Who cleans the wax out of your ears? My mom used to. She would make me lie next to her on the couch, head in her lap, one ear facing up, while she used the head of a safety pin to scrape the inside walls of my ear. Then she would pull out the pin with its clump of yellowish goo and drag it across the top of my hand, leaving the small spot of wax to rest there, intact.
She would repeat this until my hand hosted a constellation of little clumps. Then it was time for my next ear. In the end, we had visual proof of how much she had taken out. It satisfied us both, the whole process. It is one of the greatest forms of intimacy I have ever known, and every time I do what I know doctors have been telling us not to do for eons, every time I stick something like a pin or a bobby pin or a q-tip in my ear I feel the absence of my mother, the absolute safety of having someone else in charge.
- Caroline Allen has been a lecturer at the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara for over 25 years. Her work has appeared in Solo Novo, Lumina, Mary, Spectrum, Into the Teeth of the Wind, and The Santa Barbara Independent, among others. She has work forthcoming in Juxtaprose and Forge. She is also a painter. Her website is carolineallenstudio.com.