>lean rock and cut string


I wasn’t thinking of taking photos when we came across these steps. I had been here so many times over the years I didn’t think I needed to capture them in another photo.These steps are upriver from where I grew up and lead from a giant springs and the shortest river on this continent to a shady grove of white birch and pine. Their memory is ingrained in me. Maybe I am ingrained in their memory (?) Somewhere inside my infrequent weariness is an eight-year-old girl in red P. F. Flyers who knows the count of these stairs.
Nearby, tourists were debating the climb. They’d make the climb if they knew the resulting view was worth it. Others voiced their dismay at the leaning rockwork on the left. What a shame, they said. If someone would fix that lean, the rockwork would be that much more beautiful. My kids turned and smiled at me. They’ve heard me talk enough about the value of a climb — would their mom use the moment to remind them? Instead, I took out my camera phone and snapped this photo.
The seven of us, plus one large dog, climbed back inside our ride. It was beginning to occur to me my focus was changing. Enough talk about process over result, journey over destination. It was time to shift to letting go of what was wrong. Time to enjoy beauty in the flaws. Time to quit thinking:  flaw. 


In the movies I would be scanty,
and slide over to straddle him. But
in reality, dressed in boxers and socks
I scooted until I fit beside him
in our bed rolls laid out by the fire
near the creek we once claimed as ours.

I asked if he were a letter, which he’d be.
A Dear John letter just to feel me
squirm beneath his teasing words,
but then he said M, surprised to feel my body
frown when I wondered how my F could blend
with him. He tipped me on my back to show
how well our letters fit.

I thought about days and how he’d be
a good Wednesday, but he said Tomorrow,
for each surprise and to catch the fish he missed.
Remember, he nudged, how you thread bad days
onto a stringer of yesterdays? Cut the line, he said.

I slid out of my socks and struggled
with his dreaming. He snored while I waited
for the wolf to howl because in the movies
about restarting trust, this is how it happens:
Cue the sound and the credits while the last log settles
into embers and sparks seek starlit skies.
I thought to make one last list: passwords,
past, promise, (prick) and then
I let go and slept.

This poem was originally published at Two Review.
Disclaimer: I am not nearly as old as the shoes suggest, but don’t you think that illustration is all-that?


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

12 responses to “>lean rock and cut string

  1. >Beautiful photo. Astounding really. From a phone camera?!!Your Stringer poem is one of your best. So surprising at every turn.My dad had a pair of those shoes. They're probably still over at Mom's house.

  2. >My mom keeps her stringers tied tightly to the boat. All of mine drift away….

  3. penjandrum

    >Lovely photo, and the steps (with flaw) look so inviting.This poem is so good; deep currents there to think about. Cutting the line and letting go is so liberating.Penny

  4. >PF Flyers made you run faster. It was scientific.

  5. >Hello Sherry,Oh I am always thrilled to meet a poet, even if only virtually. I have enjoyed my visit, and I appreciate you coming over to my blog!Thanks.

  6. >The curve, the shadow, and the lean. All working in counterpoint to create a deeper beauty one can't accurately call "flawed." "Irregular," maybe, and it that, surprise and wonderment.

  7. >"There is no beauty that has not some strangeness in its proportion."–Francis Bacon

  8. >In the first post I meant to write, "IN that, surprise and wonderment." Oy.

  9. >A line from an Ani De Franco song goes like this…"there is beauty in the differences between us." I LIKE the bend in the stonework. It gives it a past. Reminds me of the Motherland.

  10. >As they tell us there is order in chaos, I believe there is symmetry in misalignment. We find balance where others may see imperfection. For me, a poem and post of dawning awareness and the best we can hope for is that it continues to dawn. If we don't make the climb, how will we ever know?

  11. >kass,yes, can you believe it – a camera phone. when they first came out i thought i'd never use one but now, it's been so handy to have a camera with me all the time.rox rox rox, what am i gonna do with you?penny,yes, cutting the line has been liberating. funny thing, though, sometimes i acquire another stringer and need to remind myself to cut the line again.john,it still is scientific. the rubber on the soles also protected me from lightning strikes which is why i sometimes wore them to bed.karine,hey, good to hear from you. i hope others will find your blog as interesting as i found it. thanks for stopping by.mike mike and mike,your post is poetry. surprise and discovery pair up quite well. love that quote (!)kerry,oh, great quote as well. and i have to say i *heart* hearing the term Motherland. big grin here.marylinn,i've been considering the notion "continue to dawn" since i read your post. so many layers to explore, so many possibilities to discover, yes.

  12. >I love the whole poem, especially the opening and closing stanzas, and these lines:"Remember, he nudged, how you thread bad days onto a stringer of yesterdays? Cut the line, he said." The wall's "imperfection" is the shift of time- it makes it interesting.

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