A suburban vivarium

Aug 16, 2004 0:36am

I realised the other evening that I can almost pinpoint when I feel at home in a new place: the day I see my first spider.

When I was younger, I used to dream that at night the walls of my bedroom rippled into buttress roots dreadlocked in green. The carpet degraded into cool leafy litter, into which plunged the four saplings that formed my bed. My desk: an ancient altar of stone, with a misshapen moss-encrusted throne for a chair. Dim light comes from the glow worms secreted in the walls, and, through the dense hatching of the roof, shafts of quicksilver. The window is a sheet of water. I sit up and put my bare feet on the forest floor; something slithers. I exhale, and the air fogs.

in my brain a seed
jungle roots clenching a fist
potbound in the skull

During the day I half-believed that, if I only concentrated deeply enough, the power of my imagination would summon this nocturnal vision from the earth, cracking the slab and flooding the room in shadowy hush. Enamoured with this subversive thought, I’d consider opening the door to my room, letting it flow into the rest of the house, out into the swimming pool and the street, devouring the town.

After spiders come the geckoes.


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