Stephanie Parent


Las Hilanderas or The Fable of Arachne by Diego Velazquez

Like a spider spinning silk from its belly, you pour truth out from the heart of you, weaving threads into the things you cannot speak. All the women and their stories: Danae in her golden prison, in a chest sinking toward the bottom of the sea. Leda and her long-necked bird, pure white, oily feathers, sharp beak. Callisto, thrice betrayed, so that even her strange new skin, thick fur where once was tender flesh, can’t protect her.

Did you have a story too, Arachne? Before you tasted Athena’s name on your tongue, before you wove images like traps, like webs, did you find yourself in some dark place? Backed into a dusty corner with no escape, caught without your threads, the hunted, not the hunter?

Did you envy Athena her spear and shield; is that why you challenged her? Or did you simply need some impetus, a test that would expel the stories from inside of you, to prevent the lingering and the rot?

Did you suspect your creation might destroy you? That you would be like a spider in her glistening web, who only lives one season?

What you must not have suspected: that when you exposed the crimes of the male god, the female goddess would betray you. Athena’s words twisted your stories into shame, turned your truth against you, caused you to destroy yourself. She transformed you into something small and dark. Something that can only crawl and creep, not speak.

I can never forgive her.

Yet even the vengeful goddess couldn’t take away your talent, your ability to create. You persist, creeping and climbing. You weave threads so fine they can slip secretly through the darkest places; threads so strong, they can turn stories of pain into webs of defiance. Your threads connect us all, women with stories, women with shame and strength and the will to pour our truth out of our wounds. Our wombs.

You are creation, eight-legged and eternal. Always enduring, always reborn.


About the writer:
Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC. She lives and writes in Los Angeles.

Image: Las Hilanderas or The Fable of Arachne by Diego Velazquez (1599-1660). Oil on canvas. 86.6 x 113.7 inches. 1656. Public domain.