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                                    Sally Rosen Kindred

I am sorry the worm is alive. I’m sorry
it’s on my pink sleeve, that the boy threw it
in the air and it landed, that he laughed,
that my own son didn’t know
where to put his hands
when it flew. The worm is simple,
unlike the rest of winter.
It’s malice, pink and tender brown.
The worm is not the vision
I asked for. It’s a grave insult
to flight. I don’t want to fight
about the worm, but here it is, boneless,
its shame my shame, curling
on my sleeve because I don’t
belong here, because a boy I hardly knew
threw it and my own son lifted
his hands and then he laughed. Did he
laugh? Why did I wear pink
today? Why would I ever
wear pink, the color of the body
inside, color of the worm’s damp edge,
and in November? I want nothing
to do with it, the season that gave us
the worm, the Lord
that gave us the worm, the anger
that sent it flying for me, coiling
in cold midair, the ugliness it knows
is mine. A body soft with it, turning on my arm,
a forced smile, the delicate body
of my shame. My son asked what it’s made of.
My own son asked Where are the bones?
I don’t know the name
of the worm, I say it can’t come home
with us, I say a worm can’t sleep
in a bed, can’t eat bread at our table. I lie
to get the worm off my sleeve. Again I lie
about who I am. I foist the whole limp thing
onto a tree with my thumb, I cover it
with some moss, I sing a sour tune
all the way to the car
to cover the sad world in moss, to move out
of this place where roots burrow and rise
and sparrows worry the mud
that opens and ribbons and moans.

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