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July 2018, vol 14 no 2

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Teri White Carns

It’s not a pet

twisted spider webs
pale in the twilight rustlings
from beyond the doors

My daughter would like an emotional support capybara. She comes from generations of anxious Irish and English women who after all are not so different from generations of anxious African and Asian and Latina and Aboriginal women who may cease being anxious when they reach ninety, but most probably not. Their hair in dreads and plaits; their hearts in lovers’ knots and twisted veins; their stomachs and femaleness wrapped and warped into the shapes twisted by anxiety’s knitting.

Capybaras? They are the world’s largest rodents, resembling a dog, perhaps, four feet long and two feet high, with a face rather like a long-snouted squirrel. Emotional support animals? They want to socialize with other capybaras, they tend to be scaredy cats, and can’t be house-broken. The question quickly becomes – who is whose emotional support animal?

After her canaries died, my mother found refuge from her anxieties in the pale skinny ghost spiders snuggled in the corners of the hundred-year-old house, raising generation after generation of baby ghost spiders. “They’ve lived here longer than I have. Leave them be.”

My current support creatures are the half-inch beetles that blend into the shadows of my downstairs room. They hatch out in the spring, entertaining when neither comfort nor capybaras are available.

shiny black beetles
even though they could fly
scuttling across rugs