The Snail’s Huffle

Little snail,
Dreaming you go.
Weather and rose
Is all you know.
Weather and rose
Is all you see,
The dewdrop’s
~Langston Hughes “Snail”

   A walk, a rout, an escargatroire
of snails—do you envy their elasticity? To each,
      an aria, the tender antennae perceiving,
         smelling and feeling, heeding
         an orchestration, inborn: Seek. Glean.
      O this thirst! Dare we risk
   spiraling outward, onward, a frangible
ode-in-motion? Dear Earth, why show us
   these rippling, quicksilver guides,
      their boneless glide,
         the fearless right-angle ascent,
         with a cellular hope’s acrobatic
      sheen—even upside-down? Surely,
   an ancient desert mother advised,
Your shell will teach you everything.

~Laurie Klein “A Walk, a Rout, An Escargatroire”

James was a very small snail…
and gave the huffle of a snail in danger.
And nobody heard him at all.
~A.A.Milne from The Four Friends from  “When We Were Very Young”

I mean, the analogy writes itself
like the onion in a grand conceit
though we really are like two slugs
in a derelict mausoleum.
Google “snails are…”
Dangerous. Slow.
Destroying my garden.
Our jobs and our women.

You, who cannot speak snail,
wouldn’t understand how the shell
was the gift and curse of diaspora,
how our songs and laments resound
in our half-remembered houses
that we carry to forget, to carry on.

~Samatar Elmi “The Snails”

…who has a controlled sense of wonder
before the universal mystery,
whether it hides in a snail’s eye

or within the light that impinges on that delicate organ?
~Loren Eiseley from The Star Thrower

If a snail’s shell gets injured, a repair can be made quickly. New shell material is secreted by the mantle, and where there was once a crack, a scar appears, looking much like a skin scar. Even a missing shell section can be replaced.

Oliver Goldsmith described this in 1774:
Sometimes these animals are crushed seemingly to pieces, and, to all appearance, utterly destroyed; yet still they set themselves to work, and, in a few days, mend all their numerous breaches . . . to the re-establishment of the ruined habitation. But all the junctures are very easily seen, for they have a fresher colour than the rest; and the whole shell, in some measure, resembles an old coat patched with new pieces.
― Elisabeth Tova Bailey, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

A gastropod brave enough
to cross a busy sidewalk
appears in no particular rush~

no hurry toward the grassy expanse
on the other side.
The lawn will still be there
whether an hour from now
or tomorrow.

Its waving little snail eyes
trying see and smell the future.

To assure it would not be crushed underfoot
I decide to intervene in history
and give it a lift
as Someone has done for me
when I was in danger.

So today,
I saw a snail at risk of being crushed
and didn’t need to hear its cry
to do the right thing.


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