My daughter Magda is four years old and a frightening specimen. I’m running out of preschools that will take her. “We can’t tell when she’s kidding,” they tell me, “It scares us.” I know: you need an example. Yesterday in the grocery store, darling little Magda, riding in the shopping cart, waved a cucumber at the checkout girl and said, “Hey, Daddy, what does this look like?” I don’t know how she knows what it looks like, but she has access to books. They had to give her a library card when she completed her own application. And found a typo. She’s doing a play for preschool called “My Garden.” They’ve cast her as The Worm. She asked me to contribute a poem and here’s what I wrote:

A little worm is born with me.
He eats me as I go.
And everything I think I learn,
The worm already knows.
My life’s discreet; I eat no meat;
The cows die anyway.
The worms all gather, in apocalyptic weather,
And make a last meal of the one that got away.
I fall in love, which makes them laugh.
My lover dies before me.
I make the world a better place;
My neighbors all abhor me.

Then I got stuck. Magda said she could finish it for me. Tonight, backstage, I overheard her talking to her teacher who already looked appalled. “Mommy died,” she told the poor woman, “But Daddy was acquitted.” She was adorable in her little worm costume, under the spotlights as always, out on that other stage. I heard my poem read aloud, then this:

The worm’s is not an easy life.
She lives on human fatality.
She chews on bone and drinks our tears,
And crawls through the marrow with a
Certain, if inconvenient, undeniable vitality.

Copyright © September 08, 2007 David Hodges

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