page 39


He shows me the photo he took with his camera phone: Look! I could have run over these babies.  Good thing I always check my tires before I get in my truck. They were sleeping in the shade of my truck tires!

But what about the mama duck, I ask, was she okay? Alive? Scared for her babies or what?

He says the mom’s okay. He didn’t run over her.

I tease:  But how do you know she was ok? Maybe the almost-fatality gave her a fright. And he says, but ducks don’t get frights.

And  I ask him to send me the photo (shhh, he has no idea I’ve pasted it to this page).From now on, he says, he will be known as Quick Draw for how fast he whipped his phone out to take this picture.  He will think of this as the Camera Phone Conversation and I will think of it as the Ducks Don’t Get Frights Talk.

He and I are friends, yes. But he and I? Our wave lengths don’t match up. (Editor’s sidenote: This is not a complaint.)

In the shade inside my own truck is a book I’ve been toting around. A gift from a good friend. She’s been dying restless anxious for me to finish reading what she considers the best book of the year.  I’m stuck on page 39.

On page 39 the hero dives into a huge wooden water tower with the purpose of finding the leak. Every day he searches a different section of the holding tank until he realizes he should only search along the water level. Because why?  Because that is where corrosion happens — where two unlike objects meet. Wood against water. Solid against liquid. Motion against the non.

I need to read on, yes, and see that he fixes the tower and perhaps he will become a rock star water tower mender after that. I dunno. I’d like to tell my friend I finished the book and give her a reassuring smile, but she might ask how I liked the way it ended.

We like books for the opposite reasons. She likes plot and I like character. She likes mysteries solved and I like magic hiding.  She loves the book for the horses and the angst that haunts the valley.  But I can’t find the horses in the book what with the edge of water  rubbing against oak staves.

I turn to page 39 and am hijacked to some other world. When I come to, I put the book down; gather myself, consider where I am parked. And then I climb out of my truck to check the shadows my tires cast.



About redmitten

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

13 responses to “page 39

  1. Great post, Sherry. Loved the journey, from ducks to page 39 by way of a rusty water tank.

  2. Wonderful picture, wise words.

    • redmitten

      risa, thank you. last year we had a mallard and hen nesting in this same area. we all got to thinking of them as “ours”. then one day, we came to work and saw that they had tried to cross the street at the wrong time. oy. and so we thought that was the end of having ducks at work. so what a neat surprise to see the photo of these litle guys.

      kathleen, i wonder if you were reading the same book, which page would strike you . . . (?!)

  3. Love these ducks. Love these words.

  4. I like the reference to the page number. Struggling to read a book is something I know well. I’ve had my own page 39 for about 3 years. But I can still pick up and remember the plot thus far. I enjoy your posts and their daily vibe.

    • redmitten

      good to hear from you, john. ah! you have your own page 39. (what a great line for some poem some day…!) i think this also carries forward into my life…i get stuck on a page at times. sometimes it is because i get spellbound by all the possibilities i find on that page 39 (like the notion that things corrode at intersections of two unlike mediums), and sometimes because i’m not really ready to read past the page yet.

      it’s good to hear you enjoy the posts. thank you! (blushy face inserted here)

  5. Rose Hunter

    Ducks don’t get frights! Who says?

    Lovely post, ++ gorgeous. “He will think of this as the Camera Phone Conversation and I will think of it as the Ducks Don’t Get Frights Talk” – is ++ perfect ya know for how different people see/remember things etc., but ya know that 🙂 most perfect. + the disparate elements/wave lengths, bringing them together, one thing I love about your poetry. 🙂

    And I just emailed you about page 72! 🙂

  6. Rose Hunter

    I am smiley bedizened.

  7. Rose Hunter

    I am stuck on THIS page. So we can have positive corrosion then? Hmmm….. Kay.

    • redmitten

      rose- yeah! we each have our own stuck pages. i likex12 what you said about having positive corrosion. gesmeckable friction!

  8. wuffda

    I shall forevermore check the shadows that my tires cast.

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