You have come to a time when everything is loss—
your parents dead, your friends dying or gone south.
You have come to a time when you have money
and nothing you care to do with it, though you take
cruises, spoil the grandkids, redecorate the house,
which, schooled in irony, echoes as if abandoned.
At the end of a day in which you cannot remember
whether you took the car in or got your teeth cleaned,
you sit before the TV and watch people discover
who murdered a woman trapped in a locked room.
You ready yourself for bed like the homeless
preparing to launch themselves into a cold wind.
You turn on the porch light to ward off terrors
every night brings, and there in the pale glow
discover a web spread from firethorn to birch.
You go out in your robe, your plaid pajamas,
and sit on the porch steps. The web pulses
in the breeze—huge, white, glittering with dew.
A perfect octagon shored by zigzag lacings,
a sun wheel, a mandala, an Irish cross, and there
she is, dead center, the size of your thumb
and blacker than the night that surrounds you—
legs in twos on the crosspieces, yellow lightning
down her back—motionless, riding the chill gusts
of an early autumn over the woody knives
of the blown roses. Dour Edwards never saw one
like this, so still despite its hunger, at peace
with suffering and death, nor knew what beauty
hangs above the abyss, waiting patiently for grace.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.