Little Things
by Ute Carson
Literary Yard, June 2019

Memory sifts our experiences in unpredictable ways.

Big events may get stuck in the mesh,

while small happenings slip through.

In the spring of 1945 I was four-and-a-half,

helping my mother earn extra food rations

by picking potato bugs

off of fresh green leaves in a farmer's field.

Because I was quick with my hands, my jar began to fill

with the yellow-and-black striped beetles.

Suddenly, my mother, picking just ahead of me, collapsed.

I rushed to her side, knelt and stroked her sweaty brow.

My grandmother, working an adjacent row, was beside us in an instant.

After my mother was whisked away for an emergency appendectomy,

grandmother took me home and stayed with me.

I clutched my catch tightly so as not to spill the little things

that were crawling halfway up the inside of the jar.

I dumped the tiny creatures onto the kitchen table and tried to count them

but they quickly scattered, so I put them back.

I felt my cheeks flush with joy. I had not lost a single one!

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