celebration Poetry

WORMS AND BIRTHDAYS | Jodie Manning shares a poem about worms, the passage of time and gratitude.

Poetry

by Jodie Manning

On every birthday I remember,
every year in mid-November,
when that day came slouching round
I wished that I lived underground.
Down where the worms and musty roots
fight for space
like men in suits at 8am on the Northern Line.

Worms don’t think about wasted time
or toss at night in their cosy beds
with whispers sprinting through their heads
of how everyone they have ever met will die
in a 
random 
unknowable 
order.

I’m sure that worms don’t lose their sleep
over chances missed and that they don’t keep
a list of all the times they weren’t quite brave enough.

And I know that .gif of Shia LaBoeuf 
screaming ‘Just. Do. It.’ in front of a screen
is a crucial part of the daily routine
of precisely 
z e r o 
worms.

*

I used to wish that I could hide
from birthdays – shut myself inside
my room and cried for all the lifetimes
passed, 
in moments, 
since the last.

Birthdays made me think of death,
of ‘mortal coil’ and ‘final breath’,
and when you believe you’re kind of young,
those things don’t sound like much fun,
especially when you’ve still got
a hundred thousand things
you’ve not
done.

But from this birthday I’ll remember,
I’ve reached another mid-November.
Shuffled through another year
of joy and doubt and hurt and fear
and pain and glee and raw despair
and happiness beyond compare.
And every lunchtime, every breath,
every birth and every death
that passed unmarked by the worms and roots – 
all safe and warm beneath my boots,  
who never lie awake at night,
wracked by what they’ve not got right,
and never get to feel the thrill
of losing too much time to kill – 
were there to show me I’ve survived
a few more years past twenty-five,
and though my houseplants never thrive,
and I’ve not yet even learned to drive,
I am still,

somehow,

alive.


Jodie Manning | @JodieKate | jodiekate.com
Jodie is a charity worker and amateur writer, based in London. Enthusiastic about being enthusiastic, her work is predominantly nonfiction and pop culture analysis.

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