Poem of the Week
Editor’s note: In the poem Snail, we see three layers are interspersed but arranged elegantly in simple narrative fabric. The simple and lucid words on a simple superficial surface are glimpses of a deep inapparent ocean. The object is faceless, but in the creator’s subjective ink it has a face. The contradiction between object and subject is the lynchpin of the poem Snail. It is written in a hallucinatory tone. The third layer is the poet’s eye which is able to pierce the absolute reality. Poet knew the truth in the third layer that the snail is not happy, but the second layer is filled with a chimeric illusion, which shows the whim of happiness.
by Selima Hill
I used to keep a snail in a tank,
a long glass fish tank, all along one wall.
I tried to give him everything he needed
and make his life as comfortable as possible.
The first thing I would do every morning
was see where he had got to in the night,
I’d peer into his little faceless face
and wonder where he came from and how old he was
and whether he could dream, or feel lonely,
and all the time I knew him and cared for him
he never complained; on the contrary,
he seemed quite happy in his glass home
and didn’t seem to mind being watched,
or being offered curious fruits;
courteous and grateful, he would sit
besides his little rock for hours on end
as if to say, or chant, who needs plans?
It’s true he wasn’t cheerful exactly
but to me he was, and always will be,
sinless and beautiful, like you.
Bio: Selima Hill
Born in Hampstead in 1945 into a family of painters, Hill studied at Cambridge and now lives on the Dorset coast. She is the author of twenty poetry collections, most recently People Who Like Meatballs (Bloodaxe, 2012), shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, and The Sparkling Jewel of Naturism (Bloodaxe, 2014). Her forthcoming collection, Men Who Feed Pigeons, was published by Bloodaxe in 2021.