Spider War

Sensing the approach,

the cocoon absorbs the tingling,

the hoary touch of the tin amulet

stored away in the cupboard,

that is not bare.


The spider in the hand criss-crosses

the eye in the glove, an emblem

in the all believing.

Why do you look at me that way?

Why do you look like me?


I am afraid when you grip

my head in your hands,

hold fast a vision of the person

I am supposed to be.

You are too rough.

This is forced.


Push on, cello on.

Smooth over the fragmentary parts,

the fractured sop.

I have witnessed your sudden cruelty

and I don’t believe

for an instant that you meant no harm.


If shifting in your seat

helps you cope with fear,

or whatever it is that eats at your bones,

then go ahead.

Smash the china.


Is it the death rattle

that causes you to raise your voice

in rage? Violence makes us all

children again.


You are so big, towering over me,

blotting out the sun and then leaving.

Abandoned at the side of the road,

impotence is poised and still.


The crutches are placed at the altar,

and thanks are given to the blind spots,

the offerings, the engulfed moments.

The bath water is tepid

and threatens to overflow.


I can see you there, lathering up your hands

pulling at the flesh that burns with fever.

If we are killing our time together

which one of us will survive?

Carol Barbour

Carol Barbour is a visual artist, poet, and art historian. Poems are published by The Fiddlehead, Canthius, The Ekphrastic Review, The Toronto Quarterly, and Transverse Journal. She has produced four artist books, which are collected by libraries including The British Library, The National Gallery of Canada, Artexte, Goldsmiths Art Library, and The Museum of Modern Art (Franklin Furnace Archive). A new book of poems is forthcoming from Guernica Editions. Her poetry appears on NationalPoetryMonth.ca.