june 7/RUN

4.3 miles
minnehaha falls and back
68 degrees

A few degrees cooler this morning, but still warm.

I’m listening to a very (too?) long audio book right now and I’m trying to finish it before it’s due back at the library in 7 days — The Covenant of Water, 31 hours. I decided to listen to it for the first half of my run. Sometimes I like listening to audio books while I run, not so much today. My mind kept wandering and I had trouble paying attention to the story. Plus, because I had headphones on, I felt disconnected from the gorge and the trail.

Even in my distracted state I still managed to notice a few things:

10 Things I Noticed

  1. Mr. Walker Sitter was perched on his walker just above 42nd street ravine
  2. the falls roaring gushing rushing down the limestone
  3. more bikers than walkers or runners on the trail
  4. the surreys lined up, ready to take over the trails
  5. an older woman, biking, calling back to some other bikers, did I miss the turn-off? Oh, here it is!
  6. a sprinkler watering the flowers near the fountain which no longer works and the low limestone wall with “Song of Hiawatha” etched on its top
  7. the dirt trail leading into the small wood on the hill up to ford parkway, looking both inviting and buggy
  8. approaching a guy who had been running when I saw him far ahead of me, but now was walking. Right before I reached him, he started running again
  9. a big black something on the ground — an oversized glove? a hat? a knee brace? I couldn’t tell
  10. most of the dirt on the trail between edmund and the river road was tightly packed, but a few stretches where loose and sandy

Wordle Challenge

5 tries: tough/wheat/haste/hated/hater


Middle-aged, it’s tough to watch
wheat gently waving in the wind
without haste and not want to slow down yourself
but as a kid I hated anything slow —
snails, sermons, that quiet time right after lunch
when you were supposed to be still on your cot.
Wedged between other writhing bodies
all of us desperate to be done with this dark room
we felt the dripping of each second
and despised it.

Today’s Water: Water Sign :: Cancer

In comes and goes in waves, but today I’m not worried that I have cancer. This irrational and rational fear took hold of me a few years ago and it’s been hard to shake, especially as I witness family and friends struggle with and die from it. Yesterday I read about a friend’s ovarian cancer and the terrible life-extending drugs she has to keep taking post-chemo to prevent the cancer from coming back. They cost $24,000 a month. Her insurance covers it, but what if it didn’t? What would she do? Would my shitty insurance cover these costs, if I had cancer?

Ode to Money, or Patient Appealing Health Insurance for Denial of Coverage/ Katie Farris

I don’t know what money is. Moss? The mink’s crescent
teeth? Or maybe money is
the morning I woke
at dawn to wander
past the orange
blossoms, a smell with four
dimensions, touching me through
time. Is that


My uncle, Christopher Marlowe,
mad, drank the visions until he died.
You bury

To determine a family’s net
value, make a list of assets, then subtract
liabilities. Asset: Geraldine Fox’s 1948 degree in
chemistry. Liability: William Marlowe’s propensity
for hurting his daughter. Am I doing this right? Is this

       the gold standard? 

Asset: seeing light that isn’t there,
like a ship passing through the narrow harbors
of my eyes, scraping—
is burying treasure a cash

I once buried a half-
decayed skunk I fished from my Uncle Christopher’s
garbage can, covered in bees. X marks the spot.

In sum: perhaps the moon’s an insurance adjuster.

America’s optimistic to dye its money
green. Leaves are green
because of chlorophyll, which is the machine
that turns sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into leaf, stem, and root. All
the little blades of grass left behind by the lawn mower like Civil
War soldiers. Same as cash.

                      A heavy-bodied moth

caught between glass and screen casts its shadow down
into the palm of my hand: one dark coin.

I’ve been thinking about buying and reading Katie Farris’s collection about her breast cancer, Standing in the Forest of Being Alive, even before it came out in April. Maybe I should get it and read it this summer?

june 6/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
72 degrees
dew point: 61

Ran with Scott this morning. Another warm, thick, still morning. We followed Scott’s getting-back-into-running training plan: run 15 minutes, walk 2, run 15 minutes. Our walk started right by the trestle. My left hip felt a little stiff, my left knee harder to lift at the beginning, but I mostly felt fine. My big right toe isn’t hurting anymore.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. birds, 1: several little birds on the path, reluctant to fly away, forcing a biker to slow down
  2. birds, 2: more of these little birds — sparrows? finches? — stopped right in front of me a few minutes later
  3. the white bike — a memorial for some biker killed by a car years ago — hanging upsdie down under the trestle
  4. green green green
  5. cottonwood fuzz lining the sides of the path, a pale green, looking like corroded copper to me
  6. a few puddles of water near the sidewalk edges — did it rain last night, or had nearby grass been watered?
  7. hi dave! hi sara! hi scott! I was impressed that Dave the Daily Walker remembered Scott’s name, so was he
  8. only 1 or 2 small rocks stacked on the ancient boulder
  9. the cracks in the paved trail that they just redid 2 years ago are spreading and deepening, splitting the trail in two. I made note of a small hole that I’ll need to remember to avoid next time I run this way
  10. a woman in a BRIGHT pink shirt and BRIGHT green pants — wow! I wonder if this is the same woman in the BRIGHT pink pants the other day?

