>notice

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When I started taking photos, I was surprised at what I hadn’t noticed before.
Between where I live and where I grew up, we have this attitude about there being nothing to see.We’ve made this trip so many times, we’ve seen whatever there is to see. 
I showed these photos to everyone who has made this road trip over and over and over. (Two hundred and twenty-one miles with two gas stations and four junctions.)
No one knew where any of these shots came from.
(Disclaimer: All these shots were on the go, through the window of a speeding vehicle.)
When we become involved in our surroundings, we realize there is more to be seen. More to consider. This happened to me when I started to write poetry a few years ago.  Now, when my ability to write poetry starts to falter I realize the reverse is true — I’ve stopped participating with my surroundings.
A few years ago I accepted a (third, weekend) job to help my kids with college tuition. The job placed me in ranch supply stores where I taught potential customers about the science behind pet food nutrition. At first I was so caught up in enzymes, ash content and labelling laws that I didn’t realize why so many customers were in the store and what their true needs were. They didn’t need to hear me talk about the benefits of animal proteins and calcium ratios. Although I no longer have this job anymore, I cannot walk into any of these stores without seeing the customers differently.
Behind the Scenes of a Holistic Nutrition Demo
The man in last week’s flannel shirt sits his Aussie
near the hamster cage, steps outside for a smoke. Too poor,

I wonder, to buy the holistic nutrition I’m selling. Still,
we visit when he returns- his dog never breaking
point. Turns out he wrote the book I wish I could write,
lives with fame many others pray for.

I’ve seen blue eyes like his before- diluted
from living above the timber line, not enough light
in winter. It’s been seven years since his wife died,
her dog has not recovered. He drives down from his mountain
ranch each Sunday so Dixie can guard the Petko hamster cage.
There’s no more sheep left in their fields. Why bother,
is the message he writes in the book he leaves for me

at the counter. The trench coat lady in the rows
of cat food needs me to reach a bag of Meow Mix.
She can’t even lift five pounds, though she’s lost
one hundred and fifty in twelve months. Now
her stomach skin reaches to her knees, weighs
her down. She opens her coat to reveal the reason
she says she’d sooner die than live anymore like this.
But what would happen to Felix, she asks? We lock eyes
in aisle five. She says mine are warm and hazel. I tell her
hers are calico. She says it hurts to laugh anymore.
Please don’t make her try.

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About redmitten

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

7 responses to “>notice

  1. verylikeawhale

    >"I’ve seen blue eyes like his before- diluted from living above the timber line, not enough light in winter." These lines and the calico eyes are my favorite. Lovely piece, Sherry.

  2. >Hi Sherry, Coincidentally, I read this poem late last night before I went to bed. I ordered Making Good Use of August, and it arrived in yesterday's mail! This poem is among my favorites. I woke up this morning with the vision of the trench coat lady and her stomach skin hanging down to her knees, when I'd much rather have woken up to the man with the blue eyes, wrote the book you wish you could write… Powerful images in all of your poems! This poem brings into focus, as you say, the real story for each person. That happens with me in the library sometimes; the reason behind what a person asks for in the way of a book, can be very different from the expected or the ordinary, and there can be warmth and emotion in that simple interaction.

  3. >This is a moving piece. I reminds me that we will always have much to learn from and about each other. I found enormous humanity here, intelligence and empathy. My wish for us all, that we are closer than we know to the books we hope to write.

  4. >I would like to read the book you wish you could write…must be one helluva book!

  5. >I have never before seen a picture of the spot where a shooting star fell to the ground. Did you find it, or was it already gone?

  6. >Your blog restores me again, Sherry! Thank u!

  7. >nic,so good to hear from you about those lines. thanks for reading and commenting!annie,oh wow i am touched that you ordered and are reading my book. thank you. you made me laugh about waking to the image of the lady and not the blue-eyed man. by the way, the poem was written a couple years ago and as of about six months ago, no one has seen him on sundays anymore. your work is rich with humanity. imagine, so many lives intersecting right before your eyes.marylinn,what a stirring wish. your words mean a lot to me. thank you!rox,the book comes to me when i am almost awake. but i can't seem to get my mind entirely wrapped around it. it was already gone by the time i got there. i saw it shoot. i watched it fall. i listened for some sort of sound. like a lit match plunged into a water bucket. extinguish — what a sorrowful word.rose,oh m'dear, thank you. you know what? as does hearing from you.

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