Caught by the River

(In between) Mud & Stars: a poem by Michael Pederson

20th August 2017

Through an open window
of a wooden lodge, I watched
a dragonfly prang into a spider’s
radials – in a blink the deft
pilot found peril, met harm. Its red
body shimmered, hinted blue, twirled,
wings paddled and slapped against
the silken glue. Och, stay still
, I thought
be tactical about this, you’re a big
bugger of a beastie compared to those
infinitesimal ropes slung around
you; and right glam – nobody wants
this to end in your demise.

It was too late, the perfect
little wings had stopped twitching,
became stained-glass miniatures
stilled in light. And so entered
the spider, eight foreboding legs
like dark mascaraed eyelashes,
curled, crooked question marks,
slicing then biting to a kill.

Was this a battle of good
and evil, colours shook out
from heaven versus portentous black;
brink of breakfast or a bloody
murder scene? Like thoughts that
come only with drink, vilely, I knew
it: even more so than the spider, I
was possessor of Herculean strength
– the only party that could have switched
the endings. It’s like with love,transfixed
you can watch something beautiful
die, hoping umpteen valid
reasons for it will soon surface.


Oyster: poems by Michael Pederson, illustrated by Scott Hutchison, is published on 1 September by Birlinn.
Pre-order a copy from the Caught by the River shop.