Claudia Buckholts

My spading fork heaves them up alive
from their homes, the young blood-red,
sinuous, the old ones knotted and pale.

Earthworms tunnel under garden beds,
compost-makers, processing dirt and debris,
turning compacted clay where nothing grows

into a garden, a paradise of green, here and
hereafter. Caught in the beam of my flashlight,
they dart away. I hear them say, What we

cast off will save you. Sometimes I see them
transfixed under the moon, their torsos swaying
like cobras when the snake charmer plays his flute,

writhing together, oblivious, undistracted in their
mating rite. Rusty annelids, they flick tails suffused
with blood, and the tuning fork of earth resounds.