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By Kim Everson, DVM

Tonight I was asked by my neighbor to remove a kernel of corn from her son’s ear canal.

Swallowing chuckles, flanked by his desperate mother aiming a light at the barely protruding foreign body and my incredulous son (his best friend), I try first to suction the kernel out with a baby nasal aspirator. Failing with this approach, I grab a pair of finely pointed forceps from my veterinary cold sterilization tray.
The boy whimpers when he sees the instrument, although it is no more sinister than a pair of tweezers.
“You must hold still,” I warn. “If this doesn’t work, you’re off to the hospital.”

With a steady hand and held breath, I reach into the opening of the ear canal and grasp at the kernel. The offending golden seed glides from the boy’s ear. It feels as though I just successfully grabbed the “funny bone” from the Operation man without setting off a buzzer.

Amid cheers and high fives, we part ways for the evening. My arm around my son’s shoulders, I have a weird nostalgia feeling as we walk into our house. I’m rather proud of my performance and wonder if my son is similarly impressed. And I’m thinking of my own mom being heroic under extraordinary circumstances in a memory from so long ago it feels more like a dream than reality. In college I commemorated the experience with the following poem later published in UW Eau Claire’s 1998 NOTA. In honor of moms everywhere rocking at improvisation in times of crisis (and with its slightly spooky Halloween theme), I present:


The skinny
scream of the bunny
pierces the adults
to their kitchen
all except for Mother
who flies to her bare feet
and in a voice I’ve never
heardvibrant and
Suddenly the objects
appear, submitted
by leaf-trembling
children sooted with
alfalfa dust and wearing gnome-like
wigs of spiky yellow straw.

While the bunny
cries on the table,
she grasps
the torn flap of hide,
rinses dust and leaves
from the bloody meat beneath
silent now,
surrounded by silence,
except for the spiraling
shriek of the bunny.
She holds him between
her legs, pressing him still
with solid thighs, as she
calmly weaves black
thread through the eye of the needle.

As easily as she glides
our summer green
warty legless frogs
into the boiling cauldron
to pickle,
Mother eases the needle
through one slice of soft
hide into the other,
pulling the torn pieces
taut into the whipstitch.

She needs no
finger-pointing from
the stunned children
to divine the truth.
The evil eye she
levels at the smallest two
boysthe ones whose tug
of war broke the animal—

is not a curse, not hatred
but fear and shock and

Still wordless
she knots the thread
as peacefully as tying
off a newly darned
sock, rests the quieting
bunny in a shoe box
and sighs,
breaking the spell.

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