1. Six years old, descending the shadow stair.
My nemesis, Wall-Giantess, opens a glossy spider-eye
to challenge mine.
It is unmoving, ringed with eight thick crouching lashes.
Before its gaze I flinch,
to furnish my nerve with tissue paper.
The steadiness of Arachne's sight unsteadies me,
fraying my breath, making my heart
like a student who doesn't know the answer.
My arm quavers. Her eye never blinks.
I shut both mine
and feel my hand strike like an adder's dagger;
then the soft crunch of victory.
2. I see the spider on the table
and, as in another year, return
Cardstock this time.
The spider climbs onto the liferaft
and I steer it through the door
into the sea-green grass outside.
Let the roving giants find their eyes again.
The world has enemies enough,
and I have courage now
to say friend.