i’m a year away from now

rainbow 1964The man in the gray suit, red tie, walks across the lobby. I can hear his footsteps on the linoleum floor. He’s carrying a plastic grocery sack and sets it on the floor in my office. He’s come to sign some papers. I slide the papers to him. He reaches into the sack and retrieves his reading glasses. Signs the papers, slips the glasses back into the empty bag and leaves.

**
Zoos are hard to visit, my kids and I agree.  We haven’t kept memories of our visits. Except for Will. He remembers the Denver Zoo because of its shy rhinoceros. The massive animal pivoted on his tiny hooves to keep his face hidden as we circled his exhibit.

**

Standard tests in this area of the country measure a person’s grasp of a second language in three tiers. The first level of proficiency is labelled the ‘Polite Language Frequency.”

**

In a poetry workshop, a poem and a poet I don’t remember now.  But this, a comment from another poet, has staying power: The island gets us too far away from the bridge.

**

Our drive home involves a creek and a bridge, a road cutting into the side of a hill, and a horizon speckled with pine trees and mature cottonwoods edging sandstone cliffs.  Sunsets are always horizontal, but tonight the sunset is a long, narrow band of vertical pink. I urge my daughter to take a different route to find a better vista point. But, quickly.

Turn this way, not that way, I say. She complies, but the sunset isn’t going to wait.

“There’s nothing more I can do,” she says. ” We can’t drive to the sky.”

**

Regarding language, most words only have a life expectancy of about 8,000 years. Scientists have studied this and have found a few words that have outlasted 8,000 years—one of which is to give.

**

The year this photo was taken our mother was pregnant with our baby brother. It was also the year men in Montana grew beards. One hundred years earlier, Montana had become a territory of the United States. Our father’s beard was red. He lined us up to take this Easter picture.

Our cousin was wearing the red dress I had wished was mine. My red shoes, she told me recently, were actually hers. I hadn’t remembered that.

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About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit and YB Poetry Journal. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

12 responses to “i’m a year away from now

  1. don’t know how you work your magic, but thank you for continuing thus!

    • redmitten

      mm- i almost kept this one to myself, so thank you for the encouragement.

      • i can see why. this one brings true tears to my eyes, so it must’ve done the same for you. it’s sheer poetic magic.

      • redmitten

        mm- and then i wonder if these things actually do connect, do they leap from and to each other this way for someone other than me? and now, my cousin in the red dress having attended her own irish wake has just recently passed away.

  2. Lovely mosaic of thoughts and memories, Sherry. Red shoes and rhinos and ” The island gets us too far away from the bridge.” What a gorgeous weaving.

  3. oh red shoes, vertical sunsets…….and direction. the rhino circled to keep its face hidden, your daughter protesting a drive to the sky. and the word ‘to give’. let is last another 8000 years (i love learning about this idea of language as a living organism. and why wouldn’t it be so?)

    polite language. when i was learning greek i was told there is ‘kitchen greek’ and ‘bedroom greek’ haha!!

    back to those red shoes……yes. i coveted my shiny cherry mary janes. they came with a metal hook to button and unbutton the stubborn clasp. stubborn and dissensient, like me. (and like you too?)

    • redmitten

      amanda- good to hear from you, by the way. i would so enjoy hearing more about kitchen greek and bedroom greek. oh lala. i am not surprised you had red mary janes. my sister always said red was angry but for me red is warm. ok and yes to the stubborn and dissensientness….when i was deep into the red mary jane period, i named my kitten “category” even though my brothers protested it couldn’t be done.

  4. Mike Harrell

    I find zoos heartbreaking, and that shy rhinoceros, pivoting on its tiny hoofs, conveys that perfectly. Somehow you manage to make these fragments fit together and become greater than the individual parts, or perhaps more accurately, you give your reader the space to do that, which, after all, is far more effective. Good work, Sherry.

    • redmitten

      mike, wonderful to hear from you. i trust your instinct and so i am pleased this reached you. and yes to the space given to the reader to connect and leap. when my kids were younger, my then husband insisted on zoos and now all these years later, i find it fascinating my daughter has no memory of them and my son’s one memory is of that shy rhino. i don’t think the zoos taught my children compassion, but perhaps the zoos revealed to them the need for their compassion to become more active.

  5. What a wonderful sack full of words! Spill them out on the table and they become stunning images…

    “The massive animal pivoted on his tiny hooves to keep his face hidden as we circled his exhibit”.

    Haunting.

    • redmitten

      kerry, thank you! i think each part is like a magnet, seeking another magnet to reveal the pulse within them. i’m hesitant at times to share these essays as i realize there are gaps one must leap, so it is wonderful to encounter those – you! – who leap and connect alongside me.

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