Earthworms

mariposa

He is no Woland –
this Orange Devil in a suit
with flabby lips he steps out
of the television
as if none of it were real

His Trojan Horse
driven to the capital
by a team of millions
hopped up small words
and big faith
brandishing old weapons
horsemen of the apocalypse
take their posts
and Aleppo
and leaking pipelines
and refugees
and I finally, struck dumb,
I notice it is raining

It has been raining all day
the streets are flooded
the creeks are rising and even
the amanitas and false chantarelles under the oaks
so shy in recent years
erupt in celebration
from earthy sleep
as the atmospheric river
flows on to distant lands
in the sky

There have always been rescuers
of earthworms –
We do what we do
so many of these pinkish pilgrims
feeling with the deluge from their holes
wriggling towards higher ground
but finding the asphalt hard
and unyielding, the water pooling
so few can save themselves

Still, in my boots and cotton pants
I save as many as I can
knowing in my heart
that each earthworm returned
safely to the soil means hundreds
more will die so long as the rains fall
so long as the floodwaters rise
so long as passersby remain indifferent
to their peril

But we worm savers are not deterred
we do not turn our backs on the few
we can reach when the death toll rises
we do not go inside to stay dry
and cover our ears from the
suffering of the lowly worm
even when we know they are solitary
creatures and the Nightcrawlers are not
native to this soil and classified as
simple as complex creatures go
but just one, even broken in half,
might bury the tiny seed of a redwood
which will grow, in time,
into that great grandmother of all trees
and die in fire or by time
only to give birth to
a circle of saplings in her place
where the Pileated Woodpeckers
make their nests
and the ringtail cat hunts
and the Indians once made houses
of their red bark
and the ferns hold council in their circles
and the slugs traipse across the duff
and the asphalt stays a little cooler
under the scorching sun
until the great trees crack the path
with their knitted roots
and the worms bury the crumbling pieces
under eons of castings

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