Sticky situation

American Life in Poetry

Often, for me, it’s a sin­gle image that real­ly makes a poem, and in this poem by Jeff Wor­ley, from his chap­book “Lucky Talk,” pub­lished by Broad­stone Books, it’s ​“a man con­duct­ing an orchestra/​of bees.” How often I’ve looked exact­ly like that, hav­ing blun­dered into a spi­der web! Wor­ley is the cur­rent poet lau­re­ate of Kentucky.

Walking Through A Spider Web

I believed only air

stretched between the dogwood

and the barberry: another

thoughtless human assumption

sidetracking the best story

this furrow spider knew to spin.

And, trying to get the sticky

filament off my face, I must look,

to the neighbors, like someone

being attacked by his own nervous

system, a man conducting an orchestra

of bees. Or maybe it’s only the dance

of human history I’m reenacting:

caught in his own careless wreckage,

a man trying to extricate himself,

afraid to open his eyes.