Kiss of Death by Bernie Jordan
A gentle stroke across my bare leg alerts me. Gentle, yes, and soft like the waft of an evening breeze
- but instinct draws me back from elastic strength, and clinging brokenness.
Was it brokenness or entanglement that made me brush at my leg? Fear of entrapment, invisible
deceit or the uncanny extension of the spider’s reach.
Smoothing down goose bumps I head more carefully for the open track.
A darting movement catches my eye. I crouch to watch a fly blundering about in a web. Its flailing
wings are made useless by powerful silky thread.
A bulbous bodied spider scuttles in for the kill, then stops short. Tiger-striped legs finger fine strands.
Like a fiddler she is playing with vibration. Timing is important, she awaits her moment.
The fly lies still, tension builds. The spider lurches forward, the fly springs up in a frantic buzzing blur,
shaking the web’s foundations. Struggle suddenly ceases and the fly rests in a hammock of broken web.
The spider seizes her chance and attacks from behind.
Her poison gland imagined; her fangs too small to see, I sense an easing of stress. All her actions
show the greatest respect. A feeble wave of the fly’s leg seems to signal surrender. There is one long
paralysing bite, a kiss of death. Crouch closer and watch the spider cut away the web and wrap the
body, turning and twisting it into a package that has the softness of candyfloss.
When the newly woven shroud is complete the spider hangs from a strand of web, climbs into the
leafy shade and reels in her meal. She manoeuvres it deftly towards her mouth, sucking juices
through swathes of web that look like Egyptian bandages.
Death for one is life for another and a lasting memory for me.