We were in the garden that day when the spider caught our attention, dangling from its thread against the backdrop of a whitewashed wall topped with grey roof tiles. I spent too much time trying to get a good photo of it, so long that I felt you walk up beside me and start watching over my shoulder. In companionable silence we observed the tiny acrobat’s performance. I only realized you weren’t the one beside me when I heard you call me from the pavement where I’d left you standing.
Shelly Bryant divides her year between Shanghai and Singapore, working as a teacher, writer, researcher, and student of Chinese language and culture. She is the author of two volumes of poetry, Cyborg Chimera and Under the Ash, and a travel guide to the city of Suzhou entitled Suzhou Basics. Her third volume of poetry, Voices of the Elders, is due out in early 2012, and her travel memoir The End of the Line is slated for release in late 2011. Her current projects include writing an updated guide to the city of Shanghai for Urbanatomy and translating Sheng Keyi’s novel 《北妹》 (Northern Girls) for Penguin Books.
Shelly’s poetry has appeared in journals, magazines, and websites around the world, as well as in several art exhibitions, including dark ’til dawn, Things That Disappear, and Studio White • Exhibition 2011. You can visit her website at http://web.me.com/shellybryant.