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I Thought It Was a Watermelon

Smashed on the road, all red pulp
and green rind fractured.
But no, the patchwork
was of meat and turtle shell.

A day of drizzle and downpour. Cars,
bikes, and running shoes trampled
snails and earthworms, breaking
their shells as their insides oozed out
onto the wet pavement.

As I roamed the streets
with my dogs in their raincoats, I walked
around the bodies, snatching up
the last of the unscathed snails
and tossing them into the safe grass.

The next day I helped my dad purge
the vegetable garden, a jungle
overrun by slugs and weeds.

I flinched every time my dad
found a snail. He crushed it 
between his thumb and forefinger,
the snail's gooey body
pierced by its own shell. 

SUSI LOPERA is a contributor to Sagebrush XVII.

Cover Art: Letter Decorated with a Snail on a Leaf, Édouard Manet, 1880, Watercolor over gray wash (via the Getty’s Open Content Program).