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The Spider and the Spray Can Man | A Poem by Donal Mahoney

He’s my buddy, this tiny spider
sitting in his web, not moving,
waiting for a fly that never comes.

The problem is, he spun his web
in a bathroom on the 30th floor
of an office building

where in 20 years I’ve never
seen a fly or other insect
never mind a spider.

The man from pest control
comes after hours
and sprays in silence.

We call him Spray Can Man,
He has “Butch” on his shirt
and creases in his pants

pressed by a wife who packs
hearty lunches, I suspect.
I’ve watched Spray Can Man

twenty years and never heard
him speak to anyone working
overtime in a little cubicle.

Years ago we’d say hello to him
just like Trash Can Man and Mop Lady.
I said “Merry Christmas” to him once

and Spray Can Man never looked up.
He kept looking down, like an anteater,
spraying one baseboard after another.

When it comes to insects,
Spray Can Man is a serial killer.
Yet the spider in the bathroom

has escaped his gaze and lives on
despite the lack of any flies to eat.
The spider doesn’t know death’s

his destination even though
I know some day soon
his life will be swept away,

perhaps by execution if
one of my fellow workers
sees him waiting for a fly

or if Spray Can Man spots him.
This spider will discover
life is just a belch in time

as I’ll find out too some day.
If I’m wrong about what’s to come,
I’ll have missed a lot of fun.

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