The clouds hung heavy and thick overhead
More gray in this light than black.
The thunder that rattled our windows last night
Was gone but threatened to be back.
The grass was soggy, the earth fully soaked
As happens after steady, strong rain.
The earthworms that tunnel beneath our feet
Were forced from the ground once again.
Half-heartedly trying to stay out of puddles
As off to school we trotted that day,
The worms, so plentiful all over the street
Made a challenge to find a clear way.
The playground at school was already buzzing
As we caught up with our friends playing ball.
I noticed some boys on the edge of the pavement
Watching the earthworms wiggle and crawl.
I focused my thoughts on the game at hand
The other girls were already playing.
When out of the blue the boys charged in
Holding worms before us dangling and swaying.
“Eeeww! Gross! Get away!” my playmates cried.
The worms flew, the boys were all howling.
All my friends screamed and darted away,
But I refused and stood there, just scowling.
I picked up the worms and flung them right back!
My attack caught them all off guard.
But the next thing I knew, a full war had erupted
Worms flying all over the school yard!
At first our skirmish went undetected
By the teacher on duty, Miss Grace
But then she looked up to see a fat worm
Fly from my hand to hit a boy’s face!
Miss Grace shuffled across the playground,
“Young lady!” she called clear and loud.
Dozens of hands silently dropped their weapons
A stillness fell over the crowd.
“What is the meaning of all this commotion?
Your behavior is full of disgrace!
Go and put your nose up against that wall,
And don’t let me see your face!”
“But Miss Grace!” I began to argue.
“It wasn’t me who started this mess!”
“Enough!” she retorted, unwilling to listen,
And others not willing to confess.
I stood with my nose against the wall.
All the rest of the playtime I fumed.
I was ready to exact my revenge,
The War of the Worms would resume!
Perhaps the Lord intervened that day
For the afternoon grew bright and sunny.
The worms were gone when school let out.
The episode now just seemed funny.
But thirty years later these thoughts re-emerge
On a morning still wet from spring rain
When worms again cover the pavement
Thoughts of the war fill my mind again.
In my skirt and my heels I stoop to the ground
And choose a particularly fat one.
Vengeance it seems will be mine at last!
Now to end the battle I’d not begun.
The man in the bathroom who’s tying his tie
Doesn’t know that he should be wary.
The boy, you see, who started that war,
Is the man I chose to marry.