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"Why I Get Quiet When the Cops Come" by Shelley Whitaker

Updated: Nov 19, 2019

The slights feel small as spiders when spoken. Her fists against the door turn soft as strands of silk & no matter the glass she burst my window open with, for I’ve swept

each sharpness away. Even the fingers she slips inside me while I sleep dissolve into dream when caught— unwrap from my neck & leave no limb-shaped pinknesses.

Next time you glimpse a thumb-sized waltz of legs, grab a broom & scream. Watch how quickly an arachnid skitters out of vision, shrinks herself into the numb nest of memory.

Shelley Whitaker

originally published by The Academy of American Poets at


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