Tomato Hornworms

My stepfather used to crouch in the middle of his tomato patch and listen
He swore he could hear hornworms munching and
The slow steady stretching of growth.
He prayed for the absence of the first the presence of the latter.
I laughed at the old man for pretending to hear worms chewing and plants growing.
He ignored me and crouched in the patch all the same.
Then several years ago, I was tending my tomatoes and I heard it.
It was so soft a sound I had to lean closer
I had to crouch down between the plants to hear it
It was the tiny, almost silent, sound of a hornworm chewing.
I turned my head toward the source and I saw it!
Inches from my face, chewing like this was his patch and
These were his tomatoes.
I gently picked him off the plant.
My step father said to drop hornworms in a bucket of soapy water.
My uncle always said to throw them on the roof.
I smiled and threw that fat green worm on the roof.
A second later, it rolled right back down, bounced off on my head, and onto the ground
I picked it up and threw it again.
Again it fell back to my garden.
Frustrated, I picked it up again and was about to throw it on the roof a third time
But I stopped and considered my options.
Then I pulled back my arm and threw it as hard as I could
Onto my neighbor’s roof.

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