‘Shore Pines and Spider Silk’, Misha Penton

Illustration © 2019 Joyce Chng

 [ Sea turtle, © 2019 Joyce Chng ] Wind rattles the windows. I wrap myself in a coat and tiptoe downstairs. In the dark kitchen, flowers drop petals on granite and a grapefruit rots, releasing its sickly-sweet citrus scent. The cat lounges near the fireplace, his green eyes flash. Floorboards creak as I open the front door and little gold beetles fly to the porch light. The brick steps are ice beneath my bare feet as I walk into the night. Against a railing, pale yellow buds fold into sleep and an egret alights on a cement fence: he stalks moths among winter blossoms. I dip beneath rusting cables—barbed wire slices my fingers—and I skirt high reeds where black marble lions wrestle in leaf litter. An almost-full moon illuminates the forest bog, my footprints leave shadows on the planks of the slippery wood path. Shrub conifers hold their wind-blown shapes and the smooth gray frameworks of gnarled shore pines twist skyward. Ice crystals encrust blades of marsh grasses, sending up tiny frozen spikes from multi-colored peat moss. I kneel on the cold boardwalk, lean my face close to the greenery, and warm the unfurling tendrils with whispers and songs and rhymes. I rise—my bare legs brush past fern fiddleheads, bog berries, and the icy-white skeletons of bishop’s lace. Glittering from twig to twig, tiny spiders weave webs from starlight—I fill my arms with their sticky silk and pass into the shallow forest along the ocean’s edge. White-capped waves crash against spikes of volcanic rock. I look for sea turtles. A silver tentacle slides out of the water—the delicate end of its long arm gently collects beach pebbles. Across the strait, mountain snow shimmers against a black sky shot through with the fire of starships.

© 2019 Misha Penton

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