Black Widow Teaches


Out here in the desert,
Everybody bites, pinches, or stings.

When my hound learned rattlesnakes were bad
(I was grateful for the fence between them)
My neighbor taught me to
Pin its head and neck with something heavy
Decapitate it with a shovel (don’t touch it because it can still
Bite) and drop it in the septic access pipe.

The hound was so proud of himself he
Bayed at the garden hose for half an hour.

I use a snake stick now if they’re too close to the house, and
Release those rattlers in their range.
I was a girl with a
Toad in a jar or a jar full of flies for my
Lizards, or a wild snake in my grubby hands
Gently returning him home after a some probably
Terrifying gigantic admiration.

We’ve got scorpions, sun spiders, Gila monsters, coral snakes,
Fire ants, kissing bugs, raccoons, coyote, and
Cougar (she was using the treehouse as a
Feeding perch and it took a pitched pile of rocks before she picked a better

An honored guest
Tarantula lives in my basement and eats

So a black widow in the door jamb
Near the carport
Really didn’t bother at all. I said
Hi to her as I came and went to work.

But the mutual non-aggression policy
Failed when I saw that sack of eggs.

Bleach in a bottle was in easy reach, so I
Squirted it on the cocoon of her lives.

I figured, I figured…
It doesn’t matter what I figured because
Black Widow Mother sprinted to her eggs. She
Leapt back as she approached the stink. She knew it was
Poison; she walked a jittery circle away and back twice.

I figured, I figured…
It doesn’t matter what I figured because her
Frantic legs straddled drops of death clinging to her guy wires and she
Plucked up that sodden silk purse of destroyed hope;
Away she went, wobbling, slowing, absorbing toxic extermination
So she could save her babies.
Aghast, I watched her die, her body in death still
Clutching the corpse cocoon.

I figured, I figured…
It doesn’t matter what I figured because
I was wrong.



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