"there's no through trail" —Han-Shan, translated by Gary Snyder

Lessons from Under the Worm Stone by Carol Hamilton

Issue: Spring 2017

Lessons from Under the Worm Stone

 

Through long labor and much watching,
Darwin posited that the earthworm’s
favorite food was carrots. Not only
was, but surely is, since Darwin’s studies
dealt in eons, not days or years.
That final book he pushed to complete,
seeing the end of his hours
on our human scale turning stark
and short before him, was his best seller.
He placed a stone over his field
and for 30 years watched
the work of worms beneath it.
He produced similar conditions
for study indoors as well,
determined that worms do not seem
to care much for art or music.
These small wrigglers, he wrote,
live only to devour and digest,
and in their tiny ways thus they create
the conditions for our human survival,
leave us soil to sustain us as planters.
Adam and Eve, remembering and
striving to recreate that first garden,
set us up at the beginning.
But how long did the worms work
preparing for that moment?


Carol Hamilton has recent and upcoming publications in Common Ground, Gingerbread House, Main Street Rag, Sacred Cow, U.S.1 Worksheet, Pontiac Review, Louisiana Literature, Abbey, 805, Poem, Third Wednesday, One Trick Pony, Plainsongs, and others. She has published 17 books, most recently, Such Deaths from the Virtual Arts Cooperative Press in Chicago. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has been nominated seven times for a Pushcart Prize.