Snail Male

Snail Male

Jonathan Hope

Harvey O’Bond wasn’t terribly fond
Of spiders or anything bug-like.
But nothing came near his unnatural fear
Of anything snailish or slug-like.

He found it appalling to witness them crawling
And oozing their glutinous juice;
On vegetable peelings, up walls, across ceilings,
Exuding a wake so profuse.

His fear became worse, like a curious curse
Given birth by the darkest of arts,
When he learned that no snail was exclusively male,
But possessed all the female parts.

But most, he would quake at the thought they could make –
Out of mucous! – a mineral shell.
Turning bodily lard into something so hard
Was the work of a creature from hell.

He tried to get rid of his fear, with a bid
At becoming more worldly, enlightened;
But trips overseas didn’t cure his disease:
His excursions just left him more frightened.

Paris was great. Then he went on a date
With a mademoiselle known as Margot.
They got along fine till it came time to dine,
And she ordered a plate of escargot.

No sooner recovered, he quickly discovered
One solitary weekend in Brussels,
That rather than ending, his fear was extending
To cockles and oysters and mussels.

Attempting in Florence to curb his abhorrence
Proved anything other than easy:
Some stonework in Tuscany looked so Molluscan
He found himself feeling quite queasy.

On unsteady feet Harvey beat a retreat
From piazzas and streets, hot and smelly.
It was here on a wall, in a high-ceilinged hall,
He encountered his first Botticelli.

The birth of this Venus to Harvey was heinous,
He fled from the place at a gallop.
Not because she was bare, or had horrible hair,
But because she was perched on a scallop.

Jonathan Hope