Slime Kanji

Kate Dempsey

Snails, peaceful as ponds, wait
along the damp quayside to work.
Half awake, I sidestep slime kanji—
mollusc moments written on the path.

They turn soft eyestalks to watch.
I pass, a momentary lull of
nothing much, a pause
in a morning of pauses.

There is a piano in a wood

left lid up overnight

where snails play their dark dirges—
sweet echoes to the moon.

Like Chopin dying of TB,

who, struggling with his last chords,
left unromantic blood on ivory,
snails too leave trails on keys.