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By the Light of A Single Worm


ISSUE:  Winter 2004

Kerala, India


Land snails the size of hockey pucks
slime a shimmer along craggy roots. A mantis
wipes its eyes with her forelegs like she’s taking
off a new sweater. A certain earthworm
luminesces so strongly here, a zoology professor
once wrote a whole lecture by the light
of a single worm. My hand washes blue
& tiny hairs above the knuckle look electric.
Soil becomes glitter, even the flattest stone
turns into cabochon. When I bathe, a lizard
shaped like a cassava root with blue eyes
spies on me from the corner of the ceiling. I’ve seen
them fall on dinner tables, into noodle puddings,
the cold ceramic of the kitchen sink, & I just know
I will be next. I turn off the light, knowing that
in darkness they run along baseboards, savoring
picture frames until sunrise. I finish my bath
in the darkness with only the glow from the garden,
listen for any evidence of a tell-tale splash.

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