by Carmen Leone

Whatever it means,
how could you not love its squirming sounds?
The only place I’ve seen it used in context
is in a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins,
so I still don’t know what it means.
He speaks of a falcon swooping,
And this reminds him of embers that
“fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.”
Vermillion then is something that can be gashed,
something that can be gold.

I could look it up,
But what if it doesn’t mean “a million tiny worms”?
I picture them in a bowl,
twisted and tangled like thin spaghetti
in bright red sauce.
If sprinkled with tiny cellos instead of cheese,
they become vermicelli.

Don’t, please don’t look it up.
Or if you do, don’t tell me what you find,
Or the word will be nothing more
than a city southwest of Cleveland.
It will no longer squirm
in my concave bowl of a brain
making me happy as Sunday dinner.

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Carmen J. Leone taught English at Cardinal Mooney, Struthers High, Edinboro University of PA and more recently at YSU until his retirement in 2008. He’s the author of Rose Street: A Family Story and Rose Street Revisited. He’s the father of many, the grandfather of even more. Carmen spends much of his retirement time writing, cartooning, and playing in a country band with a couple of his boys and some friends.