"Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy" - Thomas Lux


"Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy"
(Thomas Lux)


For some semitropical reason   

when the rains fall   
relentlessly they fall

into swimming pools, these otherwise   

bright and scary
arachnids. They can swim
a little, but not for long

and they can’t climb the ladder out.

They usually drown—but   
if you want their favor,
if you believe there is justice,   
a reward for not loving

the death of ugly

and even dangerous (the eel, hog snake,   
rats) creatures, if

you believe these things, then   

you would leave a lifebuoy
or two in your swimming pool at night.

And in the morning   

you would haul ashore
the huddled, hairy survivors

and escort them

back to the bush, and know,
be assured that at least these saved,   
as individuals, would not turn up

again someday

in your hat, drawer,
or the tangled underworld

of your socks, and that even—

when your belief in justice
merges with your belief in dreams—
they may tell the others

in a sign language   

four times as subtle
and complicated as man’s

that you are good,   

that you love them,
that you would save them again.

"Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy" by Thomas Lux (1946-2017) appears in New and Selected Poems 1975-1995. Lux lived in Atlanta, a town that knows a thing or two about hot-rainy-weather spiders and other crawly things. He was the Bourne Professor of Poetry and director of the McEver Visiting Writers program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and directed the Poetry @ Tech program. He downplayed the idea of surrealism apparent in his work, but commented that "Sometimes there are lucky accidents though I think they’re more likely to happen if one has sweat a little blood." His collections INCLUDE Child Made of Sand (2012) and God Particles (2008).

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