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By 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)

  • Nature
  • Relationships

Poet Bio

Thomas Lux
Born in Northampton, Massachusetts, Thomas Lux’s poetry often deals with life’s tragedies, but usually employs an ironic humor. He published numerous books of poetry including Split Horizon, which won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Lux taught at Sarah Lawrence College. See More By This Poet

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