Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Day CXVIII: Letter III

Dear Friend,

I watched a spider slip from heaven and slowly make her way to the back of your chair. It wasn't a big spider, but I could see it moving, effortlessly, from the tops of the burnt and aching rafters to the spot where your neck peered out from the subtle collar of your shirt. I did tell you gray looks great with your skin tone, right? There's this way the light lounging above your head makes the piping look like it just might be a small ring of arm hair, stitched right into the sleeve. There's a consistency to it that is somehow alarming, but also lovely.

It was descending slowly. And, as I said, it wasn't a particularly large arachnid. But even three chairs away, I could see each of its little legs spinning away, inching closer and closer, eight tiny steps at a time.


Perhaps that's not correct. Does one step backward and down through the world? Or is it something else entirely? It would be easier if there were some sort of direction, a diagonal, rushing up three at a time, or down in a few large leaps, but there is just this: one minuscule thread dropping from nowhere and into the messiness of the world. So are those steps, a slow plummet into shaking hands and clicking heels? Rock climbers call it rappelling. Olympians: diving; criminals: hanging.

Steps, perhaps not.

But if you watched her legs, the way they tip-tip-tipped and fed into the coffee-clouded air, you might see the way her silken staircase was the most impressive of sites.

You understand that it was more a courtesy to her--it wasn't about your feelings for spiders, for insects, for creepy crawlies. So don't go thinking it was intentional, her slow waft through the room and onto your back. She was simply there; you were there too.

And don't think that wasn't lost on me, that "you were there too." Why? Why keep it up? These moments with silent glances, raised eyebrows, and impossibly small banter. They are harder than you thought they would be, right? Or maybe not? Maybe it is only me. Only my jaw that shifts, grinding like two blocks of wood, back and forth in the hands of a toddler. Only my throat that clears, quickly first, then again with more deliberacy. Only my knees that itch with sudden, intense fervor.

You itch too. And you stutter. And you fidget with all this bottled uncertainty, this lacking disclosure. I am not alone here. I am not the only one.

But insistence can be merciless, especially in the face of thoughtlessness, of terse niceties.

Have you ever watched a spider's journey from start to finish? She's on your back and working her way up, settling on your neck. How funny that eight individual legs can press over and over and over, crawling the length of your spine, and one tap of our feet, brief and covered in canvas, is enough to make you skiddish.

Just a thought

And then your hand is suddenly up, searching the bristled and waking hairs of your neck. When you pull it away, your thumb just a bit slower than the fingers, a small smear decorates the outline of a vertebrate at the edge of your shirt.

I didn't tell you about the spider, so didn't mention the stain.

There was once life on the back of your neck.

It seems so silly, so sad, how quickly that changed.



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