Concerning two Lifebuoys

[ by Charles Cameron — nothing strategic or serious, just dropping a little beauty your way ]


Here’s a DoubleQuote that doesn’t fit my usual graphic format, but that gives me enough delight that I thought I’d post it anyway.

It all begins with a friend pointing me to this video — it’s quite beautiful, it’s a commercial, and it’s promoting a Lifebuoy campaign, in their words, “to help reduce the deaths of two million children before their fifth birthday” by means of their “handwashing behaviour change programmes”:

Okay: so I like the video very much, but I know nothing about Lifebuoy, their politics, their labor practices, the things that might make me hesitate to be quite as delighted by the video as I might be if there wasn’t a massive “international” tied in with the short and moving narrative. So I googled “Lifebuoy”…


And found this poem, which has nothing to do with soap but a great deal to do with telling a short and beautiful story — albeit with the simplicity of words, of poetry:

Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy

–Thomas Lux


For some semitropical reason

when the rains fall

relentlessly they fall

into swimming pools, these otherwise

bright and scary

arachnids. They can swim

a little, but not for long

and they can’t climb the ladder out.

They usually drown—but

if you want their favor,

if you believe there is justice,

a reward for not loving

the death of ugly

and even dangerous (the eel, hog snake,

rats) creatures, if

you believe these things, then

you would leave a lifebuoy

or two in your swimming pool at night.

And in the morning

you would haul ashore

the huddled, hairy survivors

and escort them

back to the bush, and know,

be assured that at least these saved,

as individuals, would not turn up

again someday

in your hat, drawer,

or the tangled underworld

of your socks, and that even—

when your belief in justice

merges with your belief in dreams—

they may tell the others

in a sign language

four times as subtle

and complicated as man’s

that you are good,

that you love them,

that you would save them again.


The video and the poem are very different — yet closely connected, coming to me as they did, hot on one another’s heels the other day. I celebrate them here as an informal DoubleQuote, with gratitude to Google.

May I recommend, to myself when my ship comes in and to others: Thomas Lux, New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995.

2 comments on this post.
  1. Grurray:

    That video is really cool Charles.
    I hope Lifebuoy sells a lot of soap but works on clean water next.

    The poem reminds me of some photos I saw recently:

  2. Charles Cameron:

    Amazing frog picture!