Desire Songs

It’s the queen he needs to appease,
stridulations scraping on his carapace.
Death might reward his gentle overtures
as he advances through her silken web.

Stridulations scraping on his carapace
make no plangent tunes for human ears
as he advances through her silken web—
his flesh a gift for children he won’t know.

Though no plangent tunes for human ears,
he sings desire to his eight-legged queen.
His flesh a gift for children he will never know,
yet he dreams of more than sacrifice.

He sings desire to his eight-legged queen,
it is she whom he needs most to appease,
yet he dreams of more than sacrifice—
death might reward his gentle overtures.

— Deborah L. Davitt

Deborah L. Davitt was raised in Reno, Nevada, but received her MA in English from Penn State, where she taught rhetoric and composition before becoming a technical writer in industries including nuclear submarines, NASA, and computer manufacturing. She had poems published in Silver Blade, Star*Line, and many other venues. Her short stories have appeared in InterGalactic Medicine Show and Compelling Science Fiction, and her Edda-Earth novels are available on Amazon. She currently lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and son, and has a history of writing affectionately about spiders, in spite of her arachnophobia. For more information, please see

Editor’s Notes: The brown recluse is also known as the “violin spider” because of the shape of its body. The Pantoum is accompanied with Linda Tanner’s photograph (CC 2.0) about these spiders in a mating ritual. She says, “Not unlike human females, brown recluse females require a male to impress her before he is allowed to mate with her. A male spider can do this in a few different ways. For example, during mating season, a male brown recluse usually starts its attempt at wooing a female by performing a dance. If this is not enough, the male might also bring its female of choice some food as a gift.  If the female accepts the food and softens up toward the male, the start of a new family has begun. If not, the broken-hearted male takes off to find a different female.”

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