The book, the one where I learn about the Castrati, where the rat of my mind starts turning, sits on the highest shelf where I wait for my mother’s cataract surgery, the blue book with the gold leaf – Cry to Heaven – but spiders castrate, too, males dragging off their sexual organs half or in whole, and scientists study it like ants might study the toenails of gods while my father asks how long the surgery will take and I stroke the well-loved spine and think how it reminds me of reindeer eyes – the dayless dark of the Arctic winter turning them from gold to blue – The tapetum lucidum is blue, I read, researching my mother’s eyes, because reindeer get glaucoma, too, in winter, whereas the eyeshine of most mammals is always gold like when my mother’s eyes began failing, so that she’d see three moons moaning down at her where I saw one, and my professor pulled out a poor stuffed rat of a thing and pronounced, The flying squirrel. Call it glaucomys on tests – Latin for silver mouse, and I wonder if flying squirrels get glaucoma and flew towards three moons, or if glaucoma is a silver disease, or if, like the pages in an old book, their memories are tied together by little stubborn strings that we can’t see. My mother comes out of surgery like nothing had ever happened.
Maia Carlson is a Canadian transplant living in Kansas, whose Bachelors degree in biology somehow led to a Masters in English in 2018. Her interest in poetry is recent, although she’s now published in Rogue Agent, Touchstone, the Burmingham Poetry Review, and a few others. As an asexual-aromantic poet, she enjoys exploring atypical forms of connection in her poetry, all while interweaving her past studies in biology. She now teaches persuasive writing to college students at Kansas State University as a term instructor.