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Dorothy Albertini for worms

Found at the train tracks. A worm of indescribable length. We had a feeling he would be lost if we took him with us, so we left him there, though it was the train tracks, which seemed dangerous. At least loud. But what were we to do? We have learned so many lessons about disruption. We were sure that this, for once, was the only thing, the right thing, the good thing, to do.

We always wanted clear consciences, ever since we could remember wanting. We wanted to think of ourselves sleeping at night, having done what we ought to during the day. Sleep should be as deep as any quarry. We should sleep when an obstacle had been noted, met, and surpassed. For weeks after we found the worm, we woke and did not speak of it, but we heard what we heard, and what we heard woke us in the night. The trains, each one after the other, rumbled across the long town.

In the spring there were more worms.

In the warm rains of the early summer, there were so many more. We hardly found a moment to remember the first, that one worm at the train tracks. When we thought of it, we weren’t sure what to remember, what might have distinguished it, as a worm, from all the worms after, all the worms of our world in the time since the one worm we left near all those trains, that noise, the earthshaking traffic of sleepless nights. By then of course we were sleeping again. By then, of course, we had no idea what that first worm looked like, or why we should be concerned. We knew we had done the right thing, and we had seen so much else born in the springtime.

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