Photograph of poet Thomas Lux (email) from Georgia Tech, where since 2002, he has held the Bourne chair and directed the Poetry at Tech program.
December 7, Mary Karr picked this Thomas Lux poem from his "New and Selected Poems" (Houghton Mifflin, 1997) for her column, "Poet's Choice 2008. Here's a 1999 interview with Lux from the Courtland Review.
Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy
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
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.
"Tarantulas on a Lifebuoy" is from .
Mary Karr has published four books of poems, most recently "Sinners Welcome."