When, Like Garden Spiders from Space Orbit, We Return

Two garden spiders named Arabella and Anita were used to study how orbiting

earth would impact spiders' ability to spin webs. Arabella spun a fairly symmetric

web even though the thread thickness varied — something that earthbound

spiders don't experience.

— Elizabeth Dohrer, "Laika the Dog & the First Animals in Space"

We will weave a web the size of the rose bush

all over the rose bush the way people throw their arms around

relatives in airports, as if they are trying to attach

a thousand thin silk threads—of love plus gravity plus where-have-you-

been-so-long?—to their feet and shuffly suitcases and knit-capped heads; we will

spin knit caps with tassels for everyone out of space dust and our own

exhausted bodies; we will not talk about what it felt like to spin up there

when we were also spinning. We will not say eight eyes full of darkness, or that long

unanchored pulling, like trying to unwrap moonlight from its tightwrapped

spool of moon, so it's no wonder it wavered from us like arcane geometry—thinning

and thickening like we were seeing it from dimensions different than we'd ever thought of.

We will say cucumber leaf! pumpkin with its unwinding, tethered coils; we will launch

from them, dirtily, earthily. We will not ask what the point was. We will

return like a radio transmission out of the desert, when the song

reattaches its filaments of breathy voice to music, and the rasping of the wind

is over; the rasping of space blanking past us. We will crawl

back to what we love, as if it is earth-mist ordinary, as if we are not dizzy

still, lank-legged. We will offer what we have always offered:

out of everything, most days, fairly symmetric. We will look

down down into the leafy wet of spring, or whatever this new season is.

Alexandra Teague is the author of three poetry collections — Or What We'll Call Desire (Persea 2019), The Wise and Foolish Builders, and Mortal Geography — and the novel The Principles Behind Flotation, and co-editor of Bullets into Bells: Poets & Citizens Respond to Gun Violence. She is a professor at the University of Idaho.

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