The European Garden Spider Bore a name both accurate and dull. Till some do-gooding Victorian Decided to give the matter a good old mull – And, believing truth must always bow To poetic hyperbole, He grandly named them all orb-weavers And wrote to the Times after tea. Who cares if the webs are as flat as a silk cravat ?, (Of course, monogrammed). Should he have named them all plate-spinners ? Geometry be d-mned !
Never drop your tardigrade in alcohol or acid, when It isn’t curled-up tightly like a bun. Never dehydrate it, or stop its oxygen, Until all of its shrivelling is done. Never heat your tardigrade a hundred-plus degrees, Or blast it with a gamma ray, or leave it out to freeze, Or send it into space, or in a pressure fit to squeeze – Unless it is a hibernating tun. If it’s slowly, slowly moving, Best to leave it be – For now is not the time for proving Indestructibility. For a tardy’s only hardy When its legs no longer run… But if it’s small and in a ball ? Then sure, go have some fun.
Always getting in our way, By stringing threads across our paths, Or playing statues on our carpets, Getting trapped inside our baths, Or hanging down from lightshades Or on wing-mirrors, left unchecked, Or guarding rarely-opened doors We never asked them to protect – Always forcing us to shoo them, Leaving webs that we must snap – No wonder we believe the lie That some get swallowed while we nap !
Always stinging beads of dew, And cupboard-lurking in surprise, Always scuttling just in view Of the very corners of our eyes – Yet when the flies are buzzing, buzzing, Where are they to shoot them down ? And all that silk as strong as steel, Yet can’t be farmed to spin a gown. Always raising jumps and squeals And relocated in alarm – No wonder we believe the lie That spiders only bring us harm.
Coral, that was her name – Not Carol or Cora, but Coral del Mar. Dressed in yellowy-pink, she came, As if from an attic trunk or bizarre. Prickly brittle, broken free, Yet often shrinking into her shell – She loved to watch the shallow sea As if in want of a diving bell.
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.
All the world is nemotodes By dozens by each cubic inch – The soil is crammed to overload, The oceans feel the pinch – These tiny, tiny vermiforms In crevice, desert, gut and tree Together make such mighty swarms More massive than humanity. From ocean trench to distant beach To icecap, there they burst – Wherever we have strived to reach, The threadworms got there first. Whatever we may think about them, Still these parasites abound – We cannot live without them, For the roundworms make the world go round.
I saw a lepidopter’s case, A peon to the butterfly. With filigree of carapace From abdomen to compound eye. The duffer who possessed these critters Spoke at loving length of flitters.
I wondered how this gent possessed Their tiny feet and stain-glass wings, For clearly one who so obsessed Could never harm so precious things – Therefore, it must surely follow, Ev’ry bodyshell was hollow.
These weren’t spent, discarded parts – For butterflies can never shed – They never get a dozen starts, And only gain their wings to spread Upon their change to adulthood – They change for once and change for good.
Maybe then they’re not rejected, Rather they are shiny new – Here displayed to be selected By the crawling grubs who queue – So they choose their new quintessence As they quit their adolescence.
Some are brighter, some are duller, Some are nippy, some enlarged – Pick a model, pick a colour, Carbon-framed and sugar-charged. Are you a grounded caterpillar ? You should check these stats – they’re killer !
A single clap, a sudden slap, A thud against a desk, A backhand swat, a black-red blot, A mid-air Arabesque. Someone let the flies in, Let the flies invade our day, And now we’re exercising An impromptu cabaret. So jump up to that buzzing sound, And waltz your tiny partners round – Until we run these flies to ground, This dance will play and play.
The accent is just intended to show that the middle syllable is the one that should be stressed.
A snail upon the concrete, half way high, Just scaling up the slabs to the broken-bottle prism That shards into the crown that lacerates the sky – It’s breaking up the straight lines, a bauble on the brutalism.
This snail is still there, a year later, its shell becoming its coffin. I wonder if it were poisoned by the concrete ?
A miniature cricket, or maybe a ’hopper, Has found its way into my flat. I thought that the spiders would send it a-cropper, But they’re having nothing of that ! It could be a locust, but that would be holier – Easy to spot though – bright green on magnolia !
I feared it was munching my windowsill cactus, But I see no evidence there. I guess the poor thing must be fasting in practice – My ceiling-top cupboards are bare ! It doesn’t have wings, so it’s still just a young – It’s legs are un-hopped, and its song is unsung.