losing your ten-pound motion

I know now a story is a container of knowledge. Without realizing, we tell stories as a way to find ourselves. To find our place. Where within this world do I belong? What part of this world knows me?

There is not one spot that is right. That’s Frankie talking outside my office door. He’s pointing to the newly waxed linoleum floor in the lobby. See this area by the potted plant? The liquid wax ran and never got wiped up. See this edging by the column? Looks like the floorist spilled his bucket.


Under a Christmas tree three hours north of here was a gift of photography waiting for me: Annie Leibovitz’s Pilgramage.

You can get lost in the subject of Lincoln, Leibovitz writes. The pages in this book are thick and substantial, and her thoughts allow for many detours. The longer she pursues a shot of Lincoln’s actual cabin, the more she begins to realize perhaps all the cabins where Lincoln once lived are theoretical. And this I understand. On the way to living out your life, you can easily remain an unrecorded woman.

And so what do we do? We work at recording ourselves. Whether or not we write words on a page, or capture them on film or inside a painting, we create a story we will live inside. It’s a risk, or maybe it is a balance. Some stories can be too much and we end up living most fully not in life but on the page.


Time spent with Frankie takes me back to participating in life rather than just observing it.  Come to each moment as unprepared as you can manage.

Frankie is in the midst of lifting the latest issue of National Geographic from our lobby when I step outside my office to greet him. One arm reaching down, one hand bracing his lower back, Frankie looks up at me and explains: I’ve lost my ten-pound motion.

I know he’s talking about rehabilitating his upper arm strength, but the poet in me kicks in. I don’t know how long I’ve lived without my own ten-pound motion. Is it time to start writing more? Or time to put down the pen keyboard?


Comes a Facebook photo on a cousin’s page. He’s filming in Key West.

Eleven miles off the coast, Hemingway would come to an anchored structure according to the best rumors to relocate and write. The shack survived how many hurricanes and foul weather, but didn’t survive the lit match from drunken teenagers. These four stilts mark a spot where Hemingway once stepped inside his stories.

(Thank you,  Andy George,  for the stirring photo!)


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

13 responses to “losing your ten-pound motion

  1. the Artist’s dilemma: to live it or describe it?

    gorgeous shot of hemingway’s bungalow (not sure i believe it, but your telling it makes it true.).

    an unrecorded woman in the midst of building with lincoln logs

  2. Your best ever, Sherry. Now I’m off to find another of my stories! Brava!

  3. “we create a story we will live inside”

  4. oh wow. i don’t know where to start. so the act and product of writing is both a movement and a container…….sort of like how light is both a particle and a wave.

    our stories live on……they will be what survives us better than cabins, than offshore huts. this should bring great peace to all of us unrecorded humans who try to put down our inner lives on paper. i love that spindly shot of hemingway’s lair. so sad, yet in a strange way appropriate that is is now torched and clawing the sky like an antediluvian spider. you cannot find him there, but yet he lives on in his words.

    • redmitten

      amanda, you are the best at taking what i write and going where i wanted to go with it. the ex’s in my life would be astounded how well you tune in. this means a lot to me, your post, the way you connect. the moment i saw this photograph, something inside me clicked and only as i wrote did i begin to understand what tumblers were lining up. and your post wraps it up so wonderfully.

  5. Rose Hunter

    So much of this speaks to me – hmm, which to comment on…. I think I’ll go with what most leapt out at me this morning: “Come to each moment as unprepared as you can manage.” That can be my credo for today….

    Oh and I love Frankie. 🙂 You can tell him that from me. Also that photo is gorgeous. ‘Kay.

    • redmitten

      rose, i love that unprepared advice as well. in looking back i can see now that this is often how i “arrive” and yet i am always sorta confounded on how it is that i’ve flown clear across the country and shown up with say…two left shoes and no umbrella.

      and yes to the frankie in the lobby! and double yes to andy’s photo!

      • Rose Hunter

        Like the idea too, of managing to be unprepared, being unprepared being something that requires effort to achieve…. I think Frankie may be a Zen master?
        I am good with umbrellas, but bad with socks…. 🙂

  6. love and adore everything here. simply everything. words, images, pictures you paint in my head. everything makes me travel there. one day i might in body. i’m taking those words to school this morning, when i teach Allan Curnow’s Continuum….be as unprepared as possible. love and wishing you pure, sweet poetic inspiration for 2012. x janelle

    • redmitten

      j- i love hearing from you. i think we both travel without our bodies- i sense that in your posts and love what happens to me when i read you. i now have allan curnow on my list of “travels”. i wish you pure journeys this year, too!

and then you said:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 51 other followers

%d bloggers like this: