Vanessa Stirling

earthworm on brown soil

Vanessa Stirling tries to balance her marketing career with creative work focusing on motherhood, the workplace, and why those relationships feel so strange. Her work has appeared in Eat, Darling, Eat and Literary Mama.

The blessing of the common earthworm

Best of the Net Nominee 2023

Going to the stop sign and back requires
our watching a brown fury of a squirrel
dash circles across and up over a Sweet Gum.
Maybe she needs dinner planned, too. I need this walk, over.
Every stick my son finds must be a sword, a wand, an aircraft
to arc across the overworked grey sky. Towering cumulus clouds hang
like dirty laundry, like deadlines, like my next conference call.
Mom-smile on, I’m forced under the twisted Pitch Pines,
we must spend twenty minutes on each and every
angry yellow or pouting white dandelion. Bird song
tick tick ticks with my clutched phone’s clock, and now
he wants to watch all the befuddled squirrels.
Finally, I see my yet-another-thing-to-do garden,
knock out roses flout their blooms,
their free and airy existence a cherry pink smirk in my face,
as Ian dawdles behind in deliberate slipknot loops. Every step a stop,
a crouched contemplation then rescue of each earthworm, one by one by one
from the hot cracked concrete to the green cool safety of Ms. Samira’s immaculate lawn.
I’m bigger, stronger, tireder than this curious freckled child.
In moments, I could whip return, bodily drag him back to the TV,
stomp so I can have my meeting, make dinner, fold socks
away from this scurrying, blooming, singsonging world.
He knows it’s all up to him to save each pathetic brown squiggle
before they drown in the coming rain.
And that’s my real role in creation. Wait
for rescue and then the blessing of the worms.