I saw you there the night before,
a leggy black pearl against
the glossy white tub,
and made a note:

Spider. Remove before showering.

And the next morning remembered
too late,
and bore your sodden body to
the sunny deck rail where I
had meant to leave you, alive.

And lay you there gently, lifted
and lay you again,
shedding the water, and
once more, carefully.
Extended the fine filaments
of your eight legs, blew softly
on your corpse with sorry breath

that could not stir movement in the damp
mound of your perfect drowned body,
the book lungs and tracheal tubes
swamped and still.

And went back inside for a time,
wishing it otherwise, the day
barely underway and already
a hundred small wonders
dead all around, dead of
carelessness or meanness,
dead of forgetfulness.

Then wished to see you once more, even
lifeless on the rail,

where instead you now stood,
poised on segmented limbs,
your dry, risen body
shining in the sun,
your eight eyes again open
to the immense world,
your small pedipalps circling your hungry mouth,

and then walked away, restored, before I could ask:

Was there a white light?
Did you see them?
Did they greet you, ancient and familiar?
The mother who guarded your egg sac,
silken and tough, the siblings who
ballooned on gossamer into perilous air —
the ones who died before you, taken

by animals or
elements, by
indifference or cruelty,
by karma or kismet.

Did they fix you with
a thousand happy gazes, wave
their many legs in recognition, in
jubilation, welcoming you home, home
from a life where every moment a hundred
small wonders die, unseen and unmourned?

And in all their rejoicing, were they half
as glad, half as glad as I —
to feel one needless harm undone,
to watch the leggy black
pearl of your body walking
back into the world?

spider one



Restored first appeared here in July 2018.


  1. sue tallon · · Reply

    Sweet and beautiful Cate. Brings to mind an Annie Dillard moment of another living with a bathroom spider, content to set up shop beneath her toilet where she suspected the spider would receive “scant traffic” but in actuality it fared quite well. Also brings to mind the spider’s doubtless incapacity of assigning you as either murderer or savior and how we make our tender meanings in such tender ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sue. It’s no doubt true that spiders — and all other creatures — regard death as well as life with more equanimity than we humans. πŸ™‚


  2. nice poem. A few days ago I read an article about black widow spiders. It was an interesting but sad article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jessica.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Best spider-watch perspective ever! I remember spiders in the tub my 8th grade year living in an old house out in the country … I was assured they’d leave me alone if I left them alone …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Which is true, in my experience. I think we owe E.B. White a debt of gratitude for introducing Charlotte to generations of children who, through his eyes and Wilbur’s, came to see spiders with less terror and more appreciation. Thanks, Jazz.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I loved this the first time I read it, and I love it even more now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bob!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I must read this one out loud to W, who is amused at my technique of gentle capture-in-a-cup, cover with a piece of paper, fling to the outdoors out of the one window that is conveniently missing a screen, and a murmur of good wishes out in that great wide world. – JT

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We both belong to Team Spider. πŸ™‚ May our numbers multiply!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this, Cate. To me you are one of the few beacons of decency and caring in a society that seems to be devolving into a void of ‘me first, the hell with you.’ We, too, spend much time and energy in caring for the other souls around us, regardless of how small or ignored. I don’t believe for a moment that we, as a life form, are any better than any other. Many times I think it’s the other way around. … Our black cat, Pepper left us last night, and I am a teary mess. He was 15 last month and was declining due to heart failure. That caused a clot to lodge in his back legs last night, and we had to rush to the vet hospital for a shot for the pain, goodbyes, and our final ‘gift’ to him. … He was adopted (rescued) so many years ago in Virginia by our son, Steve, and then transferred to us when Steve had to move out of state for work. A bit of a character, Pepper was pretty hard to love, but over the years he and I bonded over streaks of blood and oh-to-similar personalities. πŸ™‚ I surely believe we became parts of each others’ souls. I will miss him terribly, but certainly know we were both better for that bond. -Russ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Russ — I’m so sorry to hear about Pepper. He was, as they say, of an age; nonetheless, it is hard to say goodbye. I know he had a terrific life with you; how could he not? I share wholly this observation: “I don’t believe for a moment that we, as a life form, are any better than any other. Many times I think it’s the other way around. … ” Me, too. Thank you so much for your kind words, and know that my sense of you is much the same. Wishing you solace as you adjust to Pepper’s absence, and knowing that might take awhile. I still miss Puff brother’s Spot, gone now 1.5 years; I am aware that her own health, at 14, is not what it was, and I am slowly preparing myself to make with her the passage you’ve just made with Pepper. Tough stuff. No reunion of souls that does not include them would be worth attending.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A bit of closure for me. He was quite the character:


        1. Such a sweet tribute, Russ. His appearance reminds me of my guy Spot, who also was handsome, though more genial than Pepper (apt name :)). But that makes the trust Pepper eventually vested in you all the more special. Wishing you healing, my friend.

          Liked by 1 person

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