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Short poem

Phyllis Gotlieb (1926-)


              1The slow clock whorls of snails
              2mark time here; such calendars
              3patterned earlier dark ooze
              4into reluctant longitudes.

              5Fluted they give lipservice
              6over sand and slime,
              7dance, hornbranching
              8one-footed sine

            10while molly and platy
            11(bread-and-butter names)
            12nip-nap-nubble the grown scrolls
            13of snailshell, gossip the green.

            14Behind the screen
            15of glass I watch,
            16scrape algae, dole
            17dry crumbs of food into the gape
            18of tiger-striped predators,
            19a blaze of jaws untoothed

            20still showing in memory of the warmer
            21Amazon (a lunge and seethe
            22of living waters) the red raw gorge.

            23Beyond these elegant admirations
            24in the pale fishwarmth of antichlorined waters
            25frilly snails pace
            26poring glissandos sucklocked
            27to glass, timeless, the protozoan's
            28relentless ungrace.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Copyright 1979 The Works: Collected Poems of Phyllis Gotlieb Calliope Press
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Phyllis Gotlieb, The Works: Collected Poems (Toronto: Calliope Press, 1978): 4.
First publication date: 1964
Publication date note: Within the Zodiac. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1964.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2002
Recent editing: 1:2002/11/3

Rhyme: irregular rhyming

Other poems by Phyllis Gotlieb