No bugs, no roller skiers, no view of the river. No music, no packs of runners, no irritating encounters. No rowers, no overheard conversations, no drumming woodpeckers.

today’s wordle challenge

3 tries / wrong place SCOUT

Here a few “poems” with these words:

They call her wrong place scout
because she always seems to find the place
no one was looking for (or wanted).

wrong place scout

I was in the wrong place
but it must have been the right time
I had found the wrong camp
but stumbled on the right line
I was near the wrong guy
but he must have said the right words
He led me through the wrong door
but out into the right world.

There is no wrong
place to be when
you are scouting mystery.

I forgot about the dark
bird I saw rooting
in the hydrangeas looking
like it landed in the wrong
place until today
when I learned
about the purple martin scout
and decided that that was what it was.

Even though the finished products of this wordle challenge aren’t the greatest, the experiment was fun to do. I thought about different meanings of scout and listened to/studied the lyrics of Dr. John’s “Right Place, Wrong Time.” I also learned about purple martins and remembered a strange bird I watched in my back yard the other day. Bonus: I became aware of the existence of “Minnesota’s Largest Purple Martin House” in Audubon, Minnesota. Wow.

Here’s a water poem that is by one of my favorite poets and will be etched on NASA’s Europa clipper as it travels to study one of Jupiter’s moons:

In Praise of Mystery/ Ada Limón

Arching under the night sky inky
with black expansiveness, we point
to the planets we know, we

pin quick wishes on stars. From earth,
we read the sky as if it is an unerring book
of the universe, expert and evident.

Still, there are mysteries below our sky:
the whale song, the songbird singing
its call in the bough of a wind-shaken tree.

We are creatures of constant awe,
curious at beauty, at leaf and blossom,
at grief and pleasure, sun and shadow.

And it is not darkness that unites us,
not the cold distance of space, but
the offering of water, each drop of rain,

each rivulet, each pulse, each vein.
O second moon, we, too, are made
of water, of vast and beckoning seas.

We, too, are made of wonders, of great
and ordinary loves, of small invisible worlds,
of a need to call out through the dark.

june 5/RUN

3.1 miles
2 trails
79 degrees
dew point: 62

Hot, thick, very poor air quality. There’s a warning about the bad air until midnight: “fine particle pollution” from wild fires in Quebec. I don’t think it really bothered me as I ran.

I ran south on the dirt trail in the grass between edmund and the river road, crossed over to the trail, then headed down to the southern entrance of the Winchell Trail. Ran north until 38th, took the steps up, returned to trail past the ravine, through the tunnel of trees, then crossed over the edmund at 33rd.

Listened to cars whooshing by, kids heading to school, water sprinkling out of the sewer pipe for the first 2 miles. Listened to a Bruno Mars playlist for the last mile.

Before the run, I was thinking about water and The Odyssey — I was reading it all weekend — and how much Odysseus and his men ache for home. And I was imagining how restless they’ll be if and when they get home and stay for too long. Restlessness and staying reminded me of a few things:

Mary Oliver’s restless water and her satisfied stones in The Leaf and the Cloud:

It is the nature of stone
to be satisfied.
It is the nature of water
to want to be somewhere else.

Faith Shearin and the ones who stay, including Penelope:

Odysseus spent years trying to come home
but Penelope never left. He was seduced

by women with islands and sung to by sirens;
he held the wind in a bottle. But Penelope
slept differently in the same bed, weaving

and unweaving the daily details while men
she did not love gathered in her kitchen.
Her face grew thinner, her son grew taller.

And my own thoughts and words about restlessness in the wordle experiment for today:

details: 5 tries, trend/plane/neigh/skein/ENNUI, 2 poems

The latest trend
among those trapped in a post-pandemic plane
is to neigh with horsey impatience
softly scream into a skein of restlessness

The Horse Girls
on the plane between child and young adult
wild neigh and reserved whinny
they skein obsessions
out of their edgy ennui OR out of their ennui

So, I started the run with all of these thoughts still lingering. Within a mile, I started thinking more about restlessness and water. At the end of the run, I pulled out my smart phone and recorded some of those thoughts:

june 5, 2023

transcript: June 5. Just finished my 2 trails run, a 5K. Today I was thinking about restlessness and water and the idea that usually water is restless, constantly moving. But today, in this thick humid morning with haze and poor air quality, it is everything else that is restless, and the water that refuses to move. The river stills. The sweat hovers on my chin, refusing to fall, to bring relief. We are restless: the cars, impatient, as they move past me on the road. Even my legs, as I try to run down hills, refuse to move with any speed. Contrast between the restless and the still.

I remember looking at the river and seeing haze. The only water that was moving at all was the water steadily dripping out of the sewer pipe.

Another thing I just remembered from before my run: I briefly thought about a vision poem I encountered last week and have wanted to post here. Today’s the day!

Motion/ Jessica Goodfellow

Because my husband is going slowly
blind, the lights in our house have motion
sensors. As I walk through the rooms
I am the star of the show, lit one-by-one by
spotlights as I go. Desiring the dark,
I must sit motionless. One itch, one twitch,
and up come the houselights, rendering
me suddenly—again—audience of me.

