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Whatcom Watch Online
Slugs Make Me Shiver

February 2015


Slugs Make Me Shiver

by bJudy Teresa

Judy Teresa is a retired special education teacher who has taught all age levels. She’s currently writing a memoir called “The Cathedral of Learning” which is a critique of her educational experiences in and out of universities. Judy received a walk award in Whatcom County’s 2014 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest for her poem “The Morning After.”

A distorted brown slug lay on our patio this morning.

Streaks of dried silver slime

form an irregular trail across the concrete.

I watch for any signs of movement as I make breakfast.

Yesterday I would have wished him dead

Slugs are, after all, loathsome creatures.

Their slime is so sticky and obnoxious it can only

be removed from human skin with baby wipes.

But last evening after reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s

“The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History”

I was persuaded that all creatures are needed.

So, I think: What can I do to help the slug survive?

Did he run out of the slime that makes him mobile?

How can I grease the skids of the sluggish slug

so he can move to the ground nearby?

I try pouring tepid water over him and notice

he has a certain beauty. He isn’t all one shade.

He has a rectangle on his back with dots of beige

like something a scrapbooker would cut and paste on.

Desperately seeking the redeeming virtues of slugs

I ask my husband, “Slugs aerate the soil, don’t they?”

Never disagreeable, he replies, “I guess.”

but doesn’t sound convinced.

When I ask a friend the same question, he says,

“I think you’re mixing slugs and earthworms.

You’d better consult Google.” So I ask Google

“What are the ecological benefits of slugs?”

Google channels Lexa Lee who tells me

more about slugs than I ever wanted to know,

such as what the European black slug Arion ater

eats and where it lays its eggs. Ugh!

Lexa also offers the following:

slugs provide protein for birds and mammals,

consume the scatter of dead leaves and animals,

and spread the seeds found in vegetation and dung.

Unlike earthworms who are aerators,

slugs are decomposers. Slugs enrich

the soil by releasing nutrients.

Maybe I just needed to take the time

to get to know slugs better

before I could love them.

By noon the slug hasn’t moved.

He’s a slug-a-bed who’s likely dead.

All I can do is to give him a proper burial.

I hope he hasn’t left a grieving family behind.

But wait! I don’t want to deprive some bird

or mammal of a high protein meal, and I do

hope the slug has a family, grieving or not,

so his species will continue in perpetuity.

I’ll just sit back and let nature take its course.

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