My Tarantula, My Therapist by Tanja Bartel

My sleep-gauzed eyes do not at first see the tarantula on my nightstand. The only place, mother said, she could fit the aquarium. She knows my terror, but with the foster kids, it’s a crowded house. Spiders are all about vibration, so she senses my movements like no one else. When I come home from school and she hears my voice, she stirs. She’s taught me to overcome my fear. My long days at school are boring for both of us. She makes tunnels in the dirt while I’m gone, then collapses them and starts again; I tunnel a hallway to the girls’ washroom and back, a hundred times a day. Because I love her, I can handle my own boredom better than hers. Many nights I thrash in my bed with nightmares of escape, and she fears me.


Tanja Bartel is a teacher and writer. Recent work published in Geist, Antigonish Review, American Journal of Medical Genetics, The Puritan, and The Rusty Toque. Her first poetry collection is forthcoming with Goose Lane Editions.


*Photo by Anton Darius