Gardener at Heart - Book Two

Spiders I Have Known


A stem of summer grass was lightly streaked

With grassy green and palest yellow-tan,

And clinging like a lemur child was one

As slender, and as finely streaked with green,

Its legs aligned in longitudinal pairs;

And as it saw me moving to get close,

It sidled like a squirrel on a trunk

And vanished right behind that giant stem.


A log lay on the earth, its bark long gone,

The weathered texture of its grain exposed,

The dark and darker stripes a perfect match

For those of a small hunter plateau’d there,

Whose one small move was all that caught my eye;

I thought, that lovely camouflage would look

Just positively horrid in a tub.


I think I’ll lightly pass over that time

When some appalling monster, way too big,

However clever it may be with web,

Repulsively malformed and witchy-legged,

And stained a pallid yellow, was released

During devotions, and had great success

In totally dismantling the sweet calm

Of that most popular and pretty girl

Who, unexpectedly, sat next to me.


A row of giant sisters starred the deck

That ran outside a rustic laundromat,

Each at the hub of a substantial web

Well-cabled to the railing and the roof.

I found them scary, but upon the whole

No hindrance to me, trundling loads of clothes.

Too bad they caught a modern Avery’s eye.

He popped the creatures out among the cars

And ripped their superstructures into rags

Despite the way his girlfriend grabbed his arm

And yelled at him to “Stop it! That’s their home!”

I wonder if she ever figured out

What shadow drove him to ignore her words?

I wonder if she chose to stay with him,

Or if he’d broken more than webs that day.


As I was sitting on a wooden bench,

I saw a prowling predator approach,

Wearing a tiger suit in black and white,

As brilliant as a keyboard packed with notes;

It searched with eyes like huge binoculars,

Then, poised beside a bottomless crevasse,

It swayed on jointed legs to judge the space,

Then jumped so fast it did not even blur.

One quick-split second, here, the next one, there.

The sun, that brash alchemist, flung a spell

That turned the white to shining silver stripes,

The black to richly burnished glistening gold;

Thus ornamented, topped with opal eyes,

And trailing its prismatic bungee silk,

This fierce aggressor fearlessly advanced

On my foolhardy pencil’s rubber end,

Reared up on its hind legs, and in a flash

It leaped up on this strange eraser thing—

Itself so small it barely spanned the end—

And then jumped off, and then attacked again,

Then, having found it neither friend nor foe,

Ignored its further blandishments and left.

I saw this hunter later going past,

A captured bug held crosswise in its mouth,

A tiger making off with that day’s meat.


A web was stretched between some tilted twigs

And caught the light like some old masterpiece;

A small brown artist held the center spot,

Each sensitive appendage spread just so,

And by some inspiration I reached down

And got a small fir needle from the path

And gently tossed it into that bright scene,

And instantly its owner came to life

And bustled angrily to get that mote

And extricate it with the greatest care,

Its claws as nimble as a set of hands.

It let the needle fall, disdainfully,

Then went back to the center of the world,

Though it did not repaint the ruined spot.


One day I got up early and went out

To see the sunrise tribe in dancing clothes.

Each grass blade held a tiny sphere of light.

My feet soaked up the light and left dark tracks,

And in the east the dance had just begun;

And there between two baby Douglas firs,

Still in the earth’s gray shadow, was a web,

A perfect web, new-made, all strung with pearls,

Small elfin pearls formed of pellucid dew,

And hanging in the center, motionless,

The owner, covered in the same cold jewels,

A picture begging for a camera lens.

The sky tribe frolicked in their glowing clothes

As their big polished dance floor slowly turned

From rose to saffron to bright daffodil.

The sun peeked over Earth’s rim with one eye,

And next to me the first light touched the web.

At once the small bespangled spider moved.

A front leg, slowly, slowly, stiff with cold,

Rose upward to the shoulder opposite

And slowly scraped its claw down that long leg,

Collecting all the droplets as it went;

All coalesced into one great big drop

That dangled there from that opposing leg,

And then the claw knocked it off into space.

One leg was free. The favor was returned,

And leg by leg the little creature worked;

Its back legs neatly scraped its body clean,

Discarding all the burden of its jewels.

It hung there gently basking in the sun,

The first arachnid ever I admired,

Though I suppose it didn’t feel the same—

My camouflage was not the thing at all—

Just positively horrid next to web.

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