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