In Defense of Saving a Worm On the Sidewalk

Outside, it was raining

The drops rolled off the air, not like beating scourges

More like a whispering veil, that caresses with cool, dangerous tenderness

I leapt over cattails to get to the sidewalk and got my feet wet

Worms squirmed among the pale maple leaves

and willow branches that lay on the wet asphalt

I picked up a big fat red one and threw him to the grass beside the road

I didn’t have a reason for it, except that I knew that when the sun came up the next day

he would die and his slimy, writhing-ness would shrivel up into another dead stick

That was the only really pointless thing I did that day

There’s an assumption at work in our minds that excludes the little things

the ones that aren’t so pretty, the expendable ones

There is a ration of compassion that our cynicism allows

That well doesn’t dry up unless you poison it

When my sister was a kid, she kissed slugs because she loved them

and she’s still around

The soothing clearness of a single raindrop on my cheek

There is a beautiful uselessness to sympathy that should not be ignored

I enjoyed the rain, as it gave me an excuse to be disheveled

The worms didn’t mind that I smiled at nothing. I took my time walking home

You can’t cure the world with one poem, and you shouldn’t want to

The best I can try for is to point a finger at the truth

Take the spotlight off the cobwebs in the corner of the stage, for a moment.


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