Snails in Paris

by Cindy Hill

BEFORE I KNEW IT I'd walked all the way to Paris
Head down
Watching the water wash the gutter clean.
Found work as the assistant to
            the assistant to some chef at some palais
Pulling the hats off of the snails
one by one.
Bonnets and straw boaters and berets;
Won't do to saute them with their hats on.
One day I couldn't stand it any
            longer,
Tugging off their hats and piling them up.
I took a knife to the whole bowlful
            Shells and hats and all
dumped the mess out in the garden
and walked again
to Stuttgart.
Then Berlin.
Before the wall fell, of course,
for what's the point of Berlin without a wall,
wouldn't know which side to be on
            East, west, onward, backward
walking in circles as if
            there'd never even been a snail in Paris.

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