Moult Litter

Spider & Moulted Exoskeletons photographed by Thierry Berrod

Moult Litter

In all of the places that dusters don’t get to,
On covings and pelmets, in cupboards and sheds –
With many a squeam and a shudder, I bet you,
We know what we’ll find on the dust-heavy threads –
The graveyards of spiders, with hook-leggèd carcasses,
Either their owners are dead, or they’re gone
And abandoned their earlier mobile fortresses,
Ditched by the web-side while they scamper on.

Tumbleweeds that tremble in our gasps,
As though they’re still alive –
With finger-legs that only clasp
The empty air that makes them jive,
But couldn’t cling to life, or cling to guts.
Or maybe shells of burry nuts,
Which lie in wait to hitch a ride,
With tiny eggs they plant inside
To spread their brood to distant nooks and huts.
They’re single-used, these chitin gowns –
Abandoned and outgrown,
Have they no life as hand-me downs,
Or overcoats of bone ?

I wonder, could a hermit-fly purloin one,
Use it as a neat disguise ?
It has, of course, too many legs, too many eyes.
But carpenter bees could join in,
To adapt the suit, adjust the fit,
And silkworms help to sew up any split.
Maybe for a little coin
An enterprising beetle may
Collect the lot, and set them on display.
Just the thing to look soigné
The best-dressed bugs and social sets
Are spider-clad, from palps to spinnerets.

Why does nothing eat these ?
No nutrients, presumably.
They cannot flee, they cannot rust,
They simply scatter through the endless desert drifts of dust.
And so the dunes accrete these,
Until they’re swallowed down,
To sink and drown, or fossilise –
The only clue that they were empty are the missing eyes.

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