june 24/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 4.25 miles
to lake nokomis

Biked over early to open swim. Wasn’t sure when (or if) the thunderstorms would start. As I began, it began drizzling (or spitting as I like to say to my daughter). Not too many people biking on the trail. More runners trying to beat the storms. A nice, easy ride with no vision problems even though it was really gray and my sunglasses made it look even grayer.

swim: 1.6 miles
lake nokomis
68 degrees/drizzling

Wore my wetsuit which was much harder to get on with all the humidity. Spent a few minutes trying to get it zipped up before I finally managed it. Got in early and did 4 loops (.75 miles) off the big beach. The lifeguards were 30 minutes late setting up the course. Once the course was open, I did a loop + an extra trip around the first buoy. The water was wonderfully smooth. The buoys were easier than usual to see. A great swim. I was wiped out when I was done, which felt good. Thought about doing another loop but I wasn’t sure when it might start storming and I still had to bike home–of course, 1 1/2 hours later it still hasn’t stormed. I don’t remember thinking about much while I swam. Mostly I counted: 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left, or 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe left. I like counting. It’s relaxing and distracting. Didn’t see any fish but I did see one duck. No boats. I didn’t hear any planes. Didn’t run into anyone. No kayaks off course. Saw some bright pink, bright yellow, glowing green buoys tethered to swimmers. Most swimmers were wearing wetsuits.

bike: 4.25 miles
back home from lake nokomis

Couldn’t stop smiling on my bike ride back. Happy to have missed the thunder/rain. Happy to have had a good workout. To be in the wonderful water. To see the buoys and not get off course. To bike without the fear of running into someone or the curb.

Right before I started swimming, it began to rain. Soft, slow, steady drops for only a few minutes. I love rain on the lake–what it does to the air hovering above the water, what it does to the water hovering below the air. I searched for “rain on the lake” at the Poetry Foundation site and found this lovely poem:

Song
BY LLOYD SCHWARTZ

rain on the lake
room at the lodge
alone in a room
in the lazy light

loons on the lake
geese in the air
moose in the woods
aware    awake

a cry dislodged
from the musty woods
the gamy musk
of the one aroused

the roaming moose
the rooms lit up
the woods awake
in the loony light

the moon dislodged
the lake aflame
the Muse amazed
amused     aroused

june 22/RUN

3.1 miles
river road path above, south/below, north
65 degrees

What a beautiful morning! Not too hot or humid or windy or sunny. Didn’t listen to music or an audio book or the gorge–except I did hear the coxswain’s bullhorn, a man’s voice today. Ran on the path next to the road on the way to the falls then turned at the double bridge parking lot (44th) and ran below, on the path that starts as dirt then mulched leaves then uneven, barely intact asphalt then newer asphalt. This path undulates, climbing up by 42nd, then down, up by Folwell, then down, then mostly flat until the steps at 38th street. You can take these up and run by the road again or take your chances running down on the dirt path of the Winchell Trail–usually there’s a muddy, mucky spot halfway to the bottom of the Oak Savanna and then too many wildflowers crowding out the already narrow path. Sometimes I take my chances, today I climbed the steps and then kept going past the turn-off and down through the tunnel of trees. Felt pretty good and was happy to run 3 miles without stopping to walk. I like trail running. Sometime this summer I’ll have to convince Scott to run the limestone trail at Pike Island near Fort Snelling.

Tried to think about my writing goals and what I want to do with my vision poetry, but couldn’t hold on to any thoughts.

I really like the storytelling in this poem and the light, easy way it packs so much into a story about sitting around in doughnut pajamas on your 39th birthday.

