Essays: “The Black Widow and Me” by Eshani Surya

The Black Widow and Me

 Someone says that the spider will have children, will take over the yard, will engulf the place, and I am not surprised, for isn’t the world always trying to push me out? 

A spider’s intent is unknown; so, I wait and see and observe the web, which I hope has answers.

An aphorism is autofiction: What we see and understand is often what we already believe.

I do not have the stomach to even kill that black widow, her body so shiny in the sun. I cannot release whatever is inside her.

A part of me still does not believe what I am facing: the prospect of a real home.

My dearest shows me the spider, tender and calm, but I am always waiting for a cord to sever, a shadow to dwell.

Writing an aphorism is frightening because it may not ring true only a few hours later.

Writing an aphorism is frightening because it might ring false for someone else, immediately.

Writing an aphorism is frightening, because it might be true, in a never-ending way.

The safer choice is to question all choices.

But nature moves on and on, rote. The web is built day by day. I see new glimmers in the sun.

The black widow has no questions, even as I draw closer. She has instinct. She has trust.

I blame the one I love for putting me in this predicament. Any of them: the father, the mother, the old lover. 

Is there wisdom in an aphorism now defunct? Is there wisdom in recalling and recording the past at all?

My dearest whispers of what we will one day be and I branch his story into what if this and that and this. 

I blame and congratulate myself for my gulf of a heart. Besides, who am I without my terror, my anxious engine, my lifeblood? 

A black widow outside the home has a home, has a home too.

When a black widow stings, it rarely kills a human. So, too, is resiliency.

Yet I nurse the past wound of abandonment by cauterization.

Spiders rebuild without sentiment. Some creatures weep, but everything that is wild knows that there is no skill in sadness.

I watch the spider at night by shining a light and praise her as she wraps her silk around one more life-sustaining catch. 

If I cannot be gentle to myself, I can be gentle to the creature whose body is shiny and black and soft.

A black widow is timid but walks through the world with a shadow of her legend instead.

The hourglass, red and burning. The marker that deems her what she is. So much on the outside is not on the inside.

I see her.

But when you ask someone to please see you, it only means you must look for yourself.

Looking at my face in a mirror helps me recognize that I am real and here and real and here and now and now and now is what matters. 

I hope for the black widow to make it through winter; she deserves to go on.

These aphorisms are not wisdoms, they are not solace. They are dreams of a better reality.

There are days on days on days that I must accept. 

The black widow is gone, maybe for winter, maybe because nature does not pay currency in obligations. 

And anyway, who decided that truth was always something to cut a person down at the knees?

I mourn because change seems so unfathomable. As in, how to manage the inevitable losses.

Remember the soft parts of violence, they will save you. Remember the hard parts of beauty, they will moor you.

There are days on days on days that I promise to accept. 

My dearest hears my darkness and incorporates it into the predictions we have yet to worry for.  

The black widow weaves her web that silky strong extension of her burrow. As it vibrates, she tunes into the world both as it is and as it could be; and waits. 

About Eshani Surya

Eshani Surya is a writer from Connecticut. Her writing has appeared in [PANK], Catapult, Paper Darts, Joyland, and Literary Hub, among others. Eshani is an Assistant Flash Fiction Editor at Split Lip Magazine. She holds an MFA from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Find her @__eshani or at