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The widow clings upside down in her taut net.
Outside, the gray sky mottles its displeasure,
a flood of low clouds making the sun
a sullen teen, a three-day runaway.
There's cold oatmeal in a bowl and an empty
napkin holder. You notice her web stretches
to the baseboard corner. You wave your stumps,
scaring flies, an argument of small adjustment.
What is your own life now but lopped limbs,
weak growth, penitent greens limping and thin,
all begging water. Her fat black abdomen shines
in the light, radiating elegant legs, arachnid tines
bridging body to prey. Later, she'll eat
her mate. Picture your ambition of fifteen years
back. Now, in the middle of the night, your feet
are a rainy patter. Photos, your family tree,
this crippled life you maneuver. There's a sting
in the air and a pang in your hip.
Who taught you how to grow? At night, in bed
you flex the compass of your body, legs
spread, as if there was sticky matter to cling
to, a safety net you could stretch and knit.
The web is her nest; the floor is her platter.
You could crush her with a quick hammer,
a gloved thump, a definitive swing
telling limits, a tiny but total destruction.
Whose knife pruned the thick wings you wave?
Why is each blue day a brave face?
You spill yourself into the wind, squinting
your eyes, watching your gifts slip away in rivulets,
sensing the rotted roots of your grimy youth.
The widow seems to float in air. You used
to count on straps, buckles, buttons, clasps.
Now, anything with sugar. What is her plan
but a mingling of dominions? The threat of mistaken
identity, a clumsy communion. A grip
of teeth, an injection of black magic, a tragic step.
Old milk and cold fish, a dish of shredded
cheddar. What difference does it make: her legs,
her web, a small red flag? Can she take drugs
for pain? Can she run from herself? Her wait
is like yours, an instinctual patience.
What house is not also a trap?

Andrew C. Gottlieb  

Andrew C. Gottlieb lives and writes in Irvine, California, and is the Reviews Editor for the journal Terrain.org. His work has appeared in numerous journals including the American Literary Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Ecotone, DIAGRAM, ISLE, Provincetown Arts, Poets & Writers, and the Sierra Nevada Review. His chapbook of poems, Halflives, was published in 2005 by New Michigan Press, and he was most recently writer-in-residence at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon.

Copyright © 2013 University of Tampa Press
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Andrew C. Gottlieb. "Amputations." Tampa Review 45.1 (2013): 14-14. Project MUSE. Web. 7 Aug. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Gottlieb, A. C.(2013). Amputations. Tampa Review 45(1), 14. University of Tampa Press. Retrieved August 7, 2013, from Project MUSE database.
Andrew C. Gottlieb. "Amputations." Tampa Review 45, no. 1 (2013): 14-14. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed August 7, 2013).
T1 - Amputations
A1 - Andrew C. Gottlieb
JF - Tampa Review
VL - 45
IS - 1
SP - 14
EP - 14
PY - 2013
PB - University of Tampa Press
SN - 2326-4101
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/tampa_review/v045/45.gottlieb.html
N1 - 45/46
ER -


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