The Garden Spider

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by Laura Parker Roerden

Every single evening
in her short life
the garden spider spins

a web of concentric
circles. Each anchored
to five

or so holdfasts,

simple spokes
on a wheel,
against which everything hinges.

Around and around she goes,
adding to her work,

bridging the distance from
one holdfast

to another, length by length,

adding depth
and perspective as she telescopes inward,

moving deftly to a center only
the edges can project, filling
in a spiral with detail.

Her strange and perfect offering
completes itself in zigs and zags like a zipper
on a fine golden purse to safely carry expected coin.

By morning the light and dew
create a hall of mirrors,
drawing her prey down

now lit corridors,
the mirage of open
space an enticement to beyond,

but instead a dead end.

A goldfinch flies over the garden
on his way to a field where evening
primrose offers buttercups of nectar

and darts past the spider,
her work a magnificent lit
lamp tilted just so

he can avoid ruining her elaborate
composition. By evening, the spider
dines on her work, now studded

with the jewels of beatles
and papery moths, lying still
in silky sarcophagi.

The spider unwinds
her entire web, ingesting it within

in a feat of impressive completion,

only to begin
again spinning
come dark.

The Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia or “with a bright face” in Latin) goes by several other common names including the writing spider, corn spider, or McKinley spider. They are found in all 48 contiguous states usually in gardens or at the edges of open fields. We commonly see Garden Spiders on squash or tomato plants in the farm’s vegetable garden that abuts a hayfield.

Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women.


Published by Laura Parker Roerden

Laura Parker Roerden shares a love of what nature can teach us. Writer, public speaker and supportor of youth to boldly know and save the wilds. She is the founding director of Ocean Matters and a fourth generation farmer and thinks today’s young people are reason to be hopeful about the many environmental problems facing us. She lives on a family farm in Massachusetts with her husband, three boys, and an assortment of fruit trees and farm animals.

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