Three Poems

    The earth-measurer

there you were,
tubular, segmented.

I lay rocking
beneath leaves,

between maples,
in this hammock,
my leg a catwalk

for your looping gait.
Pushing forward
your body moved,

back to front
with measured cadence
and rhythm,

until I stirred. 

Erect and straight you stood,
cryptically colored,
resembling a twig,

standing motionless,
waiting to see
and wondering if

I would attack.  Satisfied,
you began again,

pushing forward,
back to front,
inch by inch, toward
your demise.  


Phylum of Earthworm

After the rain,
I looked for you.

I'd hoped to hold you,
watch you wiggle

in my hand.  
I'd planned

to take you home,
to name you:  Anna Lida. 

But, you'd miss the others.
So I let you go

to do your work,
to make tracks

with the troops,
the soft-bodied group

of ringed ones who ripple,
undulate and aerate. 

And now,
since I can't find you,

I imagine you're underground,
tunneling, traveling,

making passageways—
as you shorten, lengthen,

slide your segmented body
through burrows—

all the while pumping air
in and out, piston-like,

mixing the soil, doing
your work.  I looked for you,

Anna Lida, but you weren't there,
this May morning, after the rain.



Hundreds, thousands
lay in your larders.

Paralyzed prey pause,
wait to be eaten

inside pantries
laden with death.  But

before the banquet,
prior to the meal,

there's preparation. 
First, you'll squeeze—

force dirt
from the guts

of those you've touched,
those numbed by your toxin. 

Then, you'll feed
in milliseconds,

faster than eyes can follow. 
And after you've finished

you'll burrow—
propel your body

through tunnels,
'raise some hill,'

your ruinous rank.

You, you, Mouldywarp

with toxic saliva

and a penchant
for worms!

—Jeannie E. Roberts, Chippewa Falls, WI