“The connoisseuse of Slugs”

When I was a connoisseuse of slugs

I would part the ivy leaves, and look for the

naked jelly of those gold bodies,

translucent strangers glistening along the

stones, slowly, their gelatinous bodies

at my mercy. Made mostly of water, they would shrivel

to nothing if they were sprinkled with salt,

but I was not interested in that. What I liked

was to draw aside the ivy, breathe the

odor of the wall, and stand there in silence

until the slug forgot I was there

and sent it antennae up out of its

head, the glimmering umber horns

rising like telescopes, until finally the

sensitive knobs would pop out the ends,

delicate and intimate. Years later,

when I first saw a naked man,

I gasped with pleasure to see that quiet

mystery reenacted, the slow

elegant being coming out of hiding and

gleaming in the dark air, eager and so

trusting you could weep.

Sharon Olds, 1983, The Connoisseuse of Slugs

A nicely read version is here

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