My coworker unfurls his plastic-gloved palm
to a delicate petal of a pale-brown snail.
He says he found it in the dense forest
of boxed zucchini, cradled in a wooden crate
from California. He calls it one hell of a traveler.
The snail is a black bit of flesh in a spiraling crown-spike of a conch shell.
We pour water on the withered wilt of it,
peel wilts of lettuce off and cover it like grave
of wet sand. My coworker says we should crush it
in the composter’s maw, compact the guilt
into a neat box of rot.
He says that fate has decided it dead,
and we fold that on our tongues for the whole day
before we decide in the early afternoon
that even the smallest of life needs a chance
at making it through this winter,
and we burrow our cold bones
of hand into the icy crust of dirt and place it down
into the best bet at life we can give it.
“mailed snail” is a poem I wrote in 2019. It was published in Crêpe & Penn Issue ONe, which you can read online.