Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy

By Thomas Lux b. 1946 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.

Thomas Lux, “Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy” from New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995. Copyright © 1997 by Thomas Lux. Used by the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: New and Selected Poems 1975-1995 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997)

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Poet Thomas Lux b. 1946

Subjects Nature, Relationships, Pets, Animals

 Thomas  Lux

Biography

Acclaimed poet and teacher Thomas Lux began publishing haunted, ironic poems that owed much to the Neo-surrealist movement in the 1970s. Critically lauded from his first book Memory’s Handgrenade (1972), Lux’s poetry has gradually evolved towards a more direct treatment of immediately available, though no less strange, human experience. Often using ironic or sardonic speakers, startlingly apt imagery, careful rhythms, and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Relationships, Pets, Animals

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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