John Lane



The Unbeliever
 
Neil Armstrong’s historic moon walk
took place in a film studio, according
to Hattie Parker, expert worm harvester
at the Rice Bait Ranch on Asheville Highway.
We were harvesting red wrigglers
with huge bent forks, a 1969 summer job
in a ragged row of teenage summer jobs,
this harvesting memory’s wet loam.
Hattie didn’t believe we could go there—
and said so. Everybody laughed but me.
She described the fake set-up on TV,
all easier than the magic of physics
it would take to place a man that far out.
She squatted over the beds of wigglers
and pulled tangled tribes of worms
from the fertile ground nourished
with cow manure slopped from barrels.
The black & white TV with foil
on its antlers showed Neil stepping out
on the lunar soil. Or at least they said so.
A small step, then the bouncing walk
like Charley Chaplin, all contrived.
Nearly 20 years later, I’m thinking
of Hattie’s lack of interest in a TV stunt.
She kept to her job through the drama
of somebody else’s history, her ample
legs spread on the stool, the steady rhythm
of the fork. “I ain’t nobody’s fool.” She shook
a clutch of fishing worms in a paper cup.




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