poem28 Oct 2019 08:00 am
By Unknown – Popular Bible Encyclopedia of Archimandrite Nicephorus (1892) RSL, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67647037

F. J. Bergmann


We had become convinced
of their existence, as one who,
without opening his eyes, feels
the weight of the gigantic
arachnid on his paralyzed breast. More
than human. Or possibly something less.

They sent no advance notification
of their arrival or intentions:
telephones rang with a hush
on the other end of impulse;
intransigent monitors and speakers
flared with oily white noise.

We had been unable to sleep
for countless nights, due to uninvited
nightmares. At least, they had the heads
of horses, but the bodies of huge
female spiders with sleek ebony pelts,
weaving their own milk-white silk

adhesive saddlecloths strewn
desultorily about the sleeping-chamber
(nor were our fatigue-induced waking
hallucinations any more pleasant),
gauzy as the opalescent haze
manifesting among the ghostly astilbe

at the bottom of the frozen garden.
Certainly they must have been there,
as animate vapors in the chilly mist
subliming from the rime-laden lawn.
A nacreous quality in the haze
gave the lie to their deceptive absence.

We met them again as vibrations—
compressions and rarefactions of dank air
spiraling outward from condensation
that splashed into shadow wells
far below ruins overarching
the craters where we stood.

With our eyes firmly shut, we believed
we heard them enacting rites performed
at an ancient temple now indicated
only by broken curves of marble
and melted, mangled pipework coils
from which the wine no longer gushed.

Perhaps they might have spoken
one of the legions of languages we had
lost. Possibly, if we had employed
those devices rumored to have been
developed for military malfeasance,
they could have been persuaded

to materialize in tangible form. Maybe
we could have evolved receptors
capable of detecting their emanations,
given time. They made their final,
ostensible contact with us as creatures
indistinguishable from dead leaves.

The flock rose up in a storm-driven gust,
fleetingly brushing our cheeks and lips
with their crisp tendernesses, whispering
what we took to be their goodbyes.
For hours they streamed upward,
onward, into a steadily darkening sky.

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