Ten Ways of Looking at a Spider

by Rosi Lalor



Like a can-can girl she sticks her best leg out 

from underneath the red curtain

waits until all eyes are on her  

fans out the other seven. 



In a humid hamlet in the province of San Luis Potosi

I sat in Citlali’s kitchen, watching her make tortillas. 

From behind the corner of her stove a thick-set spider appeared,

lifted and stretched its legs one by one.

So I suppose that spider isn’t poisonous?’ I said. 

That one?’ she said, barely glancing at it, 

‘Oh yes, she is very poisonous’ 

and went back to making tortillas.



A tiny scarlet spider 

on a newly varnished bench

on its way to touch a leaf

makes a fossil of itself.



I have noticed that my spider

  • is free of compulsion
  • participates
  • observes
  • assesses 
  • acts in accordance with assessments
  • is self-motivated and charged with initiative
  • makes choices that further life goals
  • lives in accord with deepest needs, values and wishes
  • will address, process and resolve issues
  • invents creative solutions in the moment
  • has lively energy, with serenity.



John couldn’t find his torch 

so he shone a lamp under the couch

under the bookshelf

hoping to god 

I wouldn’t be on edge for the night.



Yesterday in the canteen 

I was watching people’s mouths 

and I thought of all the conversations 

in all the rooms

in all the houses 

in all the countries 

in all the languages 

in all historical periods

that have been interrupted

by someone noticing a spider.



While you were brushing your teeth 

a short-legged spider crawled 

out of the hole in your guitar 

and you never knew anything about it.



took the cobwebs off your bike

thought I saw you on the bridge



you’ve just had an argument with your boyfriend

and now two spiders are floundering in the bathtub.



I have often saved myself 

from bitter fantasies about my mother 

by remembering that she picks spiders up gently 

and puts them outside. 

Even if she has to do it with her bare hands 

even if they’re half dead

and even if it’s raining.