Lounging on the Couch on my 39th Birthday in Pink Flannel Donut Pajamas/Julie Danho

Surely birds would love to peck
at the dozens of donuts adorning
my arms and legs: the glazed, the jellied,
the vanilla frosted scalloped at the edges
like the worn lace tablecloth in Sito’s
tenement apartment where my mother
father sister aunts uncles cousins
would cram in Sundays, post church,
and I’d eat the frosting off two, return
the bottoms to the box while Sito frowned
and Gido insisted I should disfigure
as many donuts as made me happy. After
he died, she pulled the walls around her
like an afghan and didn’t leave. Sundays,
when I delivered the church bulletin
to her recliner, she’d clasp my face
in both hands, grateful. It’s been decades
since I sat in a pew, but I brought my mother
to the last church hafla, where she won
these pajamas instead of what she wanted
(the platter of walnut baklawa). And maybe
I’ve lived too long to be lounging in pink
flannel donut pajamas, but I love how they
rub against my legs like a cat’s head,
love that someone spent time dreaming up
improbable donuts, like this one here
frosted blue-green, then crosshatched
with piped white stripes, topped with pink
and red sprinkles, a sugared inner tube
floating the middle. How can’t I be hungry?
In the next room, my birthday cake sits
on Sito’s old table, mine since the day
we emptied her apartment and I opened
dresser drawer after dresser drawer to find
hundreds of crocheted dishcloths, stacked
as neatly as cash for a ransom. We knew
she must have made them in her recliner
by the window on those days none of us
were there. It’s almost noon and I’m still
in pajamas, waiting for my daughter
and husband to march into the room
and play me the birthday song they wrote,
her on toy guitar, him on mandolin. I hear
them practicing and it’s so sweet my teeth
ache. Sito, was it once like this for you?

june 21/RUN

5 miles
franklin loop
67 degrees

Decided to run the Franklin loop, which I haven’t done in a while. Felt cooler this morning because it was cloudy and breezy. Proud of myself for making it 4.2 miles before stopping to walk for a few minutes. At some point, on the way to the Franklin bridge, I heard the rowers–or at least the bullhorn of the coxswain, so I paused my audio book, took off my headphones and listened. Tried to see the rowers while running across the bridge, but they were gone. Heard some trickling water on the east side of the river and noticed that the Meeker Island dog park was still closed. Still flooded or flooded again? Walked over the Lake Street bridge and stopped at the overlook to admire the deep gray water. Looked at the west shore and couldn’t tell if I was seeing a person or a plant. Looked at my watch at the bottom of the final hill, the one that climbs up through the tunnel of trees and ends by the two ancient boulders, to figure out the distance of this climb: .2 miles. Thought about how the trees seem thicker and the need to be out of the tunnel and in the open air much greater when you’re climbing up the slight hill then running down it. I should try to incorporate that idea into my haibun about the place.

13 Lines about Walls —Denise Duhamel & Maureen Seaton

Frost: Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
Joyce: and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall.
A wallflower, I peeked at Mr. Popular leaning against a brick wall.
Wallowing, I wept for Ms. Popular as if desire were a wall-
paper pattern Charlotte Perkins Gilman traced decades before Stonewall.
What? Have we all become proverbial balls to some caterwauling wall
of fake news? After each hurricane, I replace the drywall
as if any wall stands a chance against nature. What’s a wall
but a makeshift “fuck you,” waves walloping the seawall
like walleyes bent on survival. Some walls are metaphorical walls
in the mind of a tyrant who promises a nation concrete walls.
Cavafy: Ah why did I not pay attention when they were building the walls?
Emerson: Murder will speak out of stone walls.

june 20/RUN

1.7 miles
mississippi river road, north/33rd/Edmond/35th
65 degrees
humidity: 84%

Was supposed to have open swim today but it rained and there was a threat of more severe weather so it was cancelled. Big bummer. Decided to do a quick run instead. Listened to my playlist and had fun running faster–or at least feeling like I was running faster. It was darker in the tunnel of trees below the road and dripping with the soft, steady drizzle that had just stopped. Can’t remember if I saw anyone else while I was running. I think I did, or am I remembering another run? I know for sure that I got bit by a few mosquitoes. It’s that buggy time of year.

