A Bestiary

By Tim Pratt

Ts'its'tsi'nako

Imagine a woman. Imagine a spider. Imagine
the woman is a spider, but also a woman, and also
imagine that she made everything you see,
and also that she made you, so that you might see
the other things she made. Imagine that she made
your imagination.

Thinking about the thought-spider-woman
leads rapidly to tautological territory; she is
a mirror held up to a mirror held up
to the light flickering on the walls of the cave.

Of course, there are many kinds of spiders,
and of course, she made the many spiders,
the shy ones, the slow-to-anger black widows,
the recluses that kill with bites you never feel,
the orb-spinners, the garden spiders, the harmless
flycatchers that live in the corners of your room.

Imagine that she cannot control her thoughts,
that to imagine is to create, imagine that everything
she imagined came instantly to be. Think about
the experiments done by drugging spiders, and the webs
they made; the obsessive spirals of spiders
on speed, the lazy cat's-cradles of spiders
on THC. Imagine that the world is a series
of webs spun by a woman (who is a spider)
who is imagining herself through a series
of altered states. Is that an explanation
for anything?

Imagine that she imagined
beings that could imagine things themselves.
Imagine that she imagined you.

Imagine the responsibility
that implies.

 

Copyright © 2003 Tim Pratt

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Tim Pratt is a poet and fiction writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He attended Clarion in 1999, and now works as an editorial assistant for Locus, and also edits Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. His work has appeared in Asimov's, Strange Horizons, The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, and other nice places. His previous publications in Strange Horizons can be found in our Archive. For more about Tim, visit his Web site.

Author's Note: In my ongoing Bestiary series, I try to find new perspectives on mythic creatures, while remaining respectful of the sources from which they originate. "Ts'its'tsi'nako" (also called Spider Woman and Thought Woman) is a creator figure in Laguna Native American myth.