I spied a snail, a whorl on its back,
Moving through the grass.
I moved closer to see what business it had
And noticed the crack: jagged, pale.
Something had smashed its shell.
Ah, poor snail.
Your wondrous Fibonnaci spiral –
By an unaware or uncaring shoe, or
Perhaps by an unfeeling lawnmower’s blade?
I saw the snail again, some time later,
Concerned with something in the wet grass,
Gracefully gliding along.
And that shell, so broken –
Had repaired itself,
A ragged white scar remaining.
And the snail continued on its way,
Going on with the business of living.
Why this subject matter? I find snails fascinating, and while looking through my (numerous) photos of them, realized that many of the creatures had suffered damage to their shells – those beautiful expressions of the Fibonnaci sequence!
The particular snail that inspired this piece was one that I had seen on several occasions, first with an intact shell, then, later, with a crushed shell. I thought for certain that the snail was a goner, that a bird or other animal would seize the opportunity to pry the mollusk out of the remnants of its house. When I didn’t see it again for several weeks, I assumed it had died…so I was very pleasantly surprised to see it appear in the same area again, with a large white spot on its shell from the repair (calcium deposits). Snails are tough little gastropods…doubtless, they have to be to survive in this world.
- Good news: some veterinarians even repair broken snail shells, like in this story from The Dodo.
- Good reads: looking for a lovely story about a snail? Check out Elizabeth Tova Bailey’s book, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating.
Snails remind me to slow down, take a breath, and marvel at Nature’s stunning display. It is – rightfully – humbling.