Tonight we are sitting in the dark
beside the Christmas tree. Its strands
of blinking lights remind my husband
of his childhood, when he could see.
I find it funny they don’t remind him of
the blinking lights that ring the edges of
his eye field, proof of his rods and cones
one-by-one dying. Not ha-ha funny, the other kind.

There are things ha-ha funny about going
blind though. Like that time he walked
wearing a three-piece wool suit into the deep
end of a swimming pool in a hotel in Italy.
I wasn’t there—he told me later.
I was at home, turning lights on and off
through only my anxious pacing.

Sitting by the Christmas tree, I squeeze
my husband’s hand—squeeze and release,
squeeze and release—my hand blinking
in his. It’s such a tiny motion the sensors
don’t detect it. Someday my husband will
sit in the dark and wave his arms wildly
and still be in the dark. One-by-one every-
thing happens, every disappearance appears.

june 4/RUN

3 miles
turkey hollow
71 degrees

Ran with Scott. Another hot, sunny morning. After a few minutes of warming up, I recited the latest poem I memorized for my list of 100 poems: Tony Hoaglund’s “Summer Studies.” Later, near the end of the run, I recited 2 Emily Dickinson poems, “I felt a cleaving in my Mind” and “Hope is a thing with feathers.” Reciting the poems, then talking about them a little, helped distract us from our sweaty effort.

The big event of the run that Scott wanted to make sure I mentioned was the set-to between a small pileated woodpecker and a squirrel. We heard the squeak of a bird, then some rustling of leaves, then I saw a furry darting streak in the tree. Who won, I wonder? And why were they fighting?

Other bird events: A female cardinal flew out in front of Scott just as he was running around a tree ahead of me. I saw him flinch, but not the whirr of the brown bird in flight. A band or scold or screech of blue jays shrieked out across the grass between edmund and the river road, which prompted us to have a conversation about how much better crows are then blue jays. No turkeys in turkey hollow.

We ran past the house on edmund that posts a poem in the front window. A new one about sunflowers! I can’t remember what it’s called, or who wrote it. I’ll just have to run by the house again to figure it out. I don’t have strong opinions about sunflowers. Maybe that’s because I hardly ever see them.

Looking for water poems, I found something else, beside a water poem:

Here/ Robert Creeley

has happened

the world.
on the edge,


After our run, walking Delia the dog, Scott and I talked about Wordle, which I just recently started playing. I told him about my morning routine: a quick look at Facebook, then re-memorize a few poems, read the poem of the day at 3 poetry sites, then wordle. He suggested I try a new experiment: write a poem every day for a month inspired by the wordle that day:

The number of lines = the number of tries I have to make
Each line must include the word that I guessed
possible bonus = the theme of the poem is the correct word

Today: 4 tries: farce blame beads beast

What a farce
to blame the sun
for the beads on your brow
you, beast, were born to sweat.

I don’t really like this, but it’s a start. Maybe I’ll add one more rule: a 5 minute time limit?

june 3/RUN

3.75 miles
marshall loop
70 degrees
humidity: 78%

Hot and sticky. Sprinklers everywhere. Ran through one just before I reached the lake street bridge. Crossing, I glanced down at the rowers on the river. Rowers! I couldn’t hear them, and I could barely see them over the bridge railing, but they were there. Was it a nice day to row, or too hot and windless? The trails were crowded with groups of runners taking over the paths.

Listened to the sprinklers, water falling over the limestone at Shadow Falls, birds for the first 2/3 of the run. Put in my headphones as I walked up the steps of the lake street bridge and listened to Billie Eilish and Dolly Parton and Elton John as I ran (with a few walk breaks) home.

Now, after the run, I’m wiped and can’t think of much to write about the run or water or anything, really.

Just one more thing. Before I ran, I read through this Carl Phillips poem — not a slow, close reading, but a quick one. As I ran, I occasionally thought about rivers and what kind of subjects/selves they are and how loving them is different than loving lakes (which is something I focused on 2 years ago).

Sunlight in Fog/ Carl Phillips

Maybe what a river loves most

about the banks that hold it—that appear to hold it—

is their willingness or resignation to being

      mere context for the river’s progress

or retreat, depending. And maybe how the cattails

and reeds flourish there means they prefer

      a river-love—how the river, running always away

the way rivers tend to, stands as proof that reliability

doesn’t have to mean steadfast, how the river

itself would say so, if a river could say…I’ve forgotten

entirely what it felt like to enter his body

      or to be entered by his. But not how he’d spend

long afternoons—as if to look away had become

impossible—just watching his face get routinely

      blurred by the river’s motion, like an

inside-out version, psychologically, of a painting

where the model sleeps beneath a portrait

      of himself not sleeping, if that makes

any sense…Not, I mean, that he wasn’t capable

of love, but that—like history already mistaking itself

      for myth again—he loved a river.

june 2/RUN

6 miles
bottom franklin hill and back
76 degrees / dew point: 64

Hot! I much prefer running in the cold to running in the heat. Still, today is my 12 year anniversary — my runniversary — and I had to get out there to celebrate it. 12 years ago today I went out for my first couch to 5K run.

