The Worm (Jack Coulehan)

This is a day of trowin up
and cry for de belly,
 a day de pickanee, him toss
de whole night tru.

This a day your child of bones
is wasting away with watery stool.

This is a day I twist in me belly bottom
and de pickanee, him grindin his teet,

a day of worn joints,
of bad lungs coughing bright red blood
and grainy throats
sore as marl roads ground in sun,

a day of bodies to fingers,
fingers to lips,
of lips to eggs
and eggs to worms,

of loneliness to pangs of loss, of loss 
to oily medicine, of oil to angry throats, 
of angry throats to light, of light 
to light’s absence, the dividing line
 of light and time, of time to a lizard
 which waits on the wall, of the wall 
to rain on the corrugated roof, of the roof
to loneliness, of loneliness to deep escape,
of deep escape to deep connection,

a day of sadness to sickness and sickness to movement
and movement to song and song to the past
and past

to pain, to the worm that inhabits us,
until at last this metal roof is silent
and in darkness crickets mark.

Discussion Questions:

1. Does this poem remind you of when you were sick as a child? What are some of the similarities and differences between your experience and the family described in the poem?

2. What phrases and words help you identify what the child is experiencing in this poem?

3. Coulehan describes the day as ‘a day of sadness to sickness and sickness to movement and movement to song and song to the past and past.’ What does this tell you about how the culture responds to illness?

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