Tag Archives: writing

Confessions of an Arachnophobe

I’m sorry. But they had grown much too big, much too fat, much too meaty. One, I saw, even ate its own brethren—the husk of a spider body, white and tan, blowing in the breeze from a thin strand of web.

The final straw was when I went out the back door in the early evening and felt a cobweb cross my face, then lay across my hair. I screamed. Of course. And jumped. And ran a few silly steps while frantically combing my fingers through my hair, hoping not to feel a cool, doughy wiggling thing under my palm.

You see, by this time of summer, they have grown to the size of small toads. In fact, one time I had a guest point emphatically to a corner of my porch. “That spider’s as big as a TOAD,” he declared.

So it was time. I had a broom and a mission.

As terrifying as they are, I’ve grown much less hysterical than in the heyday of my arachnophobia. Now I study the creatures closely with a cortisol-infused curiosity. I can even tolerate one or two setting up camp about the exterior of the house.

They are, after all, reminiscent of dear Charlotte, the amazing spider who could spell. My residents do not craft words, but, rather, elaborate architecture. And they catch flies. But what I remember most about Charlotte was her egg sack, the one that Templeton the rat had to gently extract from the livestock barn and carry in his mouth to Wilbur’s crate as they prepared to leave the county fair.

What I remember was that Charlotte’s egg sack hatched dozens and dozens of little tiny Charlottes, all destined to grow big, fat, and meaty.

And this is what propels me to act.

Ever so gently, one by one, I invited my houseguests onto a very long broom. Each spider was hesitant, confused, and then frantic. I aerobatically balanced the speedily crawling eight-legged creature on the broom while I trotted briskly across the lawn.

I tried to find spidery places, webby places in which to deposit them where they could find some protection and possibly construct a new web. Under a pine tree. In the brush pile. I have no idea if they can survive such a move. I have no idea if they are like the animals in The Incredible Journey and can find their way back.

All I know is that, temporarily, I no longer have to wallow in one of my biggest fears—that one of these plump arachnids will plop on my unsuspecting head.

That night, it poured … buckets, a waterfall. Tucked up in bed, a crisp white sheet to my chin, rain drumming on the metal roof, I thought of them out there. In the wet and the dark. Web-less. Lost in a strange neighborhood.

Need manuscript feedback?

One of my favorite writing gigs is to help other writers revise and strengthen their creative works. I’ve helped those who write fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry by providing in-depth page by page comments. If you have a manuscript draft and would appreciate another pair of eyes and ears for your words, email me at word.artisan.vt@gmail.com and we can work out a plan that suits your needs and budget. I have an MA in Fiction Writing and an MFA in Poetry, along with years of experience with various kinds of writing and editing. I’ve also been a teacher. My writing has been published in online blogs, online magazines, books, and newspapers. Writing is a solitary act, but it can be a wonderful process to work with another writer!

Winter’s Weekly Vacuum

And so it is that we in the North bear out these long winter months pressed inside rooms that seem to grow ever smaller. Tufts of cat and dog hair drift about the floor amongst fragments of bark and splinters as we open the wood stove to feed it one more time, again, again. Houseplants toss leaves and stems to the ground in protest of the dearth of humidity, while stray popcorn pieces from the umpteenth movie we’ve watched lie tangled in rug fringe. The dog stares vapidly into space or clings to us like a small child. The cat perfects her staircase acrobatics, until one day she begins to excavate the plants. Potting soil flung in all directions is pure sport. We reach out to touch anything for the thrill of electric static zap. Sometimes, tired of waiting for Mark Breen with his Eye on the Sky to pronounce our fate in inches of snow or ice or mercury’s descent, we walk boldly barefoot out on the porch, look up at the stars. We don’t even wear hats.


Mingus passes the time.

Mingus passes the time.




The Lady Says

Garden Comes Alive

Garden Comes Alive

I wrote this poem in response to an assignment I gave when teaching a British Literature class (I always write with my students). We were reading Beowulf, and the assignment was to write a “boast” poem using the figurative language techniques of alliteration and the kenning. A kenning is a compound word creation which originated in Icelandic/Anglo-Saxon times that accentuates or magnifies an idea. I had a great deal of fun writing this. Since we’ve had such a long, cold winter here in Vermont, it seems like the perfect time to post it.

The Lady Says

All ye heroes of olde–

I come from the far green fields and
forested trails of three-leafed trilliums.
I am a bare-footed earth-tender
coaxing greens from cold ground
in rain-soaked springtime when
all is wind-song and unfurling flowers.

Ye winter-princes, seekers of long-sleeps,
who will believe your glory-dreams?
We want no hero’s second-hand stolen silver.
Yay, though ye speak of moon-washed diamonds,
of warm fire hearths and star-tripping to the kingdom of peace,
you offer bouquets of fall’s forgotten ragweed,
empty stew pots and pillows of ice.

We’ll hear no more laments, now go!
Take your white-snow-freeze,
your drizzled-grey ghosts and
and your lead-heavy heart of dark!

I am thy dreaded vanquisher.
My breath is of sweet-apple air,
my blood flows clear-river melt,
my body Olde World tamarisk,
a salt cedar flowering pink
amongst all adversity.
I sing song-spells with the sparrows–
calling out the road-weary
who stumble their way towards
a fiddler’s flame-seared melody.

I am the one who draws down summer’s
long, luscious light.