Was able to say good morning to Mr. Morning! Noticed the river. Higher above, it burned white through the trees. Down below in the flats, it looked stagnant and brown and not refreshing at all. Heard some birds and a woman saying to her friend, during times of war they…, as I ran past. Smiled and waved at many walkers and runners. Thought I heard the rowers but I was wrong. Wondered if the roller skier I passed as I ran down the hill and she skated up it was using poles — I couldn’t tell because we were both moving too fast. Watched the red flash flash flash of a bike’s back light disappear into the distance. Felt the sweat dripping and trickling and seeping out of my skin.

Listened to the birds and the cars as I ran north. Recorded some thoughts into my phone as I walked up the hill. Put in a playlist — bday 2018 — as I ran back south.

Be Water My Friend

It’s the beginning of the month; time for a new challenge. For June 2023, more on water. I’d like to read Alice Oswald’s Nobody, but I need to read The Odyssey first. I started yesterday. I love Emily Wilson’s recent translation. Very fun. Anyway, I’ll finish The Odyssey, then read Oswald’s take on it in Nobody. At the same time, I’m thinking of reviewing some water poems I’ve already collected — maybe memorizing a few, then using them for inspiration. Maybe I’ll even do another cento? Today I started with Oswald’s Evaporations, partly because it came up as a poem I posted on june 2, 2021. I also watched a clip of Bruce Lee’s Be Water My Friend.

Empty your mind. Be
formless shapeless like
water now you
put water into a cup
it becomes the cup
you put water into a bottle
it becomes the bottle
you put it into a tea pot
it becomes the tea pot
now water can flow or
it can craaaaasshh
be water my friend

before the run

As I ran I hoped to think about water subjectivities and what it is to be water . I think this was also inspired by a quote from Oswald that I re-read yesterday:

I sometimes wonder whether I’m a very keen swimmer, and whether for me, poetry is equivalent to swimming. I’ve often noticed when I swim, the strangeness of the way the body literally turns into a fish, but the head remains human and rather cold, and looking around at this strange flat reflective surface. I’m often very piercingly aware of the difference between my head and my body when I’m swimming because I’m not necessarily someone who goes underwater, I love swimming along the surface of rivers. Perhaps, my poems do feel a need to convey that continued separation of the head remaining human and the body becoming animal, or plant, or mineral, or whatever it can be. In some way, I suppose I’m trying to find rhythms that will heal that divide.


I think that’s exactly it, that we seem to exist as bodies and minds. That’s always slightly troubled me that I can’t quite make them be the same thing. I always have two narratives going on and it’s extraordinary the way the mind is floating around seemingly quite untethered and yet the body has all these laws like gravity, and limit, and size, and hunger, that it’s obeying. How those two interact and how they come to define what it is to be human is again—I’m wary of using the verb think because I don’t think poetry is necessarily about thinking—but it gets hold of questions, and reveals them as questions, and then reveals what’s underneath them, and then what’s underneath that. I suppose each book tries to peel away a layer of that problem and present it again.

Between the Covers interview with Alice Oswald

during the run

Halfway through the run, I stopped to record my thoughts by speaking into my smart phone: Almost 3.5 miles in, just walking back up the franklin hill on a super hot, humid day. Before I started running, I was thinking about water and I read and then listened to Alice Oswald’s “Evaporations” and Bruce Lee’s “Be Water My Friend.” So I was thinking about how there’s a line in the Alice Oswald about how water prefers to be disorderly and slapdash —

 I notice
The Water doesn’t like it so orderly
What Water admires
Is the slapstick rush of things melting

I was thinking of this dog bark I heard across the road on Seabury and my thought was that this bark was slapdash. Then I was thinking of Bruce Lee’s “Be Water” and how I feel even more like water right now because I’m not just damp, I’m dripping sweat in this humidity. And I’m not sure why this happened but I started to think about — oh, I was thinking about how I had locked into this rhythm and I could really feel it in my glutes, which is great because I think that’s what you ideally want, and I was feeling that I was in a steady rhythm, not really thinking, more animal, and then I thought about how it feels more like a machine to me (than an animal). Then I was thinking about how when machines are being designed/engineered, they look to the bio-mechanics of various animals. Machines are really animals with a very strict routine. Animals and machines and Donna Haraway and cyborgs — the idea of us being both machines and animals. What part of us is the I, the animal, the machine, the — ?

[a few minutes later] I almost forgot, when I turned around at the 3 mile point and went on the lower trail right by the river, the river looked very still and un-refreshing. I looked at it, and because it was so still, the clouds were reflected in it, and I thought about Huidobro’s line, 8 glances to turn the sea into sky. I thought what I was doing was turning the river into sky….And now I’m thinking about these different subjectivities we inhabit — the I, the animal, the machine — when you recognize that you’re all of those things, that doesn’t mean you are free from subjectivity and your specific historical, material location; it just means that you’ve eliminated division, you’re immersed in the water where it’s all together. It all is entangled — a better word? [thinking of Ross Gay here]

after my run

A lot of thoughts on water and subjectivity and the I/animal/machine are reoccurring ideas that I’ve been writing about/wrestling with for years. I think it was last year that I started to imagine myself as less of a fish in the water, more of a boat. What does it look like, how might it feel to be all of these things — water, boat, fish, human/brain?

note: I added the second part of Evaporations to my list of poems to memorize.

