Yesterday, I chased Eva with a Q-tip,
and finally caught her, pinned
her down, like some exotic, menacing
butterfly, my knees on her elbows--
Just let me clean your ears. I growled.
She kicked, cried. But it was before then
when I went to find the Q-tips
that I thought, Sarah, of you.
They were on the highest shelf
(ears not being our top priority);
I had removed them from their blue box,
and they were in a glass jar, a jar
that had once been a homemade terrarium,
a gift from a friend who had driven
twenty-seven hours with two sick boys
and a moody man just to sleep on my floor.
It's its very own eco-system, she said.
Reaching into that jar, I thought of child-you,
of how child-you must have worn her hair,
of how child-you must have read Ramona Quinby,
and then there was the child-you (pensive) who
was told of her mother's death, the child-you
who must have stood on the other side
of doors, the child-you who might, one night,
have gone looking for Q-tips, pulling out drawers,
ripping through cabinets. Don't touch it,
my friend told me. It seemed, at first,
this Missouri-made world might really thrive,
might bloom impossibly. My heart ached.
Maybe I held Eva down harder than
I would have. Finally, she gave in. I swept the tip
all around. Some girls don't have anyone
to clean their ears, I told her. How do you think
that would feel? By then, she had wriggled
her way free. I stood there alone, feeling the heat
of the light that pressed in on our windows.