Walk With Earthworms

Forced from flooded burrows
They interrupt the wet sidewalk
in pencil-gray punctuations
Squiggles that swim in the margin of gutters
Some of the soft bodies writing their ways
under brittle maple leaves

I’m as fragile this morning
as their flushed-vein colored flesh
Rain bruised without buffer
of umbrella or outerwear
My body italicized
Bending into stings of sorrow

Zeus is having none of it
And claps his thunderous hands in distant
applause for his night crawling creations
For their capacity to reconstruct amputated parts
To consume the world’s waste
and return it gift wrapped as compost

He sends the sun as harbinger
Burrows dry until the next disaster
Evergreens and grass glisten
surrounded by dying leaves
Lobelia blossoms battle weeds for survival
Oranges betray California winter
in crayon color

But even the washed-out hues of a rainbow
fill only a fraction of the sky
Shadows skulk like hellhounds
behind dog days of summer
And I wonder how many
of an earthworm’s multiple hearts
have to crush before it can’t regenerate

Ellaraine Lockie