What They Don't Teach You to See
Awarded a Silver Key by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, 2017
When it rains, they wriggle to the surface
Like soft nostalgia, like buried thoughts,
To vie for rationed breaths.
They squirm out of the hands of death,
And they sigh and twitch under gentle, spattering rain
Only to be squashed under a rushing bicycle
Or snapped up in a charming robin’s sharp beak.
I think a lot about earthworms.
Their attempts to survive are met only with disgust.
When they heave themselves onto the pavement,
They await death.
Death at the hands of an innocent, perhaps,
A child who knows only what they think she ought to know.
Death by a deliberate boot, or someone running late to a meeting
Or that awful robin.
That, or death at the hands of the Earth.
I wander parking lots and sidewalks under roiling skies
To toss them back into the grass.
I see this as common courtesy.
But the futility of it haunts me.
I know there will always be another storm, another sidewalk,
And despite my efforts, they stiffen, speechless,
Fried on the asphalt.