The Snail


The snail moves so slowly,

with such intricate precision,

I might imagine it to think

with its entire mass,

knowing no distinction

between brain and body,

just one whole being.


No wonder it requires a shell

in which to house

such exquisite sensitivity,

such intensity of touch.

See how its antennae

quiver and shrink at the

faintest, the slightest



No surprise it should favour

the night,

or that cool,damp dark

might be its medium,

milkily moonlit or sometimes  

numbly, mutely opaque.


Meditative mollusc,

no wonder the haiku poet

saw your slow ascent

up the long, slanting grassblade

as the apt analogy,

the sure metaphor,

for our insistent inching,

our slow climb toward clarity.  

Note   There's a celebrated Japanese haiku poem which addresses a snail ascending a long, slanting grassblade. It likens the ascent of the snail to the slow climb up Mount Fuji. This implies the slow progress toward buddhist enlightenment. Mount Fuji is sometimes used as a symbol for the person sitting in zazen, in zen meditation.