A few days ago, I found some summer heat poems on the NYTimes Book Review. I thought I saved the link, but now I can’t find it. My favorite was this one:

Summer Studies/ Tony Hoagland

When Ellen told Mary about the secret lake
she swore her to silence

but Mary invited Jerome
who couldn’t even swim and Luanne

came with him and it was funny that summer
the way that scarce resources

collided with the whole system
of who was cool, or not

the old rule being that who was cool
would get to stay that way

by jumping into the lake
and who was not would have to stay

hot and dirty
by simple omission of information.

But that dry summer the rumors spread:
someone was giving out maps, someone

was giving tutorials in every twist and
bobby-pin turn

you had to take in the red dirt road
that got you there.

When you got near you could hear
through the trees

splashes and cries of people who
might not even be friends.

And the clear water, like the social milieu that summer
was quite frankly stirred up, confused

thanks to the leaky lips, Ellen said,
of certain persons

who would let anyone in.

may 31/RUN

3 miles
2 trails (long)
75 degrees

Warm this morning, but it didn’t feel miserably hot, probably because I was able to be in the shade for most of the run. So much wonderful shade, so many friendly shadows! Ran south above, north below, on the Winchell Trail. Didn’t look at the river much, even when I was closer to it. One glance: between the thickening trees near the southern entrance of the Winchell Trail, I saw a small patch of sparkling water.

today’s color: the blue of the blue jay (I think it was a blue joy) that flashed past me as I rounded the curve at 42nd. Normally I can’t see the color of birds, and I’m not sure if you’d call what I saw seeing, more like the idea of blue or a voice calling out, blue! What kind of blue was it? Not deep or dark but light and intense, almost glowing. But not pale blue — somewhere in-between dark and light.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the shadow of tree sprawled across the path
  2. the steady flow of water coming out of the sewer pipe near 42
  3. the clicking and clacking of roller skier’s poles up above me near folwell
  4. passing 2 walkers and hearing one of them say walk or should be walking or something like that
  5. the steady stream of cars driving by
  6. a few kids’ voices at the playground
  7. the flash of a white t-shirt up ahead on the trail, then disappearing around the bend
  8. leaning trees creating archways to pass through in several spots on the winchell trail
  9. cottonwood fuzz on the edges of the trail
  10. the metal slats in the ravine were slick and slippery

Mary Ruefle on Eavesdropping, You, and Unhitching in “On Sentimentality”

before the run

Today’s the last day of May and my last day with Mary Ruefle. I just finished reading/skimming her lecture, “On Sentimentality.”

Eavesdropping: In response to a poet who criticizes and laments the too frequent use of a generic You in poetry as too passive, turning us into observers, mere eavesdroppers, Ruefle asks: What’s wrong with eavesdropping? I agree. Today during my run, eavesdrop. Listen in on conversations between birds, the river and the sky, walkers.

YOU: What kind of subject are you (or is You)? And, if you are You, then who is the I? The path, a shadow, that tree? Think about this as you run beside the river.

unhitching: to crudely paraphrase Lévi-Strauss, unhitching happens in brief moments when we can step outside of or beside or just beyond — below the threshold of thought, over and above society — to contemplate/experience/behold the this, the what it is, the essence of everything, Mary Oliver’s eternity. In your run above the gorge, near the river, below the trees, can you unhitch?

during the run

In spite of the warm conditions, I managed to wonder about/wander through or with all 3 of these! A little bit of eavesdropping, some unhitching or at least thinking about how/where unhitching is possible, and becoming a You.

All of these ideas were simmering in my mind the entire time I ran, but I had a breakthrough in the second mile as I passed a walker and a dog on the Winchell Trail. They noticed me before I reached them and moved to the side. I said thank you and the woman replied you’re welcome. As I continued running on the steep-ish trail with no railing I thought about how when I said thank you, I was the I, she was the you. But when she answered you’re welcome, I become the you and she the I. Each of us both. Then I started thinking about the space and time between when we each embodied the pronoun, before my I turned into a you or her you into and I. This is the space of possibility where unhitching can happen, when we can be both a you and an I or something else that doesn’t divide and separate or assign us a fixed role — as active I or passive you. A moment when we can experience or behold the is below the threshold of thought, over and above society and its constructs. Not long after thinking these things, I encountered the blue flash of the bird and it felt magical.

I wanted to hold onto these ideas so I eventually stopped in the ravine, just past the oak savanna, to record my thoughts.

we exchanged the You. First they were the you, then I was, but there was some time in-between before we switched from I to you or you to I that was undetermined or both or nothing and that it’s those moments where we have the opportunity to unhitch.

the immeasurable or barely measurable lag between what we do, what we feel, what we hear, what we see, and our brain and as it travels to the brain then travels back out in whatever form. That is where those moments occur. (I’m thinking about a Radiolab episode I listened to last year)

thoughts recording during my run

And, a few minutes later, after my run was done, I recorded a few more thoughts:

Instead of lamenting the loss of what we once were like in Marie Howe’s “Singularity,” what if we gave more attention to the possibilities that exist in those spaces between the You and the I? Those moments of unhitching …And I was thinking about Robin Wall Kimmerer and the moss again and this idea of enough-ness, being satisfied with the small moments. Not trying to get more, to be more, but to just be, or to not be, or to be passive.

