Arachne Spun

by: Julia Bouwsma

Because her father was a dyer,
because her mother was dead

and the wool always so thirsty,
no one told her any stories.

She learned on her
loom, in a room
all alone.

She was thin
as a distaff, in need
of something—

as if her fingers discovered
her fingers.

She wound and shaped.
She twisted the spindle. She reached
for more. She spun.

Everything she touched
to long threads.

She plied the needle.
She plied her tongue.

Now all twelve watch

this girl—
her fingers are ready,
her story decided.

She splays the wings
of the swan just so.

Hand over hand,
hand blurring hand,

waves curl the ankles
she weaves. She wants,

wants so badly to tell,
she can’t see

what she’s become.

Shuttle-struck is
nothing but belly.

Little fingers cling,
little fingers become
the only work—

what is spun in the belly

what slips out of the mouth

and leaves her
belly spun

from the belly still spinning.