Posted: 27 September 2014
Word Count: 296
Summary: FIrst poem in years. Go easy on me. Actually, don't. I can take it. Thought I'd start with a challenge. How on earth do you write about something like a slug? Honestly? With great difficulty.
I asked you, 'what's the point of slugs'.
We could not answer. Even wasps,
you said, have a role in the balancing act of stuff,
but slugs? We scratched our heads.
Take the name: like pushing purple against yellow
on a wall, the two sounds do not fit;
the sharp start chugging to an ugly halt
with a dull 'u' sandwiched in between.
At least the French gave the slug a chance
by calling it une limace. But us? We offered
it no such grace.
And then I thought: I'll write about the slug.
After all, how often do you see them
in poems? If Donne could do it with a flea,
then surely slug words were out there to be used.
(Mind you, Donne did have sex on his side.
There was a point to his analogy.)
But the slug? To what could it serve
as a metaphor for life, for our endless struggle
to make sense of things etc? Could I get
a woman into bed by waxing on its slimy perfection,
or argue for world peace through reference to
a selection of its finer points?
And then I saw it. As in its pointless ugliness
we see how out of dark comes light;
how from the thick slip of the slug's fat tube
comes a strong and tender love of the
ivy leaf it draws its slime along;
how from its grey, surrounding colours hum;
how from the hoster leaves it turns to mulch
comes a sense of how things change,
and how a wholeness turn to loss.
So next time that I ask you
'what's the point of y or x',
remind me - even the most awkward vulgar things
in life assert themselves
in opposition to the rest.
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