Michelle Ross


This does not mean she thinks her family is perfect, far from it. She knows they are breeding places of disease.
     She keeps her family clean, neat, and in good repair. Removes crumbs from the skin of their necks, dust and litter from their eyes. Leaves nothing in their mouths between meals. She uses boiling water, and plenty of it, to flush their throats. She brings air and sunlight into their dark and dirty places.
     If grime does get lodged in their throat or their stomach, the family member may be governed by a mad instinct to grab anything which subconsciously they think may save their life. A stained person is always a frightened person.
     But the girl knows something of ropes and knots. She fastens their arms, legs, fingers. Pulls tight.
     Skilled at retrieving objects at a reasonable depth from the surface, she ties a rope around her body and ties the other end to some sturdy piece of furniture, such as a stove or refrigerator. She washes her hands thoroughly. Carries a knife in diving. When she finds the speck, she scrapes it into an old tin box. Climbs out by way of the ladder of the spine.
     In some cases, the source of disease may be in their heads. The girl grasps the family member by the eyelashes. Pulls the eyelid free of the ball. She looks for the best in them. Her belief in them may be the very thing they need most.



*collage comprised of words and phrases from Scouting for Girls: Official Handbook of the Girl Scouts, 1925





Sometimes when I'm looking for inspiration, I like to peruse random texts on Project Gutenberg. Initially, I used this old [Girl Scouts handbook] to do some erasures for a class I took with Jessica Roeder. I became obsessed with the handbook after that--with its language, with the values and responsibilities it attempts to instill in its girl readers. The Home Maker section is 50 pages long! The line that really launched this piece comes from the second law of the Girl Scouts: A Girl Scout is Loyal: "This does not mean that she thinks her friends and family and school are perfect; far from it." I love that "far from it."