Jo Angela Edwins
It’s true that spiders shed their exoskeletons
to give them room to grow. Look it up
on the web, the slow process of molting
sped up so many thousand times, the dark
hairs of the tarantula giving way
to a ghost-white glow of new joints, coal-black fangs
left hollow as envelopes that bore bad news, the fresh
bodkins white as an Osmond smile, because,
yes, everything old is sloughed off and left behind,
that shadow-self, that dusty X’d-off calendar,
the legs a jumble of broken pencils,
the abdomen a hungry woman’s empty purse.
So much energy lost in birthing yourself anew,
as Christ could attest, and the body unshrouded
should not be touched. In time, the larger self
toughens, thickens, hardens. But that push, too,
takes energy. For some, the shell dismissed
becomes consumed, the cannibal released
a sort of suicide. But search another web,
the one hung between old window panes,
sheltered from storm and dissipation,
and there you see what before now you assumed
a weaver’s corpse, but no, that weaver lives
with her own thinning shade, a papery past
escaped at last, like a chained thief from a dungeon
through the trap door of a broken carapace, and now
she is stronger than before, which, as with most of us,
means that much deadlier, that much more alive.
JO ANGELA EDWINS has published poems in various venues including descant, New South, Whitefish Review, and Red Rock Review. Her chapbook Play was published in 2016. She has received prizes from Winning Writers, Poetry Super Highway, and the SC Academy of Authors and is a Pushcart Prize, Forward Prize, and Bettering American Poetry nominee. She teaches at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC, where she serves as poet laureate of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.
Header art: "Ecdysis" by Dylan Coppola.