The House Spider

by S. K. Kelen

The spider was there when we moved in
basking on a sunlit bit of wall
waving its front legs in greeting.
Dad said it was ‘a cheeky bastard’
then, checking his language &
waxing more lyrical, called
the huntsman ‘an eight-legged fox’.
Dad put the spider outside
catching it gently in a glass spider jar
letting it loose in the backyard.

But it kept coming back, that cheeky
eight-legged bastard. (Calling a spider
a fox cut no ice with us.) And Dad kept catching
him in the spider jar & tossing him
into the backyard, saying ‘he should be outside
hunting rats and taking his chances with the cat.
Out you go, quick smart.’
For weeks this went on, Dad with excuses like
spiders belong under rocks or what if
it scares the kids. But we weren’t scared.

‘Huntsmen should be out hunting’ Dad announced
catching the poor cheeky bastard by surprise
in the spider jar and putting him outside.
But that night, after Dad had been smoking, the
spider was back inhaling the blue air.
The cheeky bastard beckoned with his front legs
‘follow me’ and demonstrated the webbed traps
’round the house with trapped flies, moths &
Mozzies — an impressive bounty.

From that day on, they were great mates.
Dad’d stay up late reading & writing
and the spider would appear on the door-frame
to relax or flamboyantly hunt moths
buzzing the light
and sometimes sat next to Dad
on the arm of his comfortable chair.

Then one day Dad found the spider
half-dead with three legs missing
under a toy car. I can’t say who did it.
The cat sneaked in the night before.
(The cat’s never allowed in at night.)
I mean the privileges accorded that cheeky bastard
seemed a little undue: the run of the house
staying up late with Dad reading,
writing, having fun.

S. K. Kelen's picture

S. K. Kelen is a widely published Australian poet. His most recent books are Goddess of Mercy (Brandl & Schlesinger, 2002), and Earthly Delights (Pandanus Press, 2006)

Last updated July 20, 2011