Sam Smith




Spider Patience

On a narrow beach of flat grey stones a boy stands with his back to the long bend in the river estuary. A black rod and its forked rest, cut from a hazel outgrowth, form a right-angled triangle. The boy is watching a small white and gold spider at work. The spider has anchored its web to the sides of a crack in the low grey cliff.

The cliff rock is dull and pitted, not gleaming like the banks of mud yet to be covered by the incoming tide. Coiling lines of brown scum pattern the filling river’s surface, warp what reflections there are of sky, trees and fields. Gulls call upstream. Shelducks patrol the mudbanks on the headland opposite. The spider pauses, and spins; pauses, and spins.

Inside his turned-down rubber boots the boy’s feet are cold. Behind and below him the first of the teak-black seaweed is being lifted from its anchor stones. The boy directs his breath away from the web that now funnels back into the crack.




Sam Smith is editor of The Journal (once ‘of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry’) and publisher of Original Plus books.  At the moment living in Maryport, Cumbria, he has several poetry collections and novels to his name. (see website

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