The snail lives in a shelter, hard and whorled
and watertight, which, when life gets too wild,
and round the universe it’s hurled and whirled,
gets cracked and broken. Then the snail, unwilled,
instinctively, works with a slow, cold weld
to mend the damage to its one small world.
Just past the spot
where the sea has torn out
a morsel of Cornwall,
so the path’s over the drop,
there’s a still grey shape,
a pinnacle, an outcrop,
until its feathers ruffle,
until the shriek shriek shriek.
If, in a rush of blood,
I aped its headlong stoop
and plummeted, in seconds
I’d be nothing but meat.
Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are ‘This Patter of Traces’ (Oversteps Books, 2014) and ‘Mapping’ (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).