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Prairie Schooner 79.4 (2005) 48-49

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The Cactus Spider, and: Perspective

The Cactus Spider

The shadow of the spider on the yellow-lit drape is
briefly human. A leg lounged seductively
over the trim with the coyness of a peepshow girl –
it dangles on silk, then eases itself onto the sill.

The cactus, also human – a splayed hand catching the thread
of the body. The confusion of parts like clumsy lovers
or the thin column of figures in Giambologna's Rape of the Sabines –
spines, areoles, fingers, flesh. The stem of the cactus robed
in the spider's stilled limbs; embraced, captive.

The third figure – crumpled, beaten, sagging on the couch – witness:
the spider, the cactus, the ordered shadow on the shade.


For the fathers who framed it, the thought of light
traipsing a straight line

diagrammed the vision of God. A trick of the eye
created the illusion [End Page 48]

of a body's contour: the soft curves of a fallen
figure. And who else

could be held accountable for a shape so quick
to deceive?

Beth Bachman's poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, the Antioch Review, the Southern Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at Vanderbilt University.



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