Speaking of mosquitoes, here are two poems I found on the subject:

[mosquito at my ear]
BY KOBAYASHI ISSA
TRANSLATED BY ROBERT HASS

Mosquito at my ear—
does he think
I’m deaf?

Mosquito
Myronn Hardy

She visits me when the lights are out,
when the sun is loving another
part of the world.

She passes through the net I sleep under like
a cloud its holes are easily navigable.

Her buzzing tells me that
she doesn’t want my legs arms cheeks
or chest.

No.

She craves adventure wanting to travel through
the dark canal the spiraling cave
where earthquakes are wind.

Her prize is in sight the gelatinous mass controlling this machine.
How beautiful she thinks it is her needle mouth
filling with water.

Her children will know physics geometry will understand
English Spanish perhaps Portuguese. They will be
haunted their whole lives by trees guns
and a boom that won’t cease.

She cries before drinking the fluid is
salty-sweet. Oh if my mother had
done this for me I would have lived.

june 19/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
70 degrees

Another beautiful morning. Not too hot or humid or windy. Ran towards downtown, past the welcoming oaks, the two ancient boulders left behind from the last ice age 10,000 years ago, the path above the floodplain forest. Under lake street bridge, up above the minneapolis rowing club, under the railroad bridge, along the split rail fence for 2 miles until I reached a dirt path that cut down through some trees to another dirt path. Walked for 1/2 a mile back towards the railroad bridge, climbed some steep wooden stairs that reminded me that my right knee was sore, then ran back on the paved path to the 36th street parking lot and home.

Nearing the railroad bridge I heard a honk. A truck on the other side? A big boat on the river? No, a train! I wondered if it was coming or going and if I’d be able to see it when I reached the bridge. With all the trees, it’s hard to see the top of the bridge until you’re almost right under it. When I got there, a train engine! Only the engine so my timing was lucky. Any sooner or later and I would have missed it. I think this is the first time I’ve ever encountered a train on the trestle. Will I ever see one again? Mundane I guess, but really cool to me.

The dirt path below the split rail fence was mud free and mostly bug free. Much steeper than some of the paths further south. In a few stretches, there was a chain link fence, leaning out. Another stretch had a plastic, make-shift fence. One small section, right above a sewer pipe, had a wrought iron fence. As I reached it, I could hear voices up above and water trickling below. Next time I’d like to run this stretch. I had planned to walk the short part that passes under the trestle and then take the steep stone steps up but didn’t. I was nervous that someone might be down there. Maybe next time? I always struggle to find a balance between being too scared and being safe.

In 2002, Alice Oswald published a book-length poem about the River Dart in south west England–in Devon. She took a tape recorder and interviewed people she encountered on the river. Here’s an excerpt of an excerpt:

Dart/Alice Oswald

The Dart, lying low in darkness calls out Who is it?
trying to summon itself by speaking…

the walker replies

An old man, fifty years a mountaineer, until my heart gave out, so now I’ve taken to the moors.
I’ve done all the walks, the Two Moors Way, the Tors, this long winding line the Dart

this secret buried in reeds at the beginning of sound I
won’t let go of man, under
his soakaway ears and his eye ledges working
into the drift of his thinking, wanting his heart

I keep you folded in my mack pocket and I’ve marked in red where the peat passes are and the
good sheep tracks

cow-bones, tin-stones, turf-cuts
listen to the horrible keep-time of a man walking,
rustling and jingling his keys
at the centre of his own noise,
clomping the silence in pieces and I,
in the pit of his throat, I
summon him just out of earshot

I don’t know, all I know is walking. Get dropped off the military track from Oakehampton and
head down into Cranmere pool. It’s dawn, it’s a huge sphagnum kind of wilderness, and an hour
in the morning is worth three in the evening. You can hear plovers whistling, your feet sink right
in, it’s like walking on the bottom of a lake.

