A Series of Aphorisms

by Martha Andrews Donovan


Photograph by Martha Andrews Donovan
Photograph by Martha Andrews Donovan



Do not walk past remarkable things with absolute oblivion: a rusted hand pump

wedged in the embrace of a tree, a snake’s skin, keeled-scaled, floating in a sea

of grass, an old wooden spool with a fragment of thread, a mussel shell, loosely-hinged,




There are many ways to be lonely and there are many ways to be free—follow

the sea, the rushes of the salt marsh, the curve of a peregrine’s wings.



When fleeing the city of one’s marriage, do not look back.



Think of the sea star—do not overlook the benefit of regeneration.



Shoal or Shola—the only way through is through.



In the striking of hammer and chisel against stone lies all possibilities.



Remember (re-member) the skin, the bones, the once-pulsing life: breathe,




Martha Andrews Donovan, author of the chapbook Dress Her in Silk (Finishing Line Press 2009), is a writer and teacher who lived in New Hampshire for a good many years and recently moved to an island in Maine. Her writing explores the intersections between memory, image, and narrative, and the ways in which the things we unearth—photographs, artifacts, ephemera, and other fragmentary evidence—can help narrate a life. “Loosely-Hinged” is based on a series of aphorisms that first appeared in her blog One Writer’s Excavation: Narrating a Life, Piece by Piece—part notebook, part gallery space, part meanderings, musings, and asides.