An earthworm breaches the surface
of the pitched hillside where a boy
sits, knees up, sneakers braced
against a grass-stained slide
to the street. The creature stops
the boy’s breath, not from fright
but from greeting. Child zoologist,
his glass-jarred toad dreams in alcohol.
A real cat’s skull from a specimen
catalog reigns on the shelf. Today
the surge of a worm to his side.
The boy runs to his room
knowing this joy could be written.
Some exact words about sister earthworm.
Grasping pencil, he turns into a child
too consciously thinking himself as a child
inspired to write what a child
would write if a child were inspired.
He gapes at the paper. Writes nothing.
Goes back outside.
For five decades he wonders what he could say
for a single stray earthworm in spring,
unaware of him, both above ground
in the shade.
David P. Miller’s chapbook, The Afterimages, was published in 2014 by Červená Barva Press. His poems have appeared in publications including Meat for Tea, Ibbetson Street, Painters and Poets, Fox Chase Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Oddball Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, and Incessant Pipe.