Our Lady of Worms

Graceful sideways sidewalk dancer!
Delicately, blindly, probe
barriers & chasms (tap, sniff,
touch, taste). Then, equally gently,
bridge them. Oh, you wriggler, tickler

of palms, and terrains, and all things
subterranean; earth’s lively
living fingers that so boldly
venture skyward, robed in a slick
Joseph’s coat whose rainbow arcs from

chocolate to sand, from peony
to pulsing red, urgent as youth,
as reproduction. How lovely.
How very lovely you are. How
sad I am to see you aching,

crusted with sand and soil, muscles
meant for dancing stuttering as
grit tugs and scrapes flesh stiffly back.
You persist. After all, this is
life and death, a journey from home

to the unknown, from unknown to
the unknowable. I don’t know —
would you rather die now, like this,
or recover and try again?
I insert a twig under you,

into a momentary gap
beneath your arching belly, then
for a moment, you are airborne
as I carry you to the green
grass, soil moist as it’s meant to be.

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