Joe Cottonwood



Wolf Spider

Hey, wolf spider
on the bathtub bottom
scaling porcelain, slipping —
uncatchable. I want to shower.
You dodge my washcloth, you dart away.
You idiot. I’m trying to help.
Must I spray you to the drain?

Bare-ass, crouching I pause,
resting my fingers on the tub bottom
when suddenly you are tickling the hairs
on the back of my hand as if
greeting, asking.
So I lift.
Rapidly I escort you to the kitchen door,
set my palm on the wooden porch
where after rain there is the scent of fungus
but you remain,
you stand on my knuckles
straddling two prominent veins.
Your sensitive feet take my pulse.

I lean close,
eyeball to eyeballs unblinking.
We, both, are hairy.
We frighten women.
We mean no harm.

Suddenly shifting your perch
you read my palm:
heart line, fate, life line.
Almost a handshake.
Then you jump.
Brother, farewell!



Joe Cottonwood has worked as a carpenter, plumber, and electrician for most of his life. He is the author of nine published novels, a book of poetry, and a memoir. He lives in La Honda, California, where he built a house and raised a family. His most recent book is 99 Jobs: Blood, Sweat, and Houses  Website:

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