in the shadows of your past
hiding in my name –
visible only in outline.
I can't see his eyes.
Irresistibly, like a dream,
he moves, somnambulant,
into the light.
Please don't let him touch me.
20 February 1984
As with ‘Arachnophobia’ (#570) this is not a poem about spiders. I have no real problem with spiders. At least not the dinky things we get in this country. But they do serve as a useful metaphor at times. I mentioned they crop up in my new book. I actually found three references:
There are so many things in this world to be afraid of: spiders (arachnophobia); clowns (coulrophobia); crowds (enochlophobia); going insane (maniaphobia); the blank page (vacansopapurosophobia); long waits (macrophobia); being alone (monophobia); being forgotten (athazagoraphobia); being ridiculed (katagelophobia); all of these and most others can be attended to by family or friend, therapist or priest (it all amounts to much the same in the end) but the one thing no one can evade and, as such, is pointless being afraid of, is the realisation that one day you will perish; you will cease being, you will fade away and those too who knew you and those who knew of you.
Getting back inside the park was easier than he’d expected. He tried the main gates first on the off chance they might not have been locked. They were. He sighed and stared at the padlock. Inconsiderately Life had neglected to equip him with heat vision so at this precise point in time all he could do was stare at it. There was a spider crawling slowly over the thing. A shaft of pearly moonlight caught it and he was so utterly transfixed by the beauty of the moment he completely forgot why he was there. It didn’t last and he felt awkward and conspicuous standing there once it ended.
My wife handed me a snapshot once, a picture of me sitting on my bench from the time before. “See?” she said. “See?” See what? I looked like I suppose a thirty-odd-year-old Magritte might have looked but I didn’t see myself in the photo. I still have it somewhere, probably where she put it since I would never have been able to think of the right place for it. I brought a hoard of boxes with me when I moved. No, I remember! I tore them up. Yes, in a fit of… I don’t know… self-righteousness. Who would have believed me still capable of such passion? Ripped to shreds. All of them. Swept under the bed with the dust and spiders. It’s likely there unless she took it with her when she left and it wasn’t one I destroyed. Unless I flushed them down the plughole or the toilet bowl. That is a distinct possibility.
In case you’re interested I’ve just finished my ninth read-through of the book. I am now working through the 250 notes I made and once I’ve done that I’ll send the amended file to my tablet and begin the tenth read-through. The goal, it took some seventeen read-throughs with the short story collection, is to be able to read the thing from beginning to end without stumbling once. There is no guarantee that any of the above will stay the way it is—the beta readers still have to have their say and then my wife will get her blue pencil out—but I’m reasonably satisfied with it. Haven’t found a typo or a spelling mistake in ages! Punctuation’s another matter; it’s not an exact science but we do our best and try to be consistent.