Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Diminished Thing

Yesterday, I made the journey down to South Wales and back, and on the way home there had been some sleet and snow over the higher ground but early this morning I was surprised by the thick layer of hail stones that lay all around the cottage looking like frozen frog spawn. The planned cycle ride was off.

I decided to paint the ceiling of the small studio space that adjoins the cottage. It has been bare plaster for all the years I’ve lived here. Getting right up into the high and dusty corners I disturbed numerous spiders – those long legged, colourless types that lie flat against surfaces and play dead. I tried hard to clear them out of the way unharmed but I missed one and inadvertently painted over it. It was completely covered in a coat of white emulsion and was still up and running. This perturbed me as I dislike the thought of adversely affecting other living things. Would it survive in this ghost-like form?

I have so much empathy for anything struggling to survive. One morning I noticed that a spider had dropped into my dog’s drinking bowl. I wrote this sonnet about it.

 A Diminished Thing

(“What to make of a diminished thing.”
From “The Oven Bird” by Robert Frost)

What to make of a diminished thing in need,
that looks for all the world it has deceased?
I poured the water from the bowl and freed
the drowning spider, on the ground released.
Then took some time to watch if life returned,
if from that sodden, ragged ball uncurled
a creature more determined having learned
there are four elements to handle in one world.
Like petals know to unfold at first light,
with reclaimed stature, buoyant as if air
had blown soft breath to dry out all despair,
it resurrected with renewed delight.
I marvelled then that spiders have a soul
to challenge death and make a shrunk thing whole.


  1. Fab sonnet Jill.

    You need to add a title to the post though!

    And I see you're doing nablopomo - that makes two of us! Try putting your address into the 'blogger soup' and clicking some of the other blogs there - leave a comment and tow and you'll find others will come to you.

  2. I like spiders and put them outside. It's an arbitrary thing. I stamp on earwigs but rescue slow-worms in the garden. Personal preference I guess.

  3. Not taking the mick out of your wonderful sonnet, but there is humour here too.

    Spyder, spyder, burning bright,
    In the food bowl, painted white.
    What immortal hand or eye,
    Will save your life and make you dry?

    1. Hi Mark,
      I like it! Wondering if you could find it in your heart to stop stamping on earwigs!
      best wishes

    2. Hmmmm I don't know about that. I tend not to do anything about them in the garden, but I do my best to keep them out of the gite where they scare/annoy/revolt the customers, when they hide in doorframes. So is it worse to stamp on them or to spray bug killer in door frames?