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Arachne’s Child

November 27, 2007

This poem was inspired by the story of Lakshmi Tatma.

Arachne’s Child

Arache’s child, a god-head
in her own village—the more arms
and legs the more wealth,
what is it they cultivate, anyway?

Eight teeth show in her splitting laughter,
Ember-curls around her gold-pierced ears.
Her strong hands clapping, grasping air,
dancing, with her polished black eyes.
She is a beauty, by any standard. The hairs
whisp between temple and white-collared
dress. She is happy, in the way children are happy.

The BBC news-anchor is sober-voiced,
camera panning from her joy-face
downward, the “parasitic twin” they call it—
four additional atrophied limbs dangle
from a truncated, headless body.
The eight-legged one, the girl-spider.
She carries a joined spinal chord,
perhaps spare lungs between all
those legs. Arachne’s child,
with a womb-wrought parasite.
The question is whether beauty will live.

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