Created: 5th May, 2023

The World Without Me

I took a walk after the rain.

Another world was in each puddle,

shimmering, clouds racing

trees upside down.


My world – ours – never really cared,

which didn’t seem quite fair.

The ocean should be sorry

when it drowns a person.


Then I saw a worm

in a puddle, still alive,

gesturing to me. The worm

was visible in two worlds,


above and below, its white-pink

body swelling from water. I don’t know

if it was in pain – maybe – and though

I didn’t want to touch it,


I reached down and snatched it up

and laid it in the low grass.

In the world without me, the worm died.

But in this world, I saved a worm.


© Ted Kooser & Connie Wanek, from Marshmallow Clouds, Walker 2022