When You Kill A Spider In Your Daughter’s Room at Eleven PM

Forever loved, remembered daily.

This morning I woke up to the date which marks the second anniversary of our daughter Katherine’s death. How is it that such a date can be spoken of as an anniversary? This I cannot answer, but only acknowledge. And as I sat wondering what I wanted to do in the many ways I want to acknowledge both her living and dying, I decided to take out the poem that still is fresh in my heart and mind. Though I wrote a new poem this morning both for and to my girl, it is yet too raw, too tender to share today…

Instead, I am sharing a poem I wrote in 2015, which comes to my mind now and again. Though I have written many poems, and prose about and for my daughter, I think this is one of my favorites, if not my very favorite. I made some revisions, as I often do. Not so much the content but more the structure and also one line in particular, as I felt it needed some clarity. It’s actually the line about the nine-year-old girl killed in her own home (.Jamyla Bolden of Ferguson, MO)- I felt it was too vague and in time might lose its meaning. This event so struck me at the time of writing- it exemplified and magnified the challenge we all face in acknowledging the heartbreaking, hard realities and injustices of life.

When You Kill A Spider In Your Daughter’s Room at Eleven PM

by Dawn Paoletta

“Mom- there’s a bug!” startles you from your slumber.
So, you stumble out the bed, onto your feet, and make your way
to the kitchen first, to get your weapon because toilet paper will not do-
the guilt seeps through the thin plies of tissue.

Still squinting, you walk resolutely down the hall to her room.
She points to the corner wall as you fumble for more light and notice
the “bug ” is a spider and you see its size, color, shape, and that its legs
are long but it’s not a Daddy-Longlegs, and it’s just sitting there

on the wall…in her room, and you, too sleepy to do the catch and release
reserved for daytime spiders, apologize for your murderous action as you
push the thicker-picker-upper paper towel against the wall where the intruder crouches

and you feel everything is wrong, somehow in the killing of an innocently sitting spider
at eleven o clock at night, because everyone knows, “Thou Shalt Not Kill”,
and the words rise within, like an arachnid ghost hovering, reminding you of words
that spiders don’t know and certainly don’t live by.

Besides, spiders are the good guys, you think to yourself,
then it occurs to you that good guys die, too…
and injustice finds its way into the hearts of everyone.

So, you squeeze that paper towel tight making sure all life is crushed from within-
and every innocent rises in your consciousness, visions of concentration camps,
mothers’ wombs, and the memory from the news of one nine-year-old girl
shot dead while doing homework on her mamma’s bed after school.

And you think how nothing is fair and life is a game of chess
for some, but some are like the spider on the wall
in your daughter’s room at eleven PM.

This poem (unrevised) is included in the 3rd Annual Anthology: Neighborhood Guild Thursday Writers

For you, Katherine. Forever loved, remembered daily.

A Letter to My Daughter One Year Later

Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at dawn.paoletta@gmail.com

6 thoughts on “When You Kill A Spider In Your Daughter’s Room at Eleven PM

  1. I’ve often shared in your thoughts…how can we call these events anniversaries? Sending hugs your way on this terribly hard day. Thank you for sharing your beautiful poem ❤


  2. This poem really moves me. It speaks at once of the sanctity of life and the chilling arbitrariness of death, as well as the length a mother will go to protect her child. How fitting for the “second anniversary” of your dear daughter’s death. Incidentally, Dawn, I agree that’s almost a contradiction of terms. Thanks and hugs for sharing.

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