The shiro’s dropping its plums, which are blossoming
with white and green before collapsing in on themselves,
turning the air fragrant. And slugs and wasps gorge
on this fallen fruit, which is returning to the soil faster
than I can move it to the compost so it doesn’t slick
beneath my feet, turning a simple walk between gate
and door into a slip-and-slide. There’s this brown slug
a European invader, fringed with red, who has buried
its face into the nearly perfect sun of this plum on this rainy
Friday afternoon. This slug, whose body is so exquisitely
evolved to slide across surfaces, to cling where
there should be no grip, to carve at the world’s detritus
with its radula, which could be the thing of nightmares
if slugs weren’t so slow and so shy, shrinking back their eyestalks
when the light changes, closing off their pneumostome,
shrinking into themselves. How cruel we are to teach
children to sprinkle salt onto slugs and let them laugh
as the slugs writhe, that we let our children help set up beer
traps to drown them, when what slugs want is to eat
what’s already dead or dying, to clean up the world’s
litter, what they evolved to do. And then we wonder
where children learn their cruelty, watch in numb
horror when there’s another shooting at another school
or night club or theater and if not that, then some
other horror we’ve numbed ourselves to because
the news is a constant onslaught and the only way to breathe
is to swallow tears until we no longer realize we’re
swallowing them at all, to walk into the rot and make it home.