one false move & you’ve bought a horse

Turns out I am drawn to places to which I am not a member.  Part of me wants to experience almost anything, but when the other part tags along and finds out these places come with rules and one community fireplace, both parts of me step back.

I don’t know how to warm my hands at a such a fire.

And how would it have been had I raised my Yes Hand for the swoonable cowboy who showed me his prize saddle way back in the day? The barn and the fields, knowing what the crow means when it caws: all that would define my life now, if only . . .

But so far most of what I’ve said and done has involved my No Hand.

What I think I know for sure is how to tell a story. It’s easy: stand outside the fire’s reach and watch what others do.  Get too involved, you lose the story. Stay back—maybe in the highest reaches of the auction house or the mountain with its forests—and the story will find you and keep you company for a little bit before you get a chance to ask:  Which hand is the false one.


About redmitten

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

18 responses to “one false move & you’ve bought a horse

  1. Oh, my, I LOVE this. What a poem there is in here. And about that swoonable cowboy the Yes hand didn’t bid for? Mine did. Then the No hand signed divorce papers after two kids and he’s back at the ranch in So Dak with an internet wife, new family AND the horse. Both my hands and the first two kids are stuck in Oklahoma. I’ve avoided auctions ever since.

  2. Katy

    I really like this. I need that on a pendent. “one False move and you’ve bought a horse”

    ANd that horse is named Roll Me a Fat One!

    hahaha. connections. I’m starting to see them…

    • redmitten

      katy- i am way behind! glad you liked this and i am now thinking of what your next pendant will look like with those words! we could both wear one like that!

  3. Love it. Thinking about the saddle. And standing back.

  4. Maureen Kingston

    Ah, the standing back. Love the auction. Lots of distances and perspectives there. I hope I’ve figured this comment dealie out. Geode just arrived. Can’t wait to read it.

    • redmitten

      maureen- i am late to replying. i am so drawn to that auction, though i shake in my boots when i am there. so honored you bought my book! thank you! hope you like it.

  5. So simple, so true. Stand back for the story. Yehaw, cowgirl!

  6. oh goddess sherry ——— do i frickin relate. as groucho marx said – i don’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member (or some horrible variation on a theme)

    stay back and let the story find you…..yes, this requires a chunk of faith but i’m with you — No Hand. Rather warm my palms at another fire.

    • redmitten

      amanda- that is exactly it for me….the groucho marx quote. life is so contrary…what i want is also something i cannot tolerate. sheesh!

  7. “I don’t know how to warm my hands at a such a fire.” I have that very same problem. Standing back more often feels right. After all, the No and Yes Hands can be easily burned. You do, you do indeed!, Sherry, know how to tell a story. 🙂

  8. No matter where you stand, you and the story always find each other. On a cafe breakfast plate, often in or beside a river. We don’t all have the same assignment. Some have been chosen to tell the tale. But I don’t know that you would make a wrong choice. Stories may be told from the inside, too. xo

  9. Rose Hunter

    Yeah, baby! (re the title.)
    Do we need that false move? Get too involved and you lose the story, but do you then become the story?And is that worth more, sometimes…? That swoonable cowboy. … I.e. should I get on a plane to Taos? Probably not, but wouldn’t it be interesting….
    I hijack your post for my own purposes. Heh.

    • redmitten

      rose- oh wow! we could then become the story, and you know what i second that and then raise you this: by what we choose to write, by which stair we choose to stand on, which horse we can’t watch in the ring- we are also telling our own story. and yes to plane and taos- because that is a yes to life and the creation of! and hijack me please every day!

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