On rainy days we used to sneak behind
the shed at recess where the snails would rise
to breathe, flooded from their burrows underneath
the rotted boards. We paused

to wonder at their sudden strangeness
unlikely meld of sea-born shell and
earth-locked slug, antennae probing
forth, erratic trails of goo – then grinning

stomped them all. Ourselves, we
never would have known the satisfying
of shell beneath our soles – you must
be taught to hate

had not two older boys, immeasurably wise,
initiated us one cold December day.

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