Not an observer or eavesdropper as someone who is spying on, staring at, invading the space of others. Not a lurker, as in lurking troll. Is there another way to understand how to notice the world passively? An absorber? Not a lurker, but a dweller?

thoughts recorded after my run

After my run, I also recorded myself reciting a poem that memorized a few years ago and was trying to keep fresh as one of my 100 poems memorized: Natural Forces/Vincente Huidobro. I almost got every word correct.

after the run

Such a great run, with so many interesting ideas! Arriving home and then trying to put the feeling of the run and the feeling of my thoughts into words, dulled some of the shine. It’s hard to find the right best proper most profound complete words to translate the experience. I didn’t want to lose so many great ideas and the moments of clarity. Then, another thought: what if the goal was not to accurately or exhaustively remember and then record my thoughts and feelings, but to hold onto those feelings and allow them to shift my perspective. I’m not sure that makes sense, but it did to me when I first thought it.

I have enjoyed reading Ruefle all this month. I’ve gotten to know her a little bit better and been able to wander in many different directions. I’ve also experimented with a new way of engaging with ideas/authors/writings. As an academic, I used to spend hours trying to effectively (and comprehensively) summarize the argument of a piece of writing. This summary, what one of my profs called appreciation, was always the first step. With Ruefle, attempting to lay out her entire argument in a neat and logical way doesn’t work. Why try to pin down her wild and wandering thoughts in such a way? Why waste all of my energy trying to summarize something that shouldn’t be summarized? So instead, I’ve been trying to engage with the little bits and bobs (thanks British TV for reminding me of this wonderful phrase!) that resonate for me. For me the point is not to KNOW these poems and lectures and essays by Ruefle but to FEEL them in small and big ways.

Some other ideas in “On Sentimentality” that I want to store away for future Sara:

I You They are invented devices

The words I, and you, and they, are grammatical devices invented simply for arrangement and totally devoid of the intense and exclusive sense usually attributed to them.

“On Life”/ Percy Shelley, quoted in Ruefle’s MRH, page 32

on vague Yous and John Keats’ “This Living Hand”

The poem is nothing but a gigantic, disembodied hand pointing a finger at someone. That finger is a magnet and a conductor: it reaches out to the vague, ill-defined you like God reaching within an inch of Adam, and it charges the reader with all the responsibility in the world: go figure these things out for yourself, while you still have blood in your veins.

page 35

another definition of poetry

a good poem is seldom comfortable; either it vanquishes us with anguish or electrifies us with ecstasy or makes us pause and consider a new sense of the world or unravels us altogether, but never does it make us feel comfortable in the fashing of these ads [part of a discussion about an ad that used the phrase, the poetry of knits].

pages 46-47


The possibility, vital for life, of unhitching, which consists … in grasping, during the brief intervals in which our species can bring itself to interrupt its hive-like activity, the essence of what it was and continues to be, below the threshold of thought and over and above society; in the conntemplating of a mineral more beautiful than all oru creations; in the scent that can be smelt at the heart of a lily and is more imbued with learning than all our books; or in the brief glance, heavy with patience, serenity and mutual forgiveness, that, through some involuntary understanding, one can sometimes exchange with a cat.

Lévi-Strauss quoted MRH page 52

Returning again to the ideas of You and I and We and Us, I wonder if some of my thoughts were influenced by a poem I read while drinking my coffee:


I remember the beginning
a dream ancient as dawn
a dream of destiny drumming up the blood
the flesh
this earth
a dream we were once one

may 30/RUN

5 miles
franklin hill turn around
65 degrees
humidity: 76%

When I woke up this morning, I could smell the rain. Waited until it stopped, around 8 am, to go out for my run. Already hotting up, humid, bright sun. But a cool breeze that felt like air conditioning when it hit my sweaty skin. Ran north through the Welcoming Oaks, past the ancient boulder — no stacked stones, instead a woman standing nearby dressed in the same color combo as me, black on bottom and orange on top. I remember running above the old stone steps, but have absolutely no memory of running on the double bridge. I spent a minute trying to remember anything but couldn’t. I do remember running below the lake street bridge and noticing someone sleeping behind a post. Caught a brief glance of the river, almost sparkling, between the trees but forgot to look at it when I had a clearer and closer view at the bottom of the hill. Heard a drumming woodpecker, saw the brightest, glowiest outfit I’ve seen in a while: pink pants and a red jacket. As I ran by, I could feel the pink yelling excitedly at me, PINK!!!!

Listened to the cars whooshing by as I ran north, then put in “Dear Evan Hansen” as I ran back south.

No bugs, no roller skiers, no chill beats booming out of a scooter’s stereo (heard that yesterday on my walk with Scott and Delia). I did see a scooter zoom by. I think they were on the road, pretending to be a car. No eagles, no squirrels, no big groups of walkers or runners. No rowers, no honking geese. And, hardly any yellow.

Before my run, I found a poem, “Butter,” that made me want to focus on yellow as I ran. I kept returning to the task — look for yellow — but all I could see was blue, green, gray. The only yellow I remember was: the dotted lines on the bike path and the neon crosswalk sign. No yellow shirts or yellow bikes or yellow shorts or yellow cars. No yellow thoughts or yellow voices or yellow light or yellow smells.

