Quarantine in Worm World

by Amelia Gorman

“If all the matter in the universe except the nematodes were swept away, our world would still be dimly recognizable, and if, as disembodied spirits, we could then investigate it, we should find its mountains, hills, vales, rivers, lakes, and oceans represented by a film of nematodes.”
Nathan Cobb, “Nematodes and their Relationships”, 1914


Here in the middle she’s compelled by pests
on every side. Walls rise around and force
her to step back from the Pacific Crest.
Her breath attaches to itself like remoras.
She never saw the Grand Canyon, doesn’t
think she ever will. Or a tumbleweed.
But somewhere out there now, All-That-Wasn’t
still cuts a deep vein in the earth and grieves
until the end. But she is stuck in place
like a museum display, a glass jar,
restrained. She never saw the Grand Staircase
Escalante, or eased through Voyageurs.
Even if she could now, she’d only see
worms make up redwood and Joshua tree.



Amelia Gorman is a recent transplant to Eureka, California. In her free time you can find her exploring the forests and tidepools with her dogs and foster dogs. Her first chapbook, Field Guide to Invasive Species of Minnesota, is forthcoming from Interstellar Flight Press. Jim Baron is the owner, with his wife Liz, of the Dallas-based Blue Mesa Grill restaurants and TNT/Tacos and Tequila. He’s been a surf bum all his life, with his late brother Bob and younger brother Dan. He spends a couple hours every day painting water colors, and happiness for him is being on the beach with Liz, Kate, Zak, Ian, and Lola, the labradoodle, who runs the show.

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