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See me now, a loathsome lob,
mantling the May
shrouding September in lurex knit;
each intricate design
mathematically marked
with my own round cob of a body.

My thread finer than any goddess’ silk,
its ductile strength bears the weight of creation;
my colours, luminous in sun-spectrum,
silvered by moonlight.
What do Athene’s dull-dyed wools have on me now?

I knew the game was up
and put the noose of silk around my neck;
no one gets to outshine the gods, not even
with such displays of stunning craft.

A quiver of my spinnerets
and a never-ending trail unreels-
lines for tightrope-walking; I tread out a trapeze web
maybe a funnel to catch a passing  mite
or a sheet where a fly lands with heavy foot
and like a bite on an angler’s line
I am jerked awake to wrap it fast.

My web-work decorates the world –
all gods and mortals know its brilliance;

how each filament catches the dew
drop reflecting drop reflecting drop
and the whole world caught in its mirrors;

how my cobweb gauze can heal;
how patiently my many styles of silk
unreel in the night; I have my uses.

I weave my own fate.

No one gets to outshine the gods –
but I have the last laugh
as I fling a line
into the glass air of morning.



“This poem came to life on the course ‘The Act of Transformation’ with Kim Moore, taking Ovid’s Metamorphoses as a starting point for saying something about human nature, our nature, change in our lives and the world. Here, Arachne speaks to the world that sees only her lowly transformation – she still knows her spinning is beyond any skill and beauty of the gods and tells us all about it.”

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Image credit: Susan Smith