>between one and two


These are Nadine’s photos. We’ve known each other since we were six. The way she participates with nature sparks me. One thing leads to another everytime I listen to her speak or read her letters or when she shares her artwork with me.
Halfway across the country from her forest  lives a man who built his own bridge. He lives in an isolated setting, which works for him — except for when it doesn’t. A few years ago he told me about being six years old and how he had wondered what came between one and two. When he asked his first grade teacher, she told him there was nothing between the two numbers. From that point on he set out to prove her wrong.
Like Nadine, he examines life for more layers. One moment there are barren cliffs and the next moment there are cliff swallows- they’ve been building a nest the entire time we’ve been preoccupied with . . .what, exactly?

Between My Back Porch and Sheffield’s Pond

On our daily walk, we find a snow goose egg
that wasn’t there before.

Wings beat the sunset on still water,

beaks tear at grass. Antelope settle
beneath the Russian Olives.
I teach my daughter about the sandpiper,
how it leads us from its nest. She shows me

how to fill pockets with pebbles from the shore,
right before she falls in. One moment

she is sinking; in the next, she can swim.

A pelican blends his brown body into the cut

bank dirt nearby, both he and my son

never blinked, never doubted
she would survive. If you let all your air out,
my son tells me, and then dive to the bottom

of the pond you can stay there, spread eagle,
without floating to the top. He has my
hazel eyes. I wish mine had his sparkle
as he tells me all it takes is knowing
you can surface when you want.

My friend in Michigan built a bridge

across a backyard creek that he can jump.

He admits in midnight mail,the older
we get, the harder it is to leap.
Poem was previously published in Tonopah Review.  I am hoping Nadine will stop by and tell us her story of how she happened across these eggs.

About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

8 responses to “>between one and two

  1. >I love the poem, and the photographs, and the concept of the vastness between one and two, and your friend who set out to prove it. The idea of your daughter, not swimming, and then she can swim; and your son, knowing he can surface when he wants to- these are wonderful images and ideas.

  2. >The pup and I had stopped to explore an island of trees surrounded by a sea of green meadow. I have passed by the knob a hundred times or more, always wondering how that island might be different than the forests that surround the meadow, and thinking that I should go there one day. On this day, I stopped thinking and went to see. The nest was on the path to seeing, across the big creek and at the edge of a small stream. The spotted sandpiper flushed from near our feet. She flopped down a few feet from the nest, soon stumbling off through the meadow, wailing, “Oh come follow me!” I resisted long enough to snap a photo of the nest, and then the pup, totally entranced by the al-luring bird, tugged me along on the leash.

  3. penjandrum

    >Much flows between one and two; a bridge might be perfect. He's right – it is harder to leap. The known even if it does not feel right, is easier than the fear of the unknown.I love the photos and the poem too.Penny

  4. >Oh yes…there's ALWAYS something between one and two. That teacher should know that life is not that simple! What a lovely 'soft' poem.

  5. >Lessons, many of them, with no excess. From your gentle poem, what I choose to hold is, "…all it takes is knowing…" whatever IT is. The world I prefer to inhabit has volumes about what may be found between one and two. And, perhaps it is me or a peculiar aspect of the planets, but in some ways (not physically) leaping has become easier; something has opened – or built a bridge – and awareness feels more spontaneous, distant concepts not so unreachable. We do grow wiser, even if only in understanding our foolishness.

  6. >Fascinating…the day you posted this I was presenting a craft to children in a park. We were seated at picnic tables under an enormous gazebo-like structure. I was looking up at the wooden beams and spied a mud nest with (what else?)…swallows.

  7. >I never knew mud could be so beautiful. Lovely writing in your prose and poem. Sometimes we want to be so close to nature that we wish there was nothing in the between spaces, and other times we want to fill it with possibility.

  8. >hi annie,thanks! i see such an ease in my son's faith in life and am reminded of my own ease . . . i do notice at times in my adult life it has been on and off again harder to have that ease. photos such as nadine's bring that ease and trust back into my life.hi nadine! i love when you show up here! when you stop thinking, amazing art happens. i've noticed this about you for years. i remember very clearly exploring the hills at ryan with you when we were in grade school. we came across a dead rabbit. at first i saw horror, but you saw a sort of beauty that was meant to be examined. that wasn't the first time your vision opened the world for me. thanks for allowing me to share your photos in here. i'm trying to not be greedy with your work!hi penny,in the past six or so years, i've forced myself more and more to leap to that other side, the unknown side. i admit, there are times i wish for a bridge where i could take my time moving from the known to the unknown.hi kerry,it's rather disappointing, isn't it, to encounter a teacher who shuts a mind down like that. fortunately for my friend, it taught him the opposite of what she was teaching. he had to think for himself and embrace all that is between one and two. hi marylinn,oh i got wonderful chills reading your words: awareness feels more spontaneous. yes. now that i've learned so much about my own foolishness, i often have this sort of hunger for the open world.hi rox,this does not surprise me about you… i cannot count the times anymore when you've said something that fit into my own words for that day or vice versa. and then there are all these things you say that inspire my poetry. you are tuned to a certain channel and i am not sure how much you realize the way you connect to it . . .?hi kass,oh yeah. for fear of ruining what you just said about wishing nothing was in between the spaces, i will hush and enjoy considering what you wrote.

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