national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014

This Poem is Not About the Snail (Shablul)

Jocelyn Hawley  • 
Swarthmore College

but if it were I would tell you how
they right themselves by means of
opercula fastened to their feet (foot).


How when the world threatens, they first
withdraw, then brace themselves
against the heavy sand. How this is a trait


learned (inherited) from their mothers.
My own mother used to pull them from the
nettles in her garden. Hands deep in soil, she


could forget that she was crying. Funny that
I must be 900 miles (twelve days) from her
and her beds full of green growing things


to understand that resilience is a
favorable punnett square and a woman
with a garden trowel.