The butter poem is the poem of the day on Poetry Foundation. As I read it, I thought about my past love of butter and the story, often told about me, that I liked to melt butter in the microwave and eat it like soup. How many times did I actually do that? It also makes me think of my quote from Audre Lorde about the yellow pellet put in the white butter that spreads, adding the Yes! to our no lives. And it makes me think about Mary Ruefle and her yellow happiness.

Thinking about butter, here are a few images that immediately pop into my head from my childhood:

How uncomfortably scratchy and ticklish my throat felt after drinking the butter soup. Even now 40 years later when I eat butter, I sometimes feel a phantom scratch. Yuck!

Our old popcorn machine had a small metal tray that you put butter in then shoved in a slot so it could melt while the corn popped. I remember pouring the liquid butter over the popcorn, always drenching a few kernels until they were soggy. Even more than using it to melt butter, I remember using the little metal tray to try and catch snowflakes with my sister Marji on a rare snow day in North Carolina.

another butter story about me which I have the thinnest. vaguest memory of: at some restaurants, they would put scoops/balls of butter in a dish on the table. Apparently I ate it like ice cream, either because I thought it was ice cream, or because I liked butter that much.

Butter/ Elizabeth Alexander

My mother loves butter more than I do,
more than anyone. She pulls chunks off
the stick and eats it plain, explaining
cream spun around into butter! Growing up
we ate turkey cutlets sauteed in lemon
and butter, butter and cheese on green noodles,
butter melting in small pools in the hearts
of Yorkshire puddings, butter better
than gravy staining white rice yellow,
butter glazing corn in slipping squares,
butter the lava in white volcanoes
of hominy grits, butter softening
in a white bowl to be creamed with white
sugar, butter disappearing into
whipped sweet potatoes, with pineapple,
butter melted and curdy to pour
over pancakes, butter licked off the plate
with warm Alaga syrup. When I picture
the good old days I am grinning greasy
with my brother, having watched the tiger
chase his tail and turn to butter. We are
Mumbo and Jumbo’s children despite
historical revision, despite
our parent’s efforts, glowing from the inside
out, one hundred megawatts of butter.

Had to look up “tiger Mumbo Jumbo” to find the reference: the story of Little Black Sambo. When we lived in North Carolina, we would often eat at Sambos for breakfast.

may 28/RUN

3.15 miles
marshall loop (short)
65 degrees

Ran a shorter version of the Marshall loop with Scott. We ran for 10 minutes, then walked for 1 minute, 3 times. I liked it as a way to keep everything more relaxed. My heart rate stayed lower too. No rowers on the river, no waffle smells coming out of Black. What else do I remember? Looked for the eagle perched on the dead tree below the lake street bridge. Nothing. Felt the soft salty sand on the edge of the sidewalk on the bridge. Got scratched by some dead branches poking out of a hedge.

Wound is the Origin of Wonder/ Maya C. Popa

A cross-breeze between this life
and the imagined one.

I am stuck in an almost life,
in an almost time. If I could say,

but I cannot, and so on. Sunlight
dizzies through the barren trees,

the skyline, a blue fog against
a yellow light, and on the highway

every Westward car blinds me.
Every surface reflects

that quiet understanding: decisions
have been made, irreversible decisions

to upend beauty for something
approximate—the airport hotel,

its Eiffel Tower on the roof,
a playground near the public storage.

Beyond, bridges like monuments
to fracture, and a sign for Pain Law:

not metaphor, but litigation.
Who would not, given acreage

in another’s mind, lie there
for a while to watch the sky be sky?

I was drawn to this poem because of its discussion of the almost. I need to spend more time with it to understand, but I feel like Popa thinks of the almost life as a negative, as preventing access to the real (sky as sky). I think of the almost in more positive ways.

Also: Beyond, bridges like monuments
to fracture, and a sign for Pain Law:

not metaphor, but litigation.

What does that mean — not metaphor, but litigation?

may 27/RUN

4.5 miles
marshall loop (cleveland)
69 degrees

Another wonderful morning! Maybe a little too warm and sunny for me. I started my run late — almost 10:00 am. Ran through the neighborhood to the lake street bridge. Rowers! 2 or 3 shells with 8 rowers each. I don’t remember what color the water was — probably blue? — but I noticed a few little waves. I hit the lights right and ran all the way up the Marshall hill to Cleveland without stopping. Didn’t stop until I reached the river road a mile later. Walked for a minute and recorded some thoughts about black and darkness into my phone.

Mostly felt strong, but my legs were sore and tired for the last mile. I think I should get my iron levels checked again. Anything else? Didn’t hear the bells at St. Thomas, but heard the roar of a bunch of motorcycles. Encountered 2 kids in a little motorized car on the sidewalk; they were good drivers, giving me lots of space to pass them. I don’t remember hearing birds — I must have? — or seeing roller skiers. Noticed my shadow, sharp and strong next to me at one point.

For the first 3 miles I listened to my breathing or my feet hitting the asphalt or motorcycles. For the last mile and a half, a playlist: “Back in Black,” “Upside Down,” and “I’ll Be There.”

