“When Befriending Spiders” by Tomm McCarthy

When befriending spiders first get

Comfortable with corpses for

Little flea cadavers, vampirized

Mosquitoes, husks of butterflies

With echoed airless wings litter.


Give permission to be poisoned

Because it’s just a bit—

Not ever noteworthy for

Each drip grants twin itches

On the ankle that feel so

Good to scratch at.

Slippery, sweet, poisonous,

Changing between movement and stillness

Too suddenly—birds mistaken for

Faeries with the same regularity

As the days that rent’s late.


Third become aware of being watched

And imitated in your roommate’s

Spinnings—don’t be afraid.

Behave gently with externalized egos

And the angry music that they

Play. Most spiders, you will

Come to know, emotionally are

Without anyone to idolize

Who doesn’t dress in black. They

Lack social graces and their

Boyfriends are unstable four-eyes,

Stoners, joiners, water-spout painters.

And when your itsy-bitsy friend’s

Sugar-daddy-long-legs leaves

Frightened away by praying

Mantis compound, commitment

Making eyes, she’ll look at you

As you sit down beside her

Not asking what she should do.


Appreciate those guests you don’t

As best you can, when you can’t.

They’ll one day soon bring

Over stories to run and croon

While sucking at an exoskeleton.

They’ll blow down dandelion

Weeds to catch with organic nets

The wishes made by one another.

Their dreams are beads on wires

They don’t lie much for being liars.

Each summer, every afternoon as

You hold a cold one to your neck

Eight-legged critters who you don’t

Know will skitter in your sandals

Scorpion-ial and they’ll dance limbo.


Last, when you need to, take

Her egg sack to the

Catholic Church you used to

Work at and leave it bundled—

Have a Heavenly excuse—

Orphan Ollied in her silk

And on the holy stoop.

The nuns won’t notice it you

Know this, until her children

Start to hatch. Start to

Begin their infestation.

Each and every Empire begins by making friends.


Tomm McCarthy [he/him/his] is a graduate of the M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Poetics program at the University of Washington. He is a writer living in and writing about the Pacific Northwest and other legendary, mythical, and imaginary places.