Sarah Sheesley


A sun-spider is not a spider. Its eight legs are thick and sand colored, its abdomen bulbous and hairy. Its giant mouth-claw triggers scorpion feelings. Some call it a wind-scorpion, but is not a scorpion. It spins no web and waves a benign tail, using crab-like claws for shearing the fur off carrion, snipping the bones of birds and trimming the beards of sleeping men. Sun spiders' legs are not legs, but sense organs like antennae. The word for this is pedipalps—like pedicure and palpitation.
     The sun spider is not to be confused with the pseudo-scorpion, which carries two terrifying pincers instead of one poisonous tail. The pseudo-scorpion's jaw spins silk, not for web building, but for pseudo-cocoons, for shelter or a love nest, not transformation. To be clear, you could not confuse it with the sun spider. The pseudo-scorpion is miniscule and lives in libraries, terrorizing book lice and dust mites, whereas sun spiders live in the desert and semi-desert scrub. A book is not a desert.
     True spiders and authentic scorpions breathe through "book lungs," stacks of accordion air pockets and tissue, bound on one side and filled with spider blood. To see them, you must scalpel a spider and know how to recognize arachnid organs. Alternately, you can ask the Internet to show you. The lungs look like a stack of books, but not as much as the name implies.
     Human books evolved from book lungs, which evolved from the book-gills of primitive horseshoe crabs. Early humans inscribed ideas on the lungs of arachnids and crabs, and with every spider breath, the creatures inhaled stories and then they exhaled them into the atmosphere, which then evaporated into the clouds and rained down, which is how knowledge was spread throughout the land. True.
     My heart is false. That's not true. My heart is true, but my eyelashes are false. Also not true. My legs are not true legs, but sense organs that I use to feel the vibrations of the earth and the undulations of the ground, and these signals aid in locomotion. These pseudo-legs are used to fight predators and make my escape. I run faster than a spider, faster than a bee, faster than a crab. My arms are antenna sensing heat, wind, touch. I pretend they are arms to fit in.
     A pseudopod is a false foot. It can be used like a paddle to propel oneself through liquid, extended from a cell wall and retracted back into the core. This is false-footed propulsion. If I kicked you with my pseudopod, you would feel it in your blood—my cell unfurling a vicious tendril then retracting, amoeba-like to engulf your foreign particle.




[Here is a jazzy pseudoscorpion video for your entertainment.]