Spider’s limbs; today I wear teardrops, the spilling of sorrow, as I stand, Skeleton Woman, fighting the wind; I am bone-strong and bare, pumpkin-silks pulled from my limbs; my leaves, lost and littered, are gone; only the last folds of taffeta, worn and clinging, strain at my veins; though they twirl, pirouette, this is no ballet— it is a tango, dance of death: my silks unravel before me.

I weep as I dance, for even my late glamour is going; Harvest ballgown shredded, yes, but also late-life diamonds washed away; I have been both May-Queen and Snow-Queen, and I now am washed bare, crystal ice melted, tattered gossamer caught in my arms; my limbs are laid naked, worn by water; I am stripped; I am aged.

My bark is my skin, and the rain beats it clean—see my veins, muddy tan, see my sides flake and peel; I am icicle-tracked, rain-stained with constellations of road maps long lost; I am hennaed by weather: pared down, peeled back, an uneven mosaic— deep-river russet, copper-sorrel, weaving browns.

See my spindles, reaching out, each a memory, each a moment—I have climbed in so many directions, reached into so many worlds; some of my lives are stillborn, infant stalks, broken at joints and caught in my hands; the Wind will soon claim these, my lost children, and carry them away from my arms; I cry in the night, but never can mourn; new directions must grow.

I search through the rain-veil, I reach up, I reach out; the Sun, rising higher, calls my branches; my sinews fan open and upward, and I wait for her, Life-Mother, through the freeze and the rain; I wait for her warmth to soothe windburnt bones, peeling flesh; I wait for her to grant me youth once more; crowned in green, I will dance in her light, birth new limbs, my new daughters, and stand Spring-Goddess once more.

But for now, and today, I must sway in my age; back and forth, back and forth, alone in the grey; I rock, Old Woman, to the lullaby of lives past, and I wait, Sleepy Dreamer, for the Spring to return.


Skeleton sleepwalker, I live in the dark; in this time, in night-time, I am covered in black; stripped and skinned, sallow-stalked, I now hate to be seen.

But the glass eyes still find me, open squares yellow and gold; they see me, they show me, stark bare and alone; my skin turns dark murky umber, my veins lost in the dark, but I am still Spider-Creeper; they know I am old.

In deepest nights, I scratch at those windows, fight the light; I show the sleepers my splinters, history written in bone; they cry out, share my nightmare, fear the rasp of the glass, but I push the panes anyway, etch out my pain; I wring my hands, dig my nails, long to touch a new story, but the picture’s unbreakable, I must stay outside; I crack and break, Wind drives me away.


Phantom frame: morning dusts me in white; late last evening, lightning flashed the runway of youth, the shutter catch fire, the thunder applause; Wind and Snow, hand in hand, were out to torment me, howling echoes of things long ago passed; sheathed now in white, I awake from my dreams; I am frail, brittle-boned, stripped bare to the core.

My taffeta leaves lie in tatters, faded with wear; when they are brown and dry, they will slip through my spindles; they will fly out and away to some water-filled street, trampled and ground back into the earth; I can only sway, cold and lean, and stand, bare and strong, as I watch my glamour, my children, my memories, move on.