looking upwards underwater


What my sister is doing with the wool: shrinking it. It feels better, she says, to work with wool you’ve felted with your own hot water.

I was digging carrots from the ground. The rain we never get in September was falling and making lovely sounds on my hood. Twenty miles south, my sister was outside on her porch taking photos of red wool turned raspberry from three hot water soaks. She draped a sleeve of the original red wool jacket on a white step stool before placing the felted piece of deep raspberry on top.

The difference between change and transition is what?

When my iPhone vibrated in my pocket with the emailed photo she had sent, I knew it’d be my sister sending photos; I didn’t know, though, she’d start with my color red.


In Brooklyn, a man has been building a small library, the Reanimation Library, which houses a collection of old books which have fallen out of circulation. The matter inside each of these books is outdated, but artists of all sorts are drawn to these books.

” If you want to learn anything, start with out-of-date science. . . . The more you know how much we’ve gotten wrong in the past, how habitually we err, how fundamental our prejudices towards things we don’t understand are, the more likely you’ll treat your surroundings with humility.” – Colin Dickey


A friend sends me a photo of an interactive art panel hanging in her house. There are eight panels that don’t seem to go together and you can slide each of the eight pieces to a different position. Depending on which piece is placed next to the piece you like best, the piece you like best changes to your least.

Dreams. She asks me what mine are.

I’m not good at going there, I tell her. I don’t believe in talk about tomorrow, but I do believe in forever.

I think she’s about to tell me it will take a poet to understand that.


“The problem as you get older is that you become more self-aware. At the same time you have to surprise yourself. There’s no way of arranging the surprise, so it’s tricky.  You’re either obsessed or you’re surprised. There’s no halfway house.” -Seamus Heaney


Last spring new neighbors moved into the property bordering my parents’ back fence. Against the fence grows the plum tree my parents planted when they first moved there, shortly after my father retired. In the many years since, my parents measure each year by their plum harvest. How many pickers, how many days picked, how many jars of jelly.

This year the new neighbors approached my father to inform him the tree was infringing on their property rights.  The largest branch hung over the neighbor’s yard. They intended to build a shed right there and wanted that plum tree cut down. My parents pleaded for one more harvest; could the neighbors wait until fall?

To be honest with you, I didn’t want to ask what happened. I didn’t want to hear what would become of these plums. I was sure I knew.  Last night my mother emailed to ask if I would want some plum jelly. Three hundred and thirty-five pounds of plums. A record season because this was the first year the far side of the tree could be picked. The neighbors chose picking plums over building a tool shed.


And what is empty turns its face to us
and whispers:
“I am not empty, I am open.”       -Tomas Tranströmer






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 “looking upwards underwater

  1. How impossible it seems, with what we do know that we know so little. I am glad they chose plums. xo

    • redmitten

      and i think sometimes we almost don’t want to know anything more because the choices become more challenging. so i am glad the neighbors came closer to the fence and realized what limbs these were they were wanting to tear down.

  2. Katy

    There is always room for tools and plums. Why force one out for the other? I’m so relieved! How was the jelly?

    • redmitten

      katy- the jelly is so great we almost don’t eat it because we don’t want to run out. and so of course, if we DON’T eat it, it is as if we did run out. argh….to be so irish sometimes makes living more difficult than it needs to be!

  3. wuffda

    I feel a great and solemn sadness for the plum tree. Like a friend I know will pass away soon….

  4. I was so relieved to hear the plum tree made it! That and I loved the shadings between dreaming about tomorrow and belief in forever and the ending on Transtromer. One of your best, I think.

  5. The difference between tomorrow and forever – yes. And plums and carrots, what’s that?! And the difference between change and transition, I am trying to work it out now, as my new next-door (next-room) neighbor sings, wildly out of tune. 🙂
    What a lovely post.

  6. Beautiful. Beautiful. Everything you write, print, publish is beautiful.

  7. “Looking upwards under water”…..what’s in a title? …..Lots

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