A slow turn of the wrist, the skin of the earth rips
With a whisper of tearing canvas, dozens of tiny fingers
Unwilling to let go, branching into the lung diagram
From your oncologist’s office, sometimes an earthworm
Squirming in the shuddering root ball, dying of sunlight.
Holding so much desperation, such clotted will to live
Returns me to the foggy chaos of the calving,
The vet winching clogged life from the bellowing cow
Until it plopped steaming by her thrashing legs,
Persisting in the frozen morning where I watched,
Wide-eyed, the battle of what he ratcheted to life.
“Find a surgeon to cut that clean out,”
The ER doctor drawled, holding that first x-ray,
But sometimes they resist our determined tug and twist.
I see them spawning as I pass the lawns of neighbors,
Stretching for the life we want for others,
Hunger deeper than our hands can pull.
(First published in slightly different form in Susurrus, Summer 2023. Thanks to the editors.)