“Grandmother Spider” by Jessica Cho

As a child, I played amid the forest of her legs,
tree thick and brittle haired, jointed best
for climbing. Small bodied, nimble hands,
I nestled in the space between femur and trochanter,
peach-skinned, ear pressed against her carapace,
awash in the thrumming of her abdomen
while she spun stories out of gleaming silk.

Her tales have withered since with age,
become shadow stories, dry and worn,
a-rustle with retellings, sucked dry.
I finger their old husks, cradle them in my hands
and try to puzzle out
how I might wrap myself inside their whispers
without them crumbling to dust.

Old world tales, my father calls them,
chewing through each word like spoiled fruit,
jaws turning them into messy pulp
flowing foetid down his jewelled throat.
My siblings come sip at the leavings
like hummingbirds,
on wings that make no sound.
Their bright colours weave a tapestry
that I can never hope to match.

Instead, I beg she teach my clumsy fingers how to spin,
that I might fit her ancient threads with mine.
I will re-weave each story in fresh silk,
dewy with newness,
ready to catch and trap and snare
and wind the world in a tangle all my own,
while I alone will learn to dance
across the silver strands, unstuck.

Jessica Cho is a Rhysling Award winning SFF writer of short fiction and poetry. Born in South Korea, they currently live in New England, where they balance their aversion to cold with the inability to live anywhere without snow. Previous works can be found at Flash Fiction Online, Fireside, Daily Science Fiction, Apparition, and elsewhere. They blog infrequently at semiwellversed.wordpress.com and have slightly more frequent feelings and opinions on Twitter @wordsbycho.