Loren Eiseley

Spiders

From Prairie Schooner

Spiders
are poisonous, hairy, secretive.
Spiders are old—

they watch from dark corners while wills are made.

They weave grey webs for flies, and wait…
tiles drop from the roof,
leaves turn moldy under the black, slanting rain,
people die…
and the spiders inherit everything.

Spiders are antiquarians—
fond of living among ghosts and haunted ruins,
The black jade pillars totter in the halls of Marduk;

stones fall from the archways,
at night grey sand
whines by the lampless windows.

The god lies shattered,
his green-jeweled eyes are gone;
the sockets are hacked and empty as a skull.
Upon his face a squat tarantula is creeping…

a bland yellow noon
smiles at a black tarantula
creeping on the skull of a god!

Spiders are ghouls—
they live secret lives in graveyards,

A red spear of light
pierces the stained vault-window
and makes a warm pool on a black coffin in a niche.

A lean spider droops on a thread from above,
falls into the light, and changes color…
a crimson spider
sprawling on an ebony coffin
mumbles a fly in his toothless mouth.

Spiders…
time is a spider,
the world is a fly
caught in the invisible, stranded web of space.

It sways and turns aimlessly
in the winds blowing up from the void.

Slowly it desiccates… crumbles…
the stars weave over it.

It hangs…
forgotten.

Reprinted from Prairie Schooner Vol 2 No 2 (Spring 1928) by permission of University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1928 by the Wordsmiths of Sigma Upsilon.