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Yarn Bomber – Skye Cusack

June 2024

Read Dulgubarra-Yidinji writer Skye Cusack’s powerful piece about trying to save spiders (and everything else).

‘I pray that you pass on safely’ by Skye Cusack

You were seven years old. Missing teeth, growing hair, bursting mirth. It was just you, your mother, and your younger sibling, living as the Earth’s children in the womb of the bush. You loved it. You loved the smell of the gum leaves, the crunch of twigs beneath your feet as you explored behind your home. You even loved the thick, wiry limbs of the huntsmen that skittered inside to say hello every summer.

Your mother despised spiders. Whenever she caught a flash of black or brown or grey in the corner of her eye, she’d screech a certain screech, and you would come tearing into the room, glass and paper in hand, trying to coax the gentle beast into the safe haven.

“It’s better like this,” you’d plead, as the terrified huntsmen scrambled into the corner of the ceiling. “Get into the cup before Mum gets the bug spray.”

Death devastated you. You had a special prayer you’d utter, an invisible way to hold the hand of whatever poor creature your mother had killed from the fear of things unlike herself. You would whisper this soft prayer, and hold the corpse to your chest. You’d weep, holding the sobs inside yourself, so your mother wouldn’t hear. Then you would bury them in the bush after she had fallen asleep on the couch.

You were a protector. From the moment of your birth, you’d taken it upon yourself to guard the entire world from anything bad. And the thing you wanted most desperately to safeguard from harm was your younger sibling.

They were a tiny, delicate thing. When you’d held them in your arms for the first time, they’d still been slick from the birth, fluids drenching their newborn swaddle. They’d gurgled, wriggling around, and you’d thought, they’re like a little bird.

Even as they grew, they were still covered in blonde, almost-white, baby hairs, like the down of a duckling. But as you’d grown older, you’d learned just how big the world was. Just how many bad things there were in the world, and you struggled. 

When your sibling passed, too young, you whispered that same long ago prayer, the air expelling from your chapped lips to hit the sleek surface of their closed casket. In those moments, under the veil of indescribable grief, you realised saving a spider was far different to saving a human. Then you lost the ability to save even yourself. 

You stopped trying to save anything at all.