Archive for May, 2014

Mules 004

May 2014: Mule-a-Rama, Kimesville, NC

I thought that it was too early for ticks–surely they should wait until June to become a nuisance– but I have now had my first of the season. And it was fierce.

My father says that the way to remove ticks safely and easily is to coat them with Vaseline, wait 10 minutes, and then pull them off. “It makes them slick, though,” he added.

I guess it does. But as I said to him, I am unwilling to share space with a tick for an additional 10 minutes, even to wait for it to be smothered in petroleum by-products—a just and fitting end, if ever there was one. But I need the tick gone at once.

That was the problem in this case, because evidently while I was pulling savagely at his hind parts, the tick was clinging to my flesh for dear life and, no doubt from anxiety, pumping more of his toxins into my blood. So while I won the battle, I am afraid that the tick has won the war. I have a large red welt that itches, burns, and rubs against clothing in a way that is difficult to bear. It’s a constant reminder of the diseases that ticks carry, and how loathsome they are even if they are free of taint.

I sulked for most of one whole day about my bite, but as the day grew later I knew that I needed to sit down and write a letter to my friend, Ruby. So I sat down, and tried to think of some interesting news so as not to fill two pages with details about my tick bite.

Unfortunately, my tick bite was dominating my entire world. In my misery, I thrashed around trying to think of something to say, and my thrashings loosened a scrap of paper. I had torn it in half to use as a grocery list, and on the non-grocery list side I had printed out a poem by Mary Oliver, called “Praying.” Here.

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones, just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

And then I remembered that I was writing a letter to Ruby, my friend, and all I needed to do was patch a few words together and open the door between us. Prayer is about connection, and so is letter-writing. It really isn’t a contest; it’s a patchwork of words to express gratitude for someone’s presence in your life.

This made me feel more cheerful.

But my tick bite still itches like the devil.

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