Coming full circle

Hi everyone,

When I was a boy with a butterfly net perpetually over my shoulder, on one occasion I witnessed a fight between a wasp and a large spider. The spider lost the contest. The wasp dragged the spider’s paralyzed body to its burrow where it would eventually be devoured by the larva when it hatched.

When I found myself enrolled in a writing class my final semester at Drury in 1959, that scene is what I wrote about. Based on it, my professor, Dr. Clark Graham, encouraged me to become a writer.

Yesterday I found myself writing a 100-word end note about tarantulas. I wrote about the spider’s mortal enemy, a wasp called “tarantula hawk,” which stings and paralyzes the tarantula, drags its body to its burrow, and plants an egg on it for a first meal when the larva hatches.

Dr. Graham didn’t live long enough after retirement for me to have a chance to thank him. By the time my first publication came out, it was too late. But thinking about spiders and wasps and college and Dr. Graham and the beginning of my career made it a good day. Way to go, Dr. Graham!

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12 comments on “Coming full circle

  1. Dr. Graham Wasp, Spider and All

    That moment, that illumination,
    a young man listening to you.
    Wasp, tarantula, the story
    of struggle, death, and resurrection
    recalled and reinvented.
    Parable, nature, and the work
    of a lifetime carried into the nest
    where the eggs of writing
    were nurtured on those remains
    one small line at a time.
    A poet has many fathers,
    not all of them remembered,
    few of the thanked in time.
    But he has given us your name.
    It lies warm in my hand,
    on my tongue, a small hosanna,
    and late, but necessary.

    –for David Harrison

    ©2017 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

    • Jane, what a lovely, lovely poem. This one goes into my file to keep and reread. Thanking you with love, David.

  2. As a teacher, you just never know who you will inspire! (Although the goal is to inspire everyone!) What a lovely memory you shared today about such a teacher.

  3. Heartwarming!
    David, your tribute to Dr. Graham and Jane’s poem bring tears to my eyes. Thank you and all who inspired you.

  4. I was lucky to be able to see my favorite English teacher at my 50th HS reunion. I don’t think she remembered me and I was definitely not a standout student or one she would put in the “going to be a writer” category. But we chatted and I gave her my second poetry book. She said she’d send back corrections! But she didn’t.

    • Lucky you! A good memory to tuck away for the right moment I’m sure. One of Sandy’s favorite graduating classes (1982) recently reunited. Sandy couldn’t attend their event but did comply with their request for a note from their counselor. I’m sure they enjoyed hearing from her.

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