KAREN J. WEYANT
With an eyedropper, my mother splashed rubbing alcohol on the wound, and we watched the round wiggling tick release its tight grip. Using tweezers, she snapped its body from my ankle’s thin skin and pressed a cotton ball to the single bead of blood.
I didn’t understand why her forehead folded between her eyes, why her mouth turned downward into a frown. She had taught me that when something was bleeding, it only hurt for a moment before getting ready to heal.
That afternoon, I sat on the kitchen sink, the porcelain cool under my thighs in spite of the mugginess that had crept into our house. As my mother worked, I stared at my other abrasions from the summer: scabs on elbows, blackberry bush scratches, a bruise that had speckled red just below my knee. I had spent the day in the woods located a few blocks from my house. Sporting my summer uniform of baggy shorts and halter tops, I had also worn sandals instead of what my mother wanted me to wear: long pants and sneakers with socks.
Now, as she placed a Band-Aid to my wound, I waited for her to scold me, or at the very least, to wonder out loud how I had gotten out of the house in my inappropriate clothes.
But she was silent.
I thought I knew the growing pains of nature. Snakes shed their itchy skin leaving coiled shells behind as they slithered away, shiny and new. Cicadas pushed themselves through their shells, leaving a skeleton like covering clinging to trees limbs, porch railings, even the chains of my swing sets. Just the day before, my father had shown me rust marks on a striped maple tree, explaining that bucks rubbed velvet from their antlers before a new rack pushed their way through. It took me a few minutes to realize the marks were really blood. Doesn’t hurt, but itches, he had explained.
All better, said my mother, kissing me on the forehead, her lips hitting me so hard that I almost lost my balance from my perch on the sink. I watched her twist the cap back on the rubbing alcohol and throw the Band-Aid wrappings in the trash. Then, I turned my attention to a single cinder embedded in the palm of my right hand, wondering how it had worked its way so far under my skin.
Karen J. Weyant’s poetry and prose has been published in The Barn Owl Review, Caesura, Cold Mountain Review, Poetry East, Storm Cellar, River Styx, Waccamaw, and Whiskey Island. Her most recent collection of poetry, Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt, won Main Street Rag’s 2011 Chapbook contest and was published in 2012. She teaches at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York. In her spare time, she explores the Rust Belt regions of Western New York and Northern Pennsylvania.