walking the dunes on the last spit of land west of the Straits where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet and mingle giving the lie to the received truth they’re two Great Lakes rather than just one big one
specs of spiders everywhere and always making their traps more than I recall ever having seen in all the summers of coming here to absolve my sins of life in the city
webs in low twigs webs in a reed’s curve bend webs on the ground webs high in cedar bows and so I walk along the foam whisp washed shore marveling how Nature as with one mind is aligned
this morning’s effusion of minuscule predators working on the oldest loom made me stop and wonder at the careful crafting of these tacit symbolists of knowing intent
stalking the pine barrens later at dusk patrolling the beachfront amazed that it was today the midge flies were born uncountable they push out with clear wings and take to flight
this day’s span their life cycle in full complete I bear witness And see now my morning spiders’ cunning their natural prescience is all part of this seasonal spree of life and death
William Engel teaches English at Sewanee, The University of the South. He is the author of six books on literary history and early modern mnemonic culture, with a critical anthology forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, The Death Arts in Renaissance England. His non-academic, creative works have appeared in the past in The Vanderbilt Review and on the Knight-Ridder wire-service.