the spider, its bite by Amanda Mitchell Dutton

It was as if we weren’t our kind any longer, that we might not nurse the words that tasted less and less like dust, gasoline, might forget the things that kept our feet calloused, left us fashioning mountains with our spines pushed upward, our necks curved as valleys, exposed, in contrast.

Waking in thirst is not knowing a father, knowing instead a woman’s desperation, knowing nicotine and too-tight denim, knowing mattress, knowing floor, knowing the withered pages of a bedside bible by pressing our tongues to the ink, shaping our mouths in practice, learning to speak as prophets, as kings. And even then, as we lay in bed thumbing the pages by candlelight, we were children who would not wake, would not know God.

As it stands now, drawer-tucked, yellowing, spine gnawed to powder by years past, this bible is no mystery; I know what it means. You were prom queen in ’99, wait tables, lost a daughter. Sitting alone on your smoke break, you know what it means.

I remember a crisped field this time last August, our spent bones spread in dusty drowse beneath the heat. You spoke about a deadly gossamer spun between these ridges; our kind does not pull against it, will not reach beyond it.

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