as a drop of dried blood on an anthology of pop
psychology opened to the section entitled “Self-Destruction,
Self-Discovery” & skims down the page, but can’t—
since her reincarnation—read, much less understand it,
or recall, save for fuzzy fragments caught in her mind’s web,
the humanity she’s lost. She casts glances like gossamer
about the office. Dr. Stone, calm as the Buddha
adorning his desk, strokes his laptop, as if
noting an epiphany—a breakthrough for his patient
perhaps—though he’s actually surfing for high-yield, low-risk
investments at cashgorgon.com. On the couch, head bowed,
Rev. Dimsley massages his brow, his graying temples
a symbol, if not symptom, of the stress that the secret
he refuses to confess places on his brittle frame.
Instead he prattles about the man he passed this morning
who was standing on the side of the road, holding a hand-
painted cardboard sign that meant, it seemed, to divert
southbound traffic on Rt. 61 to James 5:16. “What grave
sin,” the minister poses, “was committed against this
son of man, or else, what sin did he commit? Whichever
the case, one thing is certain—none of us finds forgiveness
in this world.” Rev. Dimsley pauses to clear his throat, ready
to cite an apropos verse when Dr. Stone, not lifting
his eyes, fixed upon the blocks dropping with increased
rapidity on his screen, having just leveled up in Ego
Crush 3, interrupts: “Have you considered
It sounds more like a suggestion than question
to the spider, who, thanks to an arachnid’s much ballyhooed sixth
sense, can practically see inside the doctor’s head, no matter
the clutter, as he searches for a paperweight to keep
his thoughts from fluttering out the window
& down the mental staircase to the Days Inn of the past.
Once again he succumbs (What choice does he have?
None!) to the ripe, round apples of a lovely,
lonely, loony divorcée in unforgettable, yet regrettably
unbillable, sessions after hours till, determined to end it,
again she draws the small revolver from her purse, & again
unable to carry through, turns it on herself instead.
The breeze from outside is thick with the scent of flowers
reminiscent of the grave. So what if she’s a spider?
She knows that a heart isn’t an artless tattoo, sagging
like a Chinese yam’s wilted leaf, nor a child’s valentine,
lacy as a fresh spun web, but where love is concerned,
it’s a fist to the gut. Dr. Stone, glimpsing her then in the corner
of his eye, slams the big book shut with a thud. Startled,
Rev. Dimsley throws up his hands, exhibiting signs of stigmata.