Dakota Garilli’s poem is reminiscent of the old dance between attraction and repulsion–fear of death and fascination with it.
The Snail Poem
Common pond snail, Roman snail, helix aspersa, lake limpet, ramshorn snail, zebra, Great Malaysian
trumpet, trapdoor snail, apple snail, Sulawesi, horned nerite, Great African land snail, Planorbidae,
bladder, tadpole, pouch. At some point you learned it—snails are much cuter than slugs. You
watched snails scooch up the bricks of your grandmother’s stoop and the flaking black railing that
bordered your father’s apartment. You saw them in Lyndhurst and Wyckoff and Sparkill and even
that one time in Greece. Though slow, you would call them “majestic.” You never once threatened to
break their shells. Unlike slugs, who left slime all over your gravel and blacktop—they got the
Morton salt. You’d sit under a streetlight and watch them explode, question their chemistry, pour
something about their green mottled skin. Like the time at your grandmother’s viewing before all
the cousins showed up. Your mother was teaching you something like lacquer. Something Irish.
Another man might call it strength, but don’t let him put words in your mouth. She said: “If you have
to cry, do it downstairs in the bathroom.” Remember this story for your therapist. Close with the
Morton girl in her slicker skipping the stratosphere, that purple umbrella inverted.
Editor’s Note: Dakota Garilli’s published poetry with us before. Read his “Because He Reads the Bible.”
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