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Watching Television
Marie Howe

I didn’t want to look at the huge white egg the mother spider dragged
along behind her, attached to her abdomen, held off the ground,

bigger than her own head-
and inside it: hundreds of baby spiders feeding off the nest,

and in what seemed like the next minute,
spinning their own webs quickly and crazily,

bumping into each other’s and breaking them, then mending
and moving over, and soon they got it right:

each in his or her own circle and running around it.
And then they slept,

each in the center of a glistening thing: a red dot in ether.

Last night the moon was as big as a house at the end of the street,
a white frame house, and rising,

and I thought of a room it was shining in, right then,
a room I might live in and can’t imagine yet.

And this morning, I thought of a place on the ocean where no one is,
no boat, no fish jumping,

just sunlight gleaming on the water, humps of water that hardly break.

I have argued bitterly with the man I love, and for two days
we haven’t spoken.

We argued about one thing, but it really was another.
I keep finding myself standing by the front windows looking out at the street

and the walk that leads to the front door of this building,
white, unbroken by footprints.

Anything I’ve ever tried to keep by force I’ve lost.

I’ve liked Marie Howe for ages – I devoured her two books The Good Thief and What the Living Do in about three nights. I like this poem in particular because of its strong images and carefully chosen language, paired with the quiet reflection at the end of the poem. And that last line has become something of a mantra for me, reminding me over and over again that what I want is not always what will happen.

Find out more about Marie Howe here.

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