Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Word Garden: Slug

by Gwen Head
Head, a former Seattleite, included this poem
in her second published collection,
The Ten Thousandth Night.
How can he dare to cross me,
this oozing footless tube,
lifting his alert pronged head
in the cuckold's gesture?
Long ago his nation
cast off the security of shells
and now go proudly naked
relying for safety
on the realpolitik
of sheer slug numbers.
Clearly he glories
in each nuance of slug calligraphy,
those sly paths of silver
that chronicle the progress
of appetite, and answer
the urgent appeals of the rain.
Perhaps he incarnates
the slug king of legend
who lay for seven days and seven nights
besotted in a saucer of beer
but did not drown
and who, but this test
won his dappled queen
and with her dangled upside-down
on a glittering rope
of commingled slime
convulsed and tranquil
as a hypnotist's pendulum.
Then together they passed
through the exorcist's circles
of slug bait unharmed
and will feat forever
on trilliums and tulips
if I choose to stay my foot.
I don't, but stand a moment musing,
their sticky deaths the mucilage
holding me earthbound
by all that is at once
most vulnerable
most destructive

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