The Connoisseuse of Slugs

I couldn’t resist posting this, one of the strangest yet most beautiful love poems I’ve ever read,  by the American poet Sharon Olds. The damp climate of Cardiff makes it something of a paradise for slugs and they’re such a nuisance in my garden that I never dreamt anyone would write devotional verse about them. Anyway, I love it and I hope you enjoy it too.

When I was a connoisseuse of slugs
I would part the ivy leaves, and look for the
naked jelly of those gold bodies,
translucent strangers glistening along the
stones, slowly, their gelatinous bodies
at my mercy. Made mostly of water, they would shrivel
to nothing if they were sprinkled with salt,
but I was not interested in that. What I liked
was to draw aside the ivy, breathe the
odor of the wall, and stand there in silence
until the slug forgot I was there
and sent its antennae up out of its
head, the glimmering umber horns
rising like telescopes, until finally the
sensitive knobs would pop out the
ends, delicate and intimate. Years later,
when I first saw a naked man,
I gasped with pleasure to see that quiet
mystery reenacted, the slow
elegant being coming out of hiding and
gleaming in the dark air, eager and so
trusting you could weep.

One Response to “The Connoisseuse of Slugs”

  1. Marvellous. In return, here’s a poem by my friend ( former Wordsworth Trust poet-in-residence and current Sheffield University PhD student ), Helen Mort. Actually 3 poems, though the one I am referring to is the last on the page, “Common Names”. I hope you like it. I’m sure Helen would let you reproduce it if you had a mind to.

    http://is.gd/IgJ7YY

    Regards,
    Andrew.

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