Embarrassed Environmental Poem

It’s so dry I feel bad for the bugs.
I found a bean worm clinging to a lettuce leaf,
the bean leaves long since turned ghost white
like scraps of toilet paper lost from their chore.
Loving lettuce the most unfair though it is to favor
one thing over another the way a mother for reasons
she’s ashamed to admit loves one child more,
my beloved lettuce receives a few drops of artificial rain.

WATER proclaim the bold faced white letters
decorating the plastic bottle I just sipped from,
a refilled bottle left behind by an environmentally
unconscious friend who buys water and wastes plastic,
each to our own waste, guiltless or no, I deliver
drizzled water to my grateful lettuce grateful it accepts
my gift of fake rain and drinks.

The desperate bean worm
isn’t desperate enough yet to eat lettuce,
poor dehydrated looking blob of yellowness like a tired balloon
wishing the children’s birthday party was over,
the worm hasn’t chewed a single hole in the lettuce leaf
I lift drippy with water from the sink

imagining the worm grateful for the bath saying,
“thank you.” I feed the worm to the compost pail,
struggling against hoping it survives to spin
a cocoon and bloom a bean beetle to eat my beans
next summer. Summer? Summer is supposed to be
hot, but it’s October and I’m wearing shorts,
headed for the porch to sit in my chair and gawk
at the almost full moon because full moons are magic,
make wishes come true if you believe in wishing

—a syllogism based on a false premise I made up
to make the bean worm and me feel better.
For lack of other alternatives
the bean worm and I, both, are trying hard
to believe in wishing.

Leslie Lytle’s poems have appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, The Georgia Review, Literary Review, New England Review and elsewhere. In her novel Chicken Stock (Hedgehog and Fox, 2015), a young woman desperate to save the family farm battles corporate agriculture. In Execution’s Doorstep (nonfiction, University Press of New England, 2008) five innocent men struggle against a system that wants to execute them for crimes they didn’t commit—“in real life, the true hell just might be inside the heads of the innocent men behind bars.” (Playboy, Nov. 2008). She works as a reporter for the Sewanee Mountain Messenger. Read other articles by Leslie.