The Beauty of the Hermaphroditic Snail

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by Betty Scott

Surrounded by political rancor, I found myself wishing Superman would swoop in and solve global chaos. Instead I read up on Gastropods and Mollusks. One night I dreamt about … oh Hail to the Chief … Super Snail!  

Snails weigh mere grams. An average adult male moves one millimeter per second. They cannot hear. Their sense of smell is their most important organ. Touch is vital too, especially in mating. Male and female snails produce sperm and eggs. After mating … drum roll please …both give birth, excellent for survival, which began for them in the Cambrian age, 540 to 585 million years ago. (Snail-world.com)

Yet despite their accomplishments and intriguing calcium carbonate shells, snails have been mocked. They’ve been turned into a symbol of laziness. In Christian culture, of sloth. We must travel back to the Greek poet Hesiod to find snails given significance. As time keepers and metaphysical mentors. When they climb stocks, it is time to harvest. (Wikipedia)

With all our human concerns in a life-feeds-on-life world, I still find solace knowing that scientists are researching Mollusks. They’ve discovered the remarkable adaptability of Gastropods. If we listen, scientists will mentor us, too, about bio-diversity and symbiotic relationships: nature’s beautiful formulas. About snails, they tell us, despite their sexual prowess, snails are endangered. Like people, moving toward peace at a snail’s pace beneath the drum-rolling urgency of global chaos and climate change.

Snails speak softly. They don’t carry big sticks. Yet imagine Super Snail with a billboard-sized sign. It reads: Be wise. Live symbiotically by design.

On my snail days, when I wake slow and sluggish, I’m consoled by millions of common citizens world-wide who rise to their feet to march and plead for clean air, land and seas. Time is humanity’s hollow-ringed habitat, the shell on our backs. Left uncorrupted, science and nature … with symbiotic dignity, bring Earth’s needs for peace to light.

Here is the poem, written several years ago, that began my exploration into forgiveness.

Stirrings and Stews

Once betrayed
we stew. We live
a slow simmer.

So this prayer
is for
you and me.

May we remember
stirrings are good
for stews
and people.

One morning
may we wake

no longer angry
at anyone
not even ourselves.

Then on our snail days
slow and sluggish
may we know

snails are garden
pests to some
and to others, escargot.

Poetry often challenges popular uses of words. It’s one way to bring us toward accepting
greater abilities beyond personal gains and losses, likes and dislikes. I’ll conclude these thoughts
with a more recent poem which first appeared on the Cave Moon Press blog. Musician  JP
Falcon Grady often joins me to sing the italicized words.

An Earth Year Blessing

No man a salt shaker
No woman a sugar bowl

To pour, use up
Put out to pantry.

No more darting of eyes
Or senator sneers

When Mama’s Boys pilgrim
To Great Mama’s pastures.

To dance … step by step
With maternal wisdoms,

Tango and waltz
Arms and heads in precision.

Each foot-path a grace
Restoring Earth’s faith,

Mama’s troupes swaying
Singing and praying:

Single Mama, Widowed Mama
Holy sustainer of lives
May we be a blessing to you,
 
May your people tend, Dear Mama,
Your people tend to you. 

 Author’s Bio:   Betty Scott’s writing adventures as a poet and essayist began when she was employed at The Wenatchee World. She taught college students for twenty years before retiring into her daily writing life. She enjoys editing her daughter’s novels as well as poetry and essays written by colleagues. She is currently writing a third collection of poems and a book of essays. Her collection Central Heating: Poems that Celebrate Love, Loss and Planet Earth, will be published by Cave Moon Press in 2018.

3 Responses to “The Beauty of the Hermaphroditic Snail”

  1. Jean Waight

    I love it, Betty, the whole thing–the personal essay wrapping around the poem. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Laura Rink

    Lovely images. Thanks for sharing your wit and wisdom.

    Reply
  3. Marian

    Beautiful. If we don’t have poetry,then what are we fighting for? (Paraphrase of Winston Churchill’s comment on a proposal to cut the government’s arts budget during WW2.)

    Reply

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