“World’s Smallest Snail Record Broken, Again” by Ryan Dzelzkalns

Ryan Dzelzkalns


Folks, we’ve done it.
We’ve found a slightly more delicate shell
with corridors like the cavern of a fingerprint’s whorl.
Cathedral on the head of a pin. These little wonders
found only on calcified spires in Borneo,
the tiniest family to put their homes on their backs.

—and this morning, we’ve exceeded our own
capricious nature, news of the Brexit and I’m not sure
what it means. Suddenly walls again
where they had been removed,
a shell pulled a little tighter. Shell so small
the only water sound contained therein:
tears. How the powerful define home for others.

But is anything ever discovered in nature?
Certainly life exists without our endless
classifications or interruptions.
Like, OK Linnaeus, we get it.
We’ve all been muddled
by these sycophantic constructions of race.
Science as tool of oppression like
literally every other thing we’ve ever picked up.
Taxes, taxonomy. Policy, police.

In the Pacific on an island like a tooth,
a community of “tree lobsters”
reappeared from extinction.
They’ve spent the last 80 years
coming together at night
under one of the crag’s scrub brushes
to brush against each other, to huddle and tell
great-great-grandma stories, of times before,
first kingdom, years of plenty.
These memories thickening their very carapace—
the trauma of bird wing, of feather-clutched egg.
Can you cross a family over oblivion-dark seas?

Let’s admit the astounding luck
that any of us are here at all. Without which,
we wouldn’t be able to look back,
would still be moving. This, necessarily
the simplest way to say diaspora.

Poets Respond
June 26, 2016

[download audio]


Ryan Dzelzkalns: “Britain’s vote to exit the European Union (or ‘Brexit’) is a terrifying example of how xenophobia can fuel political discourse and action. It strikes me particularly as November approaches and we have our own demagogue to contend with. And little less timely, here are the articles about the snails and stick bugs.”

Rattle Logo