Joseph Trance

Digging for Worms




  I awake wanting worms.  I get up slowly, trying not to wake my wife , and  In early morning twilight, I leave my house and walk into my backyard .  I head for the Earth behind the tool shed to dig for worms.  I am dressed in shorts, tee shirt and sandals I walk out into the warmth of a summer morning as sunlight begins to rise.  I walk across the soft green grass of my manicured lawn, past the red and white rose bushes, the yellow and orange flowers, and the plum and peach trees.

   The morning air is sweet and I take a moment to breathe in the smell of fruit and flowers.  I close my eyes and consider going back into the house and back to bed, but the memory of digging for worms is too strong and my fingers flex with the want of dirt.  Dirt; moist, deep, brown, smelling of earth.  The  dirt that gets between my fingers and  under my nails as I dig deep for worms.  Red worms, grey worms, covered in slime that can crawl over my hands and down my legs.   I can hold them and rub them between my fingers and feel the slime cover my skin.  They turn and curl as I pick them up and I love watching them bend and unravel in my hands.  With the memory of the feeling of worms and slime and dirt, I make a decision to not go back to bed, not return to clean sheets and wife, and move slowly to the area behind the shed.

   I push pass the bushes and flowers with the prickly things that pierce my skin in small places, making it bleed in spots.  I move past the piled up broken wood boards with nails that stick out and make sure that I don’t hurt myself anymore.  Then I am there.  The space behind the shed.  I have cleared a space where the dirt is soft.  I look at the spot, close my eyes and breathe it in.  The air is cooler here, away from the morning streaks of sun.  I breathe in and  smell “moist and wet.”  I open my eyes, flex my fingers and then slowly kneel down,

I slide my open palms over the dirt and feel its  smoothness caress my skin.  Mmmmm….so…cool.  I flex my fingers into it.  Gently at first…gently feeling it.  Then, moved by the desire to feel it deeper, my fingers enter into it.  Past the surface, they flex…they begin to dig.  Wet, dark, brown and moist…not quite mud…but the beginnings of slime.  I kneel down lower as my fingers go down deeper.  I grab two handfuls now and bring them up like two small shovels.  I sift it between my fingers looking for the feel of slimy flesh.  Slowly it falls between my fingers as I feel for the worms.  Nothing.

  I look at the turned earth and eye search for them.  Nothing.  I go in again with my hand shovels and this time I dive deep, meshing the earth , hard.  Then I begin to sift down there, not waiting to bring my hands back up to eye view.  Then I feel one.  In my right hand.  Long, thick and slimy.  I smile.  Mmmm.

  I feel it wiggling through my hand.  Making its way around my fingers.  Big.  Really big, this one.  I bring it up and finally look at it.  Red, thick and slimy.  A real keeper. 

“Hello.”  I say.  In response it lifts it’s head and almost looks like it’s looking at me.

“You’re beautiful,”  I say.

It curls around my fingers and slides through my hands.  It tickles me.  I laugh softly.  It’s amazing the feel of it against my skin.  I watch it make it’s journey around the landscape of my dirty hand.  I put my left  hand next to it, extending its path.  It slides from my right to left hand, leaving a slime trail.  It then curls around my left fingers making its way from thumb to index to middle to ring finger.  It lifts its head again and looks at me..almost questioning.  “Again?”  it seems to ask.

  “No.”  I smile. That’s enough for now.  Another time, another day.

I gently place my left hand down back into the soft dirt.  The worm slides through my fingers back into the earth.

“Bye.”  I whisper.

It returns home.

I slowly get up and stretch.  I close my eyes and breathe deeply again.  The smell and warmth of the sun calls me.  I move past nailed wood and prickly bushes and walk slowly back into my backyard.  The sun now shines brightly on my green grass, fruit trees and rose bushes.  It’s going to be a hot, warm day.  I head into the house to take a shower and remove the slime of the worm from my skin.


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