Peter Nelson

Requiem For A Spider

He was a good spider,

the right bug in the wrong place

at the wrong time.

He was too large for this world

insofar as any spider of any size

is too large for some people,

a green behemoth,

a spider’s spider (with

the leg-span of a dandelion!)

who did not gradually arrive

but suddenly appeared one day

with web full spun

in the corner of my office window,

a prime location, he must have thought,

according to how light divided from dark,

an opening, a passageway to funnel

food his way in copious amounts.


He did not understand this thing

we call glass, or that he was on

the wrong side of it,

the inside of it,

where there was only me

to rattle his silks.


Day after day he waited, crouched

to spring, pounce, inject his

flesh-dissolving venom and suck

and sup the soup of something

he’d caught all by himself.

Day after day, he came up empty

for all his hideous green beauty,

for all his steadfast carnivorous poise.


Sometimes I’d blow into his net

to see him flee

for the safety of his hole at the angle

where the moldings met. 

How sweet is this? he thought. 

Eventually, he’d return

to take up his position, his vigil.



I considered catching something

to drop into his web to keep him going.

I counted the days he’d done without eating,

wondered how long he’d last,

until one day I blew and he didn’t move.

I poked him gently with a pencil.

He was gone.


Now every day when I lose my sense of purpose

and stare out the window blankly,

I see his torn and sagging web,

the exoskeleton that framed him,

and beyond the hopeless glass,

with my two eyes,

the world he multiplied with his thousand,

so long on promise,

so short on delivery.


But Spider, your small anima,

your meager buggy soul,

your tathagatagarbha

your womb of the Thus-come One

still fills this room. 

He was a good spider,

a specimen

of perfect faith.

Peter Nelson

Peter Nelson has published in Harpers, Playboy, Esquire, MS, Outside, The Iowa Review, National Wildlife, Glamour and Redbook. He was a staff writer for Mademoiselle, LIVE and Wondertime.  His book Left For Dead won the 2003 Christopher award. His novel, I Thought You Were Dead, was an Indie Next #1 Choice. He’s published 150+ articles, 25+ works of short fiction and 30 books. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, after recently separating from his wife.