“Who are you to strive for perfection?
Perfection? The girl looks up.
She regards the armored goddess.
I have no interest in abstractions.
Accustomed to the mortal tendency to plead,
Athena is annoyed by the girl’s steady gaze.
You must learn humility, she says,
looking around the amphitheater,
wishing she hadn’t called an audience for this one.
I challenge you, Athena goes on, to a duel of wool.
We’ll see who weaves the truer image.
She smiled. I will strip you of your pride.
The girl Arachne sits by her loom.
Athena weaves a Monet in mint-green and white.
Arachne weaves a Rothko, thunder colors descending.
Athena weaves Paris on a moonlit night.
Arachne weaves Mexico City.
When Athena weaves the Beatles
Arachne pauses, but only to smile.
She weaves Miles Davis.
Enraged Athena weaves Cupid and Psyche
bodies finally entwined.
Bliss, she announces. True love.
Arachne weaves horrified Midas.
Human nature, she says.
The audience hushes.
So Athena calls the game,
changes girl into spider.
Arachne goes sideways
into a world seen through hexagonal eyes.
With new thread she goes on
Doing what she’s always done:
She weaves all points
Radiating out from one.”
~ Stacy Carlson, from The Gospel of Sloth