Spiderweb Silk

Spider web fine,
the thread I followed,
to the forest.

One old friend saying,
“You’ll love it here.”
Another old friend,
rediscovered from summer’s past,
ready to share a room and tea.
And then something new completely.

A house with a tree inside didn’t seem as important anymore.
And you told tradition, while you honored it,
you were going to love as you willed.

Spider web silk wove around us both.
Though I soar to worlds strange to you,
strange to myself if I’m being honest,
spider web silk holds strong,
for a score now,
and will for many years more.

Image from one of my favorite movies, Kiki's Delivery Service

This poem was inspired by a prompt from Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Connect the Chimes Challenge. Follow the prompt for more great poetry

Fangs, Sheathed

The scratch of colored pencil on paper was the only sound in Grandmother Amaryllis’s conservatory. Xander sat beside one the massive pillars that framed the center of the indoor garden. The moonlight shone through the glass ceiling on hundreds of exotic night blooming flowers from around the world, but he only had eyes for the Arctia caja he was sketching.

Xander stopped to examine the shadow of the moth’s wing as it sat on the flower of a sprawling Queen of Night plant. He pulled out 5 different hues of purple, appraising each until he settled on one and blended it into the matching shadow in his sketchbook. Satisfied, he flipped to an earlier attempt to draw the same moth, before Mother noticed his interest and gifted him with the professional quality colored pencils. There was no doubt; he had grown better, just as she said he would.

He started contemplating shades of cream when a howl shattered the peace of the conservatory.
Emma, he thought, gritting his teeth. She and Grandmother must have returned from their outing. There went any chance of finishing this properly – unless Grandmother distracted her with something. Maybe she would. He took a deep breath, went back to his drawing when a second howl knifed through his ears, followed by an agitated Grandmother Amaryllis.

Her dark eyes found Xander’s. “I cannot believe how ungrateful your sister is!”

Xander didn’t say a word. He wondered why adults said these things. It’s not as if Emma hatched from a cocoon last night and the whole family hadn’t endured a century’s worth of her tantrums, her whining, or her leaving half eaten body parts lying about.

Grandmother Amaryllis cleared her throat, letting Xander know a response was expected. “What has she done now?” he asked.

“Well, I had such a lovely evening planned. We went to her favorite cafĂ©. I bought her a doll.”

Spoiled brat, thought Xander.

“And then when we arrived at the dentist’s office, she just about embarrassed me completely!” Grandmother said.

“The dentist?”

“Yes,” she said. “I know she can be difficult there, so I just didn’t tell her until we arrived.”

“Um, Grandmother, are you sure that was wise?”

She gave him a withering look. “What was I supposed to do? Emma tantrums even when it’s a normal appointment. I could only imagine what she would have done if she knew she was getting braces. Thank goodness I told them to have extra sedative on hand. I had to pay extra for the sharpshooters, but it was worth it. She was out for the whole thing.”

Another howl interrupted Grandmother Amaryllis.

“But she’s awake now,” Xander said.

“She’ll thank me later – I told her that – when she has a nice smile like yours she’ll be properly grateful.”

Xander started packing away his art supplies.

“Xander, darling, if you are leaving could you find Bradford and have him bring me a restorative? I am simply worn out. Tell him to bring it to my sitting room”

Xander nodded and then went to look for his sister.

She was slumped, sobbing by the statue of Vlad the Impaler in the foyer. Xander reached out and touched her shoulder. She drew away snarling.

“Braces, Xander, braces! They’re awful and they hurt and how am ever going to bite anything again? I’ll have to have blood in a cup, like some kind of toddler and I’ll never strike fear into anything like that!” She howled again.

“Emma, take it easy. Yeah, Grandmother should have told you first but –“

“But what? She just wants me to be just like you, and I’m not. I’m me. And I don’t want braces!”

“There’s nothing in the world, not braces, not even Grandmother that can stop you from being you. You’re kind of annoying like that. And you’ll be able to hunt again. There’s a bit of a trick to getting the blood out, and it will be messy at first, but I’ll show you how. We can go hunting tonight even,” Xander said.

“Will it be terribly messy?” she asked, sitting up. “With blood everywhere? And screaming?”

He rolled his eyes. “Yes," he said. "It will take a little longer so there will be a lot of mess and screaming.”

“Let’s go now!”

“No, first I have to tell Bradford to get Grandmother a snack. Then I am I going to finish up my drawing.”

Emma crossed her arms. “Weird bug pictures again?” she said.

“Moths. And they’re not weird they’re awesome. And no complaining while I finish or we won’t go anywhere.”

“I guess that’s fair. As long as you don’t to talk me about them until I fall asleep. No more naps tonight.”

“Actually, I was going to talk to them and you won’t fall asleep, you’ll learn something,” he said, offering his hand to help her stand up. “Did you know some of the moths in the Saturniidae family are considered pests, while some make silk? One genus is poison to the touch.”

Emma took Xander's hand and got up. “OK, you can tell me about the poison one, but that’s it," she said. And together they walked back to the conservatory.

Song Choice: Dance Little Sister by Terrence Trent D'Arby

Author's Note: This story can certainly be read alone, but readers might find the earlier installments in Xander and Emma's story, Like Kids in a Candy Store and Tea With Grandmother, enjoyable as well.