by Ethel Mortenson Davis

The desert tarantula
ambles across
the roadways
and wide open lands
in late summer
when the monsoons
are done,
during the mating season.

they can show
us how to put
our ladders against
the sky
so we can climb
out of this place,

ladders made
of silk and that hang
on nothing, so
we can climb
out of our hole.

I get close
to one tarantula
but he gets
in his warrior stance,
ready to strike.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

21 responses to “Ladder

  1. I can just see him in his warrior stance!

  2. Hi Ethel,
    I love this poem.
    I like the transference from actual fact to where this takes your thoughts, it is really effective. I am still learning all about the process of poetry and reading this fills me with inspiration. Thank you.


  3. I connect with “our ladders against the sky so we can climb out of this place…” though it is not always easy to move past.

  4. Scriptor Obscura

    Once when I was a young girl, maybe about seven to ten or so, I went to my local science center where they had a sort of tame tarantula that would be made to walk across the back of your hand if you had the courage to let it. I put my hand down on the counter and it walked across, it was the most wierd and creepy feeling, especially knowing that I could not move my hand at all for fear that the tarantula might bite! I had to keep my hand perfectly still and the whole time my mother was standing by watching and afterwards she asked me “Weren’t you afraid that it would bite you?” She was also more than a little hesitant to allow it to crawl across my hand! I answered her “No, it was OK!” but really I had been scared, but not very much. It was really OK. There was a trained handler standing by in case anything happened anyhow, so it was perfectly fine. This poem reminded me of that experience so I thought that I would share it with you. Thank you very much for a great poem and for sharing it with all of us. You are a great writer!

  5. Caddo Veil

    I really like the concept of a ladder made of silk, hanging on nothing, which is yet so substantial we can climb out of our hole–perhaps one of those contradictory structures in the intangible life. Great work, as always.

  6. This is beautiful once again – you have a fine feeling for nature, landscapes, and man’s relation to it. There is a feeling in your work that we are intimately related to nature, something which ‘modern’ man has often forgotten. Thank you for making me feel ‘connected’.

  7. Very beautiful, Ethel! I would echo what David Barker said. Your words weave nature and humanity into a oneness – the way it should be.

    they can show
    us how to put
    our ladders against
    the sky…”

    Exquisite image!!

  8. Not ready to give up his secrets! A stunning poem – I love the image of him ambling across the desert out there in the silence.

  9. I could read this over&over.

  10. I love this poem, Ethel! The central image is powerful… the tarantula is at once itself, whole and real and complete, and a metaphor for ourselves, trapped but with a capacity for weaving the means to escape. Finally, though, we are warriors, ready to battle to the death…. does that quality make it impossible for us to weave these ladders? Great poem! Steve

  11. This is beautiful, Ethel. Thank you. -e

  12. What a well-crafted, perfectly finished poem. Hope it’s okay that I added to my list of excellent posts:

  13. “show us how to put our ladders to the sky”–Such an unusual creature, the tarantula, to be showing us our way up into the Light! Love this hidden characteristic of this “critter.”

  14. Beautiful!…”ladders against the sky”…(sigh).

  15. Much to be learned from Nature if notice was paid to her creatures’ behavior, notice paid by patience and respect. This is another philosophical poem so very well written in blank verse: “…so we can climb
    out of this place…so we can climb out of our hole” if only this tarantula could teach us how to build such a ladder but fear keeps us divided…

  16. Pingback: Journal For Poetry Challenge #8 « zumpoems

  17. “in his warrior stance,
    ready to strike.”

    How very human. 😦

  18. Really lovely! I love poetic observations of nature that can be taken for the visuals they offer, and/or the insights they suggest. It is interesting that something like a tarantula that often evokes fear can also become a totem for trust.

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