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“Earthworm Lore” by Stan Absher

Earthworm Lore


In the lore of the nightcrawler and red wriggler,

it’s said that, when Jesus knelt and wrote in the dust,

their progenitors saw it from below

(saw it, though they had no eyes!)—

two vertical lines for the tree of life, and two

along the bottom for the river of life.`


As He wrote, they saw those lines also engraved

on the wide palm of His hand, framing the names

He’d made and blessed, billions of us, written

in vanishingly small

nanoscale, miraculously legible

letters. And some say, on a golden wall


of the Holy of Holies in heaven are two

upright lines, the trees of wisdom and life;

two horizontal, for the waters we drink

from once and never again thirst;

and squiggly lines for the Annelida

underfoot: these least that shall be first.


And they say Jesus saw the little worms

and promised: You will enrich the soil of Zion

and restore the loam of Eden. When My hands

that rolled you from clay and mud

are pierced, you will see the fount of red

composting death with vivifying blood.

This piece was published in 2023 as part of the 12th Annual Mormon Lit Blitz by the Mormon Lit Lab. Sign up for our newsletter for future updates.

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