Joro Spiders

This year we all wake up to joro spiders.
A childhood friend explains: they aren’t from here
but they fit in fine because the native spiders don’t make webs that height.
I see hundreds every day, cathedral-like homes,
at least two spiders on each.
I pretend they’re a family.

The webs catch in my hair, on my clothes,
the old man on Nantahala complains online.
He says he’s never seen so many spiders
in fifty years on this street.

My father taught me to love the joro spiders,
not in so many words.
He admonished me for buying Christmas decorations, frozen pie crusts, minced garlic.
Anything you want is better if you make it.
He built raised beds for sugar snap peas, patio furniture,
a makeshift perch in the pecan tree for me when I was just ten.

My father made my bookshelf, and a commentary on the Apology,
and if he could have spun a magnificent silky web between the walls of our home
he would have done that too.

There were no joro spiders the year he left.
It feels like nothing was alive at all that year.
There was nothing I could have made to keep him.
Not a fresh pie, or an evergreen wreath, or a spider web
made of razor wire.

When I cry, he tells me we will make a new life.
One that makes sense again.
I have nightmares every night for six months that reality is broken.
In one dream the sky is melting like hot plastic.
In another, my mother is pregnant.
I don’t feel like making anything ever again.

But this year, there are joro spiders.
All they do is make, and I follow their example.
I make pistachio cake for my lover.
I learn to pour colored wax.
I become obsessed with spinning webs.

I beg my mother not to kill the spiders.
Like they aren’t in the wrong place,
Like they aren’t smaller than my palm,

like the bloodiest thing to unmake is a home.

Louise Platter is a poet from Athens, Georgia. She is working towards a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management at the University of Georgia. Her work is inspired by confessional poets, the natural world, and her undergraduate studies in literature and philosophy.

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