the peppermint bottle



Chaim speaks to Itsik.  He thinks Itsik needs to be reminded: You have already within you all the knowledge for living.  It’s only a matter of unlocking it.


Somewhere Back East in a famous art gallery stands a security guard who is watching us take in The Peppermint Bottle by Cezanne.  We ask him how it goes.  His room assignment changes periodically so he gets to see different art. What would that be like we wonder. He says:  Sometimes the art’s not so good and the people are better.


The floorboards creak when we take the stairs to the basement of a museum based on living Out West. We have the museum to ourselves. It seems everyone here has already heard the stories, felt the beaver pelts,  and have no need to visit the museum again. We crawl into a teepee display, push a button and listen to Pretty Weasel Yellow Elk’s voice talk about the past and how new boarding schools and missions took the children in. I was told I wasn’t Indian anymore.


Think of me, he whispers to his wife. They are standing in front of a watercolor hanging on the second floor of our local art museum. Downstairs and around the corner is the original entrance to our County Jail, turned lately into our County Museum. I am the beige kayak you never notice on the water. I could be in this very painting and not even know.


I return to my home. My son and daughter are preparing dinner. We take skewers and build our own kabobs. Chicken marinated in raspberry vinegarette, orange peppers, baby red potatoes, juicy pineapple, red onions.

I listen to them chatter and admit I like to take lines out of context. This won’t be the first time they’ve forgiven me for adding their words in here.  Everyone should have a name, my daughter says in earnest, spearing three peppers to every two red potatoes. My son stacks a 2:1 ratio of chicken to pineapple and  reminds us, All water is old.



About redmitten

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

12 responses to “the peppermint bottle

  1. Pondering so much now, including the ratio on my kabob.

    • redmitten

      kathleen- and yes, the ratio on your kabob. shish kabob. my kids had a great talk about which is the verb- do we shish? or do we kabob? not until you kabob your own kabob do you perhaps realize yours is a ratio unique onto you. yeah1

  2. Glad to follow the breadcrumbs over here…now to figure out the commenting. I have been absent to long and need to catch up. I am the beige kayak. This new place feels comfortable to me, I hope it does to you. Mmmm, I like my new icon.

    • redmitten

      marylinn- glad you came! you are the beige kayak…and finding that you are in many a watercolor. i’m liking it here, too, except i’d like easier ways to know when other blogs(like yours) update. i’m working on that…

  3. have followed the trail to your new homestead…..sorry to hear of your troubles with blogger~

  4. John

    Love the security guard.

  5. hi, Sherry. I just saw this piece in BluePrint Review and love it. And here too. I think the idea of all water being old is poetic and beautiful. The way it cycles from sky through snow and rain to earth and lingers in glaciers and rises in ocean tides and flows in rivers and stands in lakes and puddles. Then can be absorbed by plants and used to hold the herbaceous ones up, serving as hydraulic fluid. How water forms our blood and tears and boils in our cooking pots, make life possible. And it washes us and soothes us. Then evaporates back to sky phase, over and over turning through this ancient cycle.

    Also beautiful is something you may already know of, that not all water is old. We make new water in our bodies every day, as do other organisms.

    So we are not only a part of this cycle, we also contribute to it. Which, I think, is poetic, too. – steve

    • redmitten

      hi steve- everything you wrote has me nodding my head. yes. yes. as we are a part of, and as we contribute- the “be” and the “do” verbs become one. good to hear from you.

  6. Just read this at BPR – lovely work. Here’s to all the beige kayaks

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