Picking Snails


After days of rain
I am out picking snails
off my choice flowers,
not one or two,
but a thousand
bodies like tongues
flanging out in ripples
from brown patterned spirals
or mucus-membrane-sealed-within.

I pull them away
from crack and stem,
with stretched fingers.
alert to shells half formed,
or damaged brittle,
or pulling back,
least I squeeze through
frail protection
breaking in
with dreadful crackle
so they fiz
in a broken writhe.

As the buckets fill
they slither over one another,
their calliper stalked eyes
seemingly pulling them forwards,
to slide upwards,
to the lip of the bucket,
and over,
intent on escape.

It’s as if they are moving without moving
-or is it the bucket receding?
But I can hear the slish and crickle
of their progress,
see the glistening slime trails behind them
and their defecation…


and the rank smell of them
washes over me
in a fetid sea marsh
of fear.

several bucket loads I take
to the waste land
banging them empty into squirming heaps


careful to avoid direct contact

Is this genocide?
Have a thousand minds been overruled
in a carnage
for the sake of my flowers?


Back inside
my heart beats fast
and my body shudders
as I wash my hands.


8 thoughts on “Picking Snails

  1. Did you know that they have a homing instinct, Wyon? They need to be taken over 30 metres away, or they will find their way back to your flowers! Ann x

  2. Oh dear: They are less than 15 metres away – although there is a road between. I did pick off another 15 or so today though – perhaps they were returnees… Another alarming thing about that fact is that it suggests that they are actually quite intelligent. Thanks for your tlelephone message by the way, Ann, and kind comments about Toggle.

  3. Hi Wyon; I enjoyed the erudite language which you gave to this strange subject. It is a good piece with a lovely natural flow – not snail-like at all. They are beautiful and it seems a strange phenomena rather like a plague of Egypt. You must be thankful that the infestation wasn’t slugs!
    Love, Jane

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