Poem: The Stoic Snail

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 –

Fractured,

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.

Still alive!

And that shell, so broken –

Bifurcated –

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.

Snails remind me to slow down, take a breath, and marvel at Nature’s stunning display. It is – rightfully – humbling.