Shira Dentz

The heart is a long, slender tube in the abdomen

I see this woman

most are larger and stronger than males and occasionally eat males. Can live anywhere they can
find food; fields, woods, swamps, caves, deserts. One kind spends most of its life underwater. Some
live on the outside of buildings, walls, windscreens and corners of doors and windows. Another lives
near top of Mount Everest

has used her hands to dig

spinnerets, which spin the silk, work like fingers of a hand


a mouth inside herself

book lungs are in cavities
in their abdomens;
each consists of 15 or more thin, flat folds of tissue
arranged like pages of a book


like the hollow of a guitar,

commonly brown, grey, or black
but some have beautiful colors.
Many are so small their colors
can only be seen with a


wherever it goes, spins silk thread behind itself, a dragline

          some smaller than a
head of a pin,     others larger
than a hand


or drum.



This poem was woven out of three distinct impulses. One issued from an illustration of a spider I chanced upon years ago that I thought was very cool and later taped to a wall in my writing space. What caught me was the way the spider's organs were identified, how the descriptions and terms correlated with bookmaking. It was the kind of thing that could inspire a poem, but years passed and no poem surfaced. The second impulse arose from an image conjured by the experience of watching a woman poet I respect greatly read—the image was so vivid I "had to" find a place for it. Frequently my poems are propelled by a drive to find a place, like a house, for an image. I began a poem, but it was incomplete. The third impulse was a formal exercise: to write a poem that incorporated technical facts and language not typically considered "poetic." It was this last impulse that made me reach for the spider.