Five


On the far side of a hospital parking lot
I found, inching across the grit on the pot-holed asphalt,
a giant snail -the largest I'd ever seen
with my small eyes. Its black shell shone
in the rays of the setting sun.

With gravel digging into my palms
and into my knees, I delighted over the slimy trail
that the snail left in its wake, and called
to my dad across the lot; he was waiting with me
in our exile away from the E.R.

I could bring the snail with me, save it from
the crushing tires of a California minivan.
We would name it something cute, my sister and I
-once she got better. Moving lethargically in a plastic cage,
it would be the prize of show-and-tell. I smiled.

Engrossed in its progress, I hardly noticed my father
as he stood over me, taking a picture with his ever-present
Canon. His mustache twitched in interest so I presented my hopes;
he said, in his gruff Chinese, 'airplanes are no place for snails.
Hey, look at that sunset.'

Just like that, I turned away and still, the snail proceeded,
its slimy trail gleaming in the orange rays of the setting sun.

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