I heard the ice cream truck ring its bell as it rolled through our suburban Ohio neighborhood where bunnies nested in holes in the backyard. I was always worried that they would get caught in the lawn mower. We lived in a bungalow on a quiet street and after we moved in I dug through unpacked boxes in the basement looking for something I wanted. A doll, a toy? I don’t know. The basement was full of family photographs, books, toys when the basement flooded in a hard rain. My mother didn’t punish me but she always said I was much harder to manage than my brother and sister. I had a feral streak and that day when the ice cream truck passed by I ran out of the house, straight into a big sedan driving down the street. I bounced off the side right by the front wheel. My mother saw it go down and she called me back into the house. She had me sit in an armchair in the living room. She called it the “thinking chair.” I sat there for a long time but I didn’t think.
Karol Nielsen is the author of the memoirs Black Elephants (Bison Books, 2011) and Walking A&P (Mascot Books, 2018) and the chapbooks This Woman I Thought I’d Be (Finishing Line Press, 2012) and Vietnam Made Me Who I Am (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Her first memoir was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in nonfiction in 2012. Her full poetry collection was longlisted for the Terry J. Cox Poetry Award in 2021 and was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry in 2007. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Guernica, Lumina, North Dakota Quarterly, Permafrost, RiverSedge, and elsewhere.