POETRY March 4, 2022

Queer Awakening with Wolf Spider

Days after she named the backlit boughs,
we snap some off the pines for swords;

the boys fold themselves inside the forest
to build a mud-caulked, knobby-kneed fort.

Her trailer still in view, I avoid looking
at her bedroom window. She called them demons;

I heard them once. She said to listen for their tongue:
whispers thin as the silk-spun smoke we singed

from bent cigarettes spent by her third-shift mother.
The moon snuck under the bed we shared

as two demons on her ceiling sprouted long hair
like ours. “That one,” she said, pointing,
                                                      “is the man.”

How strange the wolf would die 
in the yawn of a rock too big for her and me to lift

alone. Underbellied, the spider lies beside her molt;
I am not yet afraid of the world and what it can do.

“Girl spiders eat boy spiders,” I say (her hands
go still on the rock) unsure whether I can ask for a second look.

Jami Padgett is a queer poet from Ellijay, Georgia, and a current MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas. She was a poetry finalist in the Agnes Scott College Writers’ Festival in 2016 and received the J. Chester and Freda S. Johnson Graduate Fellowship in 2020. She currently serves as poetry editor for the Arkansas International.