I stared at the sidewalk on the way to class this morning, trying to avoid wormicide, to avoid splattering slimy segments up the back of my pants, wishing I hadn’t worn flip flops. The air smelled ripe and swampy. Some of them were stretched out long, trying to get to the other side safely. Some were curled up into themselves, trying to present as small a target as possible for the thumping soles.
“I wear flip flops on our dairy farm,” said my student. “I’ve been stepped on a few times and gotten broken toes, but that doesn’t bother me. I hate worms. They creep me out. I think it’s because they slither towards you. I had to talk on the phone to distract myself on the way to class.”
Eden made a worm farm in a plastic bucket. She was so proud, carefully shoveling in dried out mud and adding a bit of water to the bottom. She dropped her five worm family into the bucket, where they sloshed around and disappeared. She later cried that she lost them. We dug around and found half of one and remains of another.
Isaac collects them in a toy watering can, all piled one on top of the other. Despite being educated about the optimal conditions for worm survival, he leaves them with only each other. He later laments that they have “deaded” and aren’t moving.
“I used to line them up on my grandma’s kitchen table,” said another student. “I’d give them baths in her sink. She couldn’t stand it. I don’t know why I touched them; they’re so gross. I think I drowned them.”
I walked back to my car, still staring at the sidewalk. What worms remained were dried out sticks or slimy shadows, the worms themselves carried across campus on someone’s tread. A few shiny curlicues slithered still, proving the sticking power of the worm.