Soul of a Worm
I thought as I was digging in my backyard garden
This minor miracle presents a perplexing challenge to
To any self-respecting Theologian.
My spade had, without cruel intent,
Split the creature in two with, what to myself
Was just another stroke, but to the worm
Must’ve been an epic violence.
And, as I learned in seventh grade biology,
Both ends lived. Both ends continued squirming in
In rich, chocolate soil.
The biological question is simple enough, but
The spiritual significance is tantamount.
What does this do to the consciousness
Or soul of the creature?
I imagined myself split down the middle
Trying to sustain control over each revolting end –
A double consciousness. It was tough, even to imagine.
How does the Dalai Lama answer this question?
It is much more easy and convenient to visualize
A localized soul aggregating material around itself
Than a single consciousness controlling two disparate
Living, squirming ends.
Did I create another soul with my little violence in the garden?
Did my disproportionate physical attack spawn a
Likewise disproportionate philosophical decimation?
The girl behind the counter at the mall
Daisy-eyed and flushed with starry glitter
Wore a dangling faux-wrought-iron peace sign
That doesn’t mean what it used to.
In the Sixties, when my parents
Stood up for the rights of soldiers and minorities
On fresh-faced college campuses,
The three interlocking bars encircled
Were an emblem of the similarity
Of all human needs and desires
And a recognition that each
Was as important as the other:
Compassion unfolds into love
Enfolds a community working together
Towards shared goals for the betterment of all.
Today, the symbol of peace and progress
Hung from the associate’s neck
In the same store she bought it for only $26.99:
The profits of which will not trickle down
To this girl’s paycheck, but, rather will
Succor the multinational conglomerate
Whose interest are largely invested
In South Africa. Today, the three bars encircled
Are an emblem of the resignation to a peace
That benefits the intangible few; an emblem
Of the declawing of the young vibrant animals
Who need the best defense.
Peter Fernbach’s most recent full length collection The Blooming Void, BlazeVOX Books, was published spring 2010 and will be used as a class text in classrooms in the Adirondack region.