Mary Ruefle and Black Sadness

from My Private Property/ Mary Ruefle

Black sadness is the ashling, its remains are scattered over
several provinces, it is the sadness of takes and hypen-
ated names, of clouds who think they are grapes, it is the
sadness of brooches, which may be worn on the breast or
at the neck but how sad none see the sadness of detail
there, the woman playing a guitar without strings, the
hare leaping from the fox in vain, it is sadness torn and
sadness rent, it is the hold in sadness from which no words
escape and no soul can spring, it is the calorific sadness
of bombs. Many of us used to own a black velvet skirt. It
is like Angie Moss on her way to the fair, it is there she
will have first adventure.

before the run

Today I will do the Marshall loop which goes by Black, the coffee and waffle place, and I will think about black and the dark and things that don’t echo but absorb, swallow, consume. I’d like to think about the comfort of black/the dark — the shade — in face of too much white/light.

during the run

I did it! I ran past Black and thought about black and darkness a lot. Some of the thoughts are gone, but some managed to stay.

10 Black/Dark Thoughts or Ideas or Images

  1. no Black smells — that is, I don’t recall smelling coffee or the wonderful smells-better-than-it-tastes waffle smell from the coffee and waffle bar
  2. today, with the bright, warm sun, I wanted the cooling darkness of shadows. My run was always felt better out of the bright light. Half the run was in shadows, half in bright light
  3. so many pleasing shadows! Mine, sprawling trees, lamp posts, buildings
  4. I didn’t hear the St. Thomas bells and, as I was nearing campus, I wondered if it was because something — the wind? — was absorbing their sound. Black bells ringing with a black, echo-less sound?
  5. the dark/black mystery of deep trails down into the gorge
  6. I saw a few waves on the river, but no sparkles. Thought about Homer’s wine dark and the idea of water as deep and dark and endless
  7. my running shorts are at least 10 years old and were, at one time, black. Now, faded by the sun, they’re still black but barely, almost a very dark gray
  8. running down the summit hill to the river road trail, thought about light as knowledge, liberated from Plato’s dark cave of shadows, then the dark womb and women’s ways of knowing and how light (and scrutiny and classifying — dissecting) are masculine, patriarchal and privileged over other ways of knowing, which are often read as feminine and less than, or to be overcome
  9. if light = certainty (but does it?) and knowing for sure, what happens when we are finally certain? What ends when the darkness is over?
  10. thought about the idea of black hearts and then what a literal black heart might look like or why someone might have it and then wondered if a literal white heart might not be just as disturbing*

*looking up black heart, I found this interesting discussion of its recent usage:

In the late 20th century, many black scholars, writers, artists, activists, and everyday people began variously using black heart to express pride in and love of their black identity and experience, reclaiming the long, historical racism against blackness. On social media, they may use the black heart emoji, released in 2016, for emphasis.

black heart Meaning & Origin

Much of my thinking about black and darkness during the run was from the perspective of understanding black and dark as good, or not the bad/evil to white’s/light’s good. When I stopped to walk 2.5 miles in, I recorded some of my thoughts:

Thinking about black and dark and how important that (dark) is to poets and to mystery. There’s a difference between pure black that absorbs everything and a dark gray so I’m kind of conflating those, but it’s the idea of dark as essential and how light can be too bright. The idea of certainty, where you can see everything in its sharp lines and finally know it, is a conclusion, an ending to the mystery. To life. So, that’s not to say that light and certainty aren’t important but they are not the good to dark’s bad.

I think these ideas made more sense in my head. I should say that much of my thinking about black and dark was particularly inspired by a quote I encountered yesterday about hope being a language that dark voices cannot understand — it was the title of a student’s musical composition at FWA’s concert. When I first heard the quote, I was bothered by the idea of dark voices, which could (and has — I’ve taken entire grad classes on it) be connected to actual dark voices, that is, the voices of Black people, so it literally means we don’t need the dark voices of Black people. I also thought about how light gets connected with seeing, which then becomes the dominant way to access truth. So, if you can’t see well — you’re blind, or going blind like me — it’s understood that there’s something wrong with you.

note: I feel like I have too much to say about all of this, which is causing me to struggle to say anything coherent. Maybe I’m not ready to express it yet?

Anyway, all of that was happening in my head as I ran. None if it stayed too long, only flaring then flying away. One of the last thoughts I remember having was, dark voices absolutely understand the language of hope and they are my primary resources for finding and holding onto it! This thought is true for me literally and figuratively. In both my master’s thesis and dissertation, I studied the deeply rich and messy and complicated tragic hope of critical race theorists (especially Cornell West) and black feminists and womanists (Audre Lorde, Patricia Hill Collins, Alice Walker). And now, ever since 2016, I’ve been looking to poetry and poets, for their safeguarding of bewilderment and mystery and their understandings of hope that come from a sharing of joy that is both grief and delight.

after the run

At the end of the run, and now almost 2 hours after it, I’ve arrived here, thinking that not only is the belief that darkness is bad or that there’s no room for dark voices in the light of hope is problematic, it is ridiculous. How can you have hope without grappling with the dark thoughts of mystery, uncertainty, unknowingness? And how can you have a hope that’s strong enough to help us build better futures for everyone if dark voices aren’t at the center of it?

Wow, this topic really got me going! In the past, I might have taken all of this out, but I’ll keep it for future Sara.

One more random note about black. Ruefle’s idea of black sadness as the hold from which no words can spring, no soul can escape,” reminded me of a favorite line from Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Black Cat“:

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear: