mailed snail

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.