when rain puts the river out of shape


This is where we end up—at a window table with our notebooks. The morning after the evening when her purse was stolen, I picked her up at seven. I had a notebook filled with reminders and notations and she had one, too. But her notes were color-coordinated. Orange for stolen credit cards. Green for stolen keys. Blue for steps required to replace her driver’s license, her social security card. And so on.

I love the way she moves through life. Even in a crisis she color-codes the chaos.

My poetry-writerly-notebook now has hastily written phone numbers to the police, to the security offices on campus, to the bankers who are helping shut down bank accounts. But in the same notebook are other notes from this past year because they help get me through . . .what?

What happens when the river overflows its bank? The river washes away.

Up until 1946 it was still legal to buy a mummy. I ask myself, I ask my daughter—why do I carry around notes like that? Is it genetic, she asks back? She flips first through my notes and then through her new notebook. Maybe she envisions the day when her notebook collects interesting eavesdrops: He’s not afraid to take a hammer to your car. But know this: you’ll have to accept whatever happens.

When the waitress takes our order, we nod at each other. Of course we both order Mac and Cheese. Comfort food is called for after spending a night chasing after criminals. Today is not the day for a healthy salad, huh. We are at once starved and unable to eat. But I am thankful to be with her today, to help her replace what can be replaced. And to examine the list of what cannot be replaced. Written in red ink.

Are you ready for a turquoise hat? This line written above the policeman’s direct phone number will one day make her laugh.




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

18 responses to “when rain puts the river out of shape

  1. Oh, my, sorry for the stress here, and I hope this all sorts itself out well and soon. And oh, yes, I do love the notes!

    • redmitten

      thank you for such kind words. i hope it sorts out soon, too. the thing is- she was set up and monitored by these thieves in a closely controlled access location. but it could have been far worse, and people all over deal with far worse. but still. and lucky for us we have notebooks filled with random notes. 😉

  2. Wonderful post. I don’t know of anybody who captures life better than you. This is my fix for the day. Best Neil

    • redmitten

      ah + wow, thank you.

      there is a horse handler here who says- be gentle in what you choose to do, but be firm in how you do it. once i heard him say this (regarding training difficult horses), i thought- oh yeah, how many ways can we pair gentle and firm together? it can be a bit like pairing a policeman’s phone number with a random quote about a hat. stop me before i quit making any sense . . .

  3. oh My — that is scary. And I won’t pretend that I *get* poetry or random notes (although I *do* understand collecting information into a gigantic web that I can analyze from the center – perhaps it’s the same)

    but i hope everything works out ok.

    • redmitten

      katy- good to hear from you. i like what you said about analyzing from the center. it is much the same. and the way that you see things in your finds is very much what happens in poetry (just with words). you create with different tools and your point of view cheers me on.

  4. Rose Hunter

    I love this post. Forgot what I was going to say, distracted by your horse handler’s comment above. So true! And how do people live without notebooks…? I do love the color-coded chaos with the B&W pic. I hope things are getting sorted out. Send my best. 🙂

    • redmitten

      oh wow, i didn’t think of that: the b&w contrasting with the color-coded chaos. see, you always show me another view. and like even tomorrow when i head to the sheep farm to help shear sheep- i’m taking one of my notebooks. never know when a sheep shearer will say something liftable. 🙂

      • Rose Hunter

        I think the odds are high!

      • redmitten

        i’ll have to figure out a sly way to scurry off and write the lines down in between each shearing or else i’ll be booted from the farm and then where would i be?

  5. Perhaps I am using my notebooks (and my sticky notes) for all the wrong purposes…

  6. love! in every color, love! love love

  7. Sherry — To answer the question: I already own a turquoise hat and am ready for the purple shoes to wear with it! 🙂

  8. wuffda

    I own neither a turquoise hat, nor purple shoes, but I do own a sparkly pink octopus pin with green eyes. May I join the party?

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