Friday, January 20, 2006

In Praise of Spiders

SOME SQUIRM at the sight of spiders. Creepy, they say. Never mind if those crawlies are nowhere near the tarantula's level.

Then again, I'd stick my neck out to vouch for one of the world's most overlooked natural wonders, a perfect model for order and harmony, wrought out of such silken concentration worthy of a Zen master, with such craftmanship packed at once with lethal potency and fagility enough to give monks a run for their meditation, an ode to solitude: the spider's web.

No wonder, a character in Bergman's film Through a Glass Darkly had visions of God as a giant spider.

Caught in his own fantasy, my eldest son Golli (short for Gabriel Ollivan) thinks he is Spider-Man. God bless the power of imagination. Stuck myself in the web of my own flights of fancy, I hope he'd grow up to understand and empathize in due time his father's own thread of longing for fortitude and grace.

Here's my first published poem (which I have recently revised since it was printed in the Philippines Free Press, 4 June 1994 issue) shortly after my creative writing fellowship at the 1994 National Writers Workshop in Dumaguete:


He thinks of how a spider makes its web, how the web is torn/ by people with brooms, insects, rapacious birds; how the spider/ rebuilds and rebuilds, until the wind takes the web and breaks it and flicks it into heaven's blue and innocent immensity.. - Stephen Dobyns

the whiteness
of the wind,
the blind's incandescence
straight from the storm's eye as I
see a web, unspidered.

Fled from the
dead, I hear
the mourners in the living room

chanting my name.

My shadow looms in a corner,
reaching for cobwebs while

a whorl of gossamer
whirls in my head, darkly,
lest they'd see me, skull-shaven
or with hairs graying in
the wee hours
of awareness.

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