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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Poem: 195 words
+ Author’s Commentary: 236 words
By Susan Tekulve

For the Spiders

—After Edward Hirsh
September, the air no longer a hair shirt 
of heat and mosquitoes, I want to praise spiders 
whose webs cinch muscadine vines to my cabin’s side, 

hang like iridescent handkerchiefs 
around junipers and stone pines 
whose silvery needles hush the buck crashing the understory. 

I love how spiders are willing to stay up all night 
like lonely old women mending and rearranging 
summer’s last belongings 

tossing webbed antimacassars across soft backs 
of hydrangeas whose final blooms 
dim into candelabra white. 

And always a spider’s solid body replaces 
the dissolving moon outside my window at dawn: That’s why 
I want to say: Our souls are silken trails of light 

following a black creek running 
through a moonlit pasture, its banks 
brimming with goldenrod and aster 

below solid cattle leaning 
in sleep, warming sides against warm sides 
holding each other upright, together. 

We have to trust our souls will hold our bodies, fallen 
in sleep, as a spider’s web holds fallen beech 
and oak leaves unready to touch the ground. 

We have to trust our bodies will awaken whole, 
together and solid as spiders 
after a night of mending the earth.  



Author’s Commentary

In the spring of 2022, I became enamored with the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s Odes to Common Things. These poems celebrate the quotidian, and urge the reader to find wonder in small, ordinary things such as a table, a bed, salt, a pair of socks. He began writing one ode a week in his late forties and produced 225 odes in his lifetime. I believe he wrote a lot of these poems to make life seem less dreary, but also to break with the conventions of traditional praise poems, which are much more formalized, their subjects and images somewhat ritualized.

While I thought Neruda’s odes were revelatory, I hadn’t really thought about writing my own praise poems. Then, one day, I was listening to the news about the reversal of Roe V. Wade, feeling despondent, almost without words. So I wrote a praise poem called “Socks,” which was inspired by Neruda’s “Ode to a Pair of Socks,” in an attempt to voice how I was feeling about that particular event. After that, I decided to write a praise poem a week. As I continued on this path, I discovered there are a whole lot of other poets out there who write praise poems about ordinary, or unusual, things that people may not normally think of praising. This poem, “For the Spiders,” came to me after I read Edward Hirsch’s praise poem “For the Sleepwalkers.

Susan Tekulve’s
Issue 23 (April 2024)

newest book is Second Shift: Essays (Del Sol Press). She is also the author of In the Garden of Stone (Hub City Press), winner of the South Carolina Novel Prize and a Gold IPPY Award. And she has two short-story collections published: Savage Pilgrims (Serving House Books) and My Mother’s War Stories (Winnow Press), the latter of which received the 2004 Winnow Press fiction prize. Her web chapbook, Wash Day, appears in the Web Del Sol International Chapbook Series.

Her nonfiction, short stories, and essays have appeared in journals such as The Comstock Review, Denver Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Italian Americana, The Louisville Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, New Letters, Puerto del Sol, and Shenandoah. Ms. Tekulve has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She teaches in the BFA and MFA writing programs at Converse University.

Author’s website: https://susantekulve.com/

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