penguin against a rope


We all know Bentley doesn’t read most of the books in our book group, but he doesn’t know we know. He isn’t here tonight when we discuss The People of Forever Are Not Afraid. By show of hands some of us loved it and some of us had otherwise to say about it.

For example what was up with the rental with a bedroom and a half—what was that? It shows up in the latter part of the book. And what about the line that said something about how the more sound was taken from us something something the more we turned into a song? Where did you read that? We pick up our books with the yellow cover and thumb through the pages. One of us finds the line.

The room gleams, two walls are glass, sheeted in 4 x 10 lengths. On the other side of the glass sit two men with laptops balancing on their knees, books stacked on the table between them. The window for our room fades to white when the sun goes down. Green technology, energy star efficient. We can stay here until we decide we are finished. The window stays white until sunrise and then you can look through it again.

“I didn’t actually finish the book.”  Someone admits to this.

“How far did you get?”  someone else asks.

“Page 55.”

We turn to page 55 and nod our heads: This happens.


What also happens is the way the soundtrack at the gyros shop is only 25 seconds long. At the peak of the singer’s soar, just as he is declaring undying love to someone named Adonia, the music stops. You can imagine easily the scratch of a record skipping, someone crossing a room to reset the needle. Five seconds and then the song begins again.

“Maybe the shop could only afford the free sample to this song.” My daughter gestures with one hand, the other is busy with a gyros because once you pick one up, you cannot set it down just so you can use both hands to talk.  Cucumber dressing dripping, tomato pitching forward. If you are going to eat it, you better bite in now.

So we do the math. Soundtrack plus delay equals thirty seconds. That is two pieces of the song every minute. Okay, so we’ve been here thirty minutes so we’ve listened to this sixty times. We agree we won’t leave until management finds a different song.


I want to buy old cigar boxes, but the cigar shop next to Bottles and Shots is closed. A bold blue sign on the outside of the door warns, “These doors must remain unlocked during business hours.”

Another sign says the store opens at 9:00 A.M. It is 8:49 A.M, but he doesn’t want to wait and so he takes me home. We’ll get the boxes another time, he says. Then he drives away.

Front door unlocked, happy dogs to greet me. I fill their water bowl and start a load of laundry. In this way ten minutes pass. His car returns. The cigar shop is open now, he says.


Why a penguin against a rope: this.


About redmitten

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

10 responses to “penguin against a rope

  1. Most of the time, it really is all a mystery. I want to look at pleasing, beautiful things and deepen the trench of my thoughts so they can flow unimpeded to somewhere – observation, conclusion, empathy with the unseen. I really think I have come from another place. I hope you got exactly the cigar boxes you wanted. I love cigar boxes. xo

    • redmitten

      such a stirring comment, marylinn: “i really think i have come from another place.” me, too. the cigar boxes- well, they are not what i was looking for but have learned to accept what comes along instead. xo s

  2. Did you fall on your face when you finally made it over the rope is what I want to know. And were you carrying the cigar boxes? And was a new song playing by then? And how do you DO half a bedroom? That must be where the penguins sleep.

    • redmitten

      laurie, i am the penguin that doesn’t understand rope, or the getting across it. others see a system in the world, but i miss the obvious. the half a bedroom thing, that was the eeriest part in the book. once you know what it was used for, you will never be the same….

  3. Thanks, Sherry, for all the smiles from the penguins (and seals)! Hope you’re starting to see signs of spring. XOXO Karla

    • redmitten

      karla, well spring doesn’t happen in montana. by the time we can trust it is spring, we are deep into summer. we are still watching the snow forecasts up here! xo back at ya.

  4. Oh God, it’s me!! (The penguin.) The seal, oddly, not so funny…. On my Kindle app, I’ve started marking the place where I abandoned a book. Lit was abandoned on page 80. I’m going to go back to it now, and see, what was it about page 80. Or? …

    • redmitten

      we are of the penguins. there’s a rope. there is still a rope. oh look there is a rope. and page 80, well when i hit page 80 and stop it is usually because i was interested in a different tune at the time. i gave away my copy of the book to someone who was hoping it had the very tune she needed in it. waiting to hear back what became of that want….

  5. “tomato pitching forward” You do have a way with words and images. I’m stunned.

    And the penguins…the thing is, they look so dignified until they don’t.

    • redmitten

      nancy, good to hear from you. such a warm compliment, thank you! the penguins, yes…dignified until not. and then, redignified again.

and then you said:

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

You are commenting using your 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: