This entry is part 18 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011


In the morning, the new sprouted leaves
of basil in the earthen pot have been chewed
to lace. I’m not sure how it happens, for I
never see the slugs, though I’ve read
of a woman’s account of how she
watched one for months while bedridden,
and could hear it chewing on a leaf
of celery. I wonder, why don’t they defend
themselves? The yellow roses have
their spurs. The broad leaves of comfrey
are mean enough to drop into a salve
or tincture. Even the hordes of wild
garlic heads aim their spears at a sky
that threatens another day of rain.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil EraserPetition to Fullness →

6 Replies to “Defense”

  1. Hey, glad my mom’s column could serve as a source of inspiration!

    I’ve been reading about all the many, fiendishly clever ways in which plants do defend themselves. Seems like most of our medicine derives from that: the chemicals plants have evolved to ward off predators. The essential oils in basil that give it its distinctive flavor are presumably there for some such reason. But obviously they aren’t proof against molluscs.

  2. I’ve heard you can put out little bottle caps of beer and the slugs will drink that rather than eating your basil. Don’t know if they fall in and drown or just go sleep it off and forget to eat. . .

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