Friday, June 6, 2008


I suppose that I deserve two unwanted visits from spiders after writing about “all creatures great and small” in the last blog – some of these spindly creatures wished to be counted among the “small.” Twice now, when cleaning the front stoop, (as distinguished from a real porch, a new friend told me this morning – but I reckon a southerner knows a porch when she sees one!), I’ve discovered a cluster of sac-like objects behind French doors leading to the “stoop.” When I asked my naturalist friend to identify them, she put one of the objects in her hand and spread it apart to reveal a spiderling, otherwise known as a baby spider. I was spooked, not knowing whether she was holding a black widow, a brown recluse, or a wolf spider, all of which reside in Tennessee but none of which seem to favor the front porch in broad view of those who would broom them away – which I did to the unidentified spiderlings this evening. I assume that the spiderlings hadn’t molted yet but had left the egg sac and were slated to stay clustered awhile. An interesting aspect of the spiderling’s development is that they sometimes balloon. A young spider will point its abdomen in the air and send out a long thread we often refer to as "gossamer.” Wind will capture this light thread and carry the spiderling away on it. Some of those babies can travel a long way on that gossamer thread, but most of them don’t go far from their homestead. It’s o.k. with me if the spiderlings balloon and take a long trip because I, like Little Miss Muffet, recoil at the sight of them.

When I lived in Persia during the 70’s, we discovered an invading spider coming down the hall of our home in Melli Rah in the middle of the night. The huge, teacup-sized spider slipped through a crack in the front door, and we actually heard the door open and close as it entered the house. We got up and watched Roya, our Persian cat, pounce on the mammoth-like creature and carry it away. This incident is chronicled in my book, SOPHIE’S SOJOURN IN PERSIA, a young adult book published by PublishAmerica. You can order a copy on or directly from PublishAmerica in Baltimore, MD.

Whether I'm writing about Persian spiders or Persian poets, Persia seems to be a subject that I never finish writing about. Last year, I wrote a third book covering our experiences in this mideastern country. However, this third book is not narrative--
it contains poetry--and, as I say in the introduction, I wrote it because sister poet Naomi Nye published a quote in “The Progressive” magazine, “If we read one another…we won’t kill one another. Read American poetry…plant mint…” So this is my mint, poetry about Persia when I lived among them… when I shared the hot suns of desert mornings and felt great affinity with Sa’Di, Hafez, and Rumi, the country’s great poets. As my Persian friend, Jabar, once told me, “We are same-same.” Yes, hopefully, with same-same wishes for peace in our time.

Here is a poem from FARDA THE NIGHTINGALES WILL SING, the collection of my poems about Persia, yet unpublished:

Sa’Di retired on the hill of Pahandez,
orator, poet, pilgrim to Mecca,
twice, smashed idols in temples there;
not unlike His Holiness Christ in Jerusalem,
and not unlike St. Francis,
he fed the poor, birds, and animals,
yet, was adored by princes of Shiraz.
His mausoleum was destroyed and built again,
a compound, underneath flowing
spring water as pure as his moral counsel,
pumped to the surface for his rose garden.
Sa’Di, an Isaiah of Persia,
chided kings to show justice, equity,
spoke with the heart of a deacon.
Serve humankind, he exhorted,
protect the weak and oppressed,
penning 1300 pages of ethical verse, moral excellence,
studied by Indian and Turkish monarchs,
proclaiming his intrepid lyric:
if we are unaffected by afflictions of others,
we are not worthy to be called human.
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