Snail Girl by Ela Steel; for more information, visit

The Existence of Snails

by Michelle Donahue

Without appendages an animal cannot touch her body, cannot
become acquainted with her curves. A snail slimes the sidewalk,
slowed by rough cement, the shadowed gap of each crack.
The body isn’t proof of existence. Elsewhere people crack shells
extract snail mucus to fight wrinkles—gathered crevices burrowing
in loosening skin. Existence, like a snail, depends on smoothness.

I cannot remember how he and I touched, but I can remember
not walking on sidewalk cracks; believing if I did, I would break
my back; how smooth my skin beneath touch. I remember: how
salt created thick froth at the entry of the snail’s home, how
the bubbles wouldn’t stop.

About Michelle Donahue

Michelle Donahue is a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Utah. She is prose editor at Quarterly West and earned an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming from Moon City Review, Bayou Magazine, Hobart, and others.