Featured Poem: Tolstoy and the Spider by Jane Hirshfield

by Megan Sexton  ·  May 29, 2012

Jane Hirshfield

Tolstoy and the Spider

Moscow is burning.

Pierre sets out to kill Napoleon

and instead rescues a child.

Thus Tolstoy came today

to lift this spider in his large hand

and carry her free.

Now a cricket approaches the spider

set down inside her new story,

one hind leg missing.

The insects touch, a decision is made,

each moves away from the other

as if two exhausted and unprovisioned armies,

as if two planets passing out of conjunction,

or two royal courts in procession,

neither noticing the other go by.

Or like my own two legs:

their narrow lifetime of coming together and parting.

A story travels in one direction only,

no matter how often

it tries to turn north, south, east, west, back.

From Five Points Vol. 13.3