What I love is one foot in front of another. South south west and down the contours. I go slipping
between Black Ridge and White Horse Hill into a bowl of the moor where echoes can’t get out.

Listen,
a
lark
spinning
around
one
note
splitting
and
mending
it

and I find you in the reeds, a trickle coming out of a bank, a foal of a river

one step-width water
of linked stones
trills in the stones
glides in the trills
eels in the glides
in each eel a fingerwidth of sea

in walking boots, with twenty pounds on my back: spare socks, compass, map, water purifier so I
can drink from streams, seeing the cold floating spread out above the morning,

tent, torch, chocolate not much else.

Which’ll make it longish, almost unbearable between my evening meal and sleeping, when I’ve
got as far as stopping, sitting in the tent door with no book, no saucepan, not so much as a stick
to support the loneliness

he sits clasping his knees, holding his face low down between them,
he watches black slugs,
he makes a little den of his smells and small thoughts
he thinks up a figure far away on the tors
waving, so if something does happen,
if night comes down and he has to leave the path
then we’ve seen each other, somebody knows where we are.

june 18/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back

The bike ride to the lake is only 4.25 miles and only takes 20 minutes but it seems much longer. I think it’s because of all the different places I bike by: south on the river road, through the crowded minnehaha falls, by the Dairy Queen, over the mustache bridge, on the creek path, close to lake hiawatha, up the hill, then around lake nokomis. I didn’t have any problems with my vision today as I biked. Nice! I should make sure to bike more this summer while I can still see. The bike ride back, after my swim, was good too. I just barely missed getting stuck in the narrow bike part of the double bridge at 44th street with a surrey.

swim: 2 miles/3 loops
lake nokomis
75 degrees

What a great night for a swim! Not too much wind so the water was calm. The buoys were positioned well. I could barely see them on the way back but there were enough people around to see the way and I could always see the top of the building at the big beach. My sighting is good this year, which is such a relief. Lot of swimmers because it was free night–first timers preparing for their first triathlons. Heard lots of people calling out, “I can do this” or “I’m swimming in 3-2-1….I mean it this time…3-2-1….okay, here I go.” Didn’t have too many run-ins (or swim-ins?) with other swimmers–I fear I might have routed a few. I was tired by the end. Breathed every five or five on the right side, 3 on the left. Or five then six. Didn’t see any fish or ducks. One sailboat before open swim started. Heard lots of planes roaring overhead. Got to the lake almost an hour early so I sat on the beach and listened. Heard people talking, dogs barking, and a swing rhythmically creaking. As it went up it sounded like Rs rolling. On the way down: mmmwwwooowww. Over and over again.

Just looked at my notes and saw that I wrote down swarming bugs. Little gnats dancing around, flying in my face. A few years ago, Scott looked it up and discovered that they’re not swarming but mating.

Just read that Joy Harjo will be the next US Poet Laureate. So cool! In honor of her, here’s one of her poems:

Ah, Ah
BY JOY HARJO
for Lurline McGregor

Ah, ah cries the crow arching toward the heavy sky over the marina.
Lands on the crown of the palm tree.

Ah, ah slaps the urgent cove of ocean swimming through the slips.
We carry canoes to the edge of the salt.

Ah, ah groans the crew with the weight, the winds cutting skin.
We claim our seats. Pelicans perch in the draft for fish.

Ah, ah beats our lungs and we are racing into the waves.
Though there are worlds below us and above us, we are straight ahead.

Ah, ah tattoos the engines of your plane against the sky—away from these waters.
Each paddle stroke follows the curve from reach to loss.

Ah, ah calls the sun from a fishing boat with a pale, yellow sail. We fly by
on our return, over the net of eternity thrown out for stars.

Ah, ah scrapes the hull of my soul. Ah, ah.

june 17/RUN

3 miles
austin, mn
65 degrees
humidity: 76%

Ran with Scott in Austin. My legs felt weird at the beginning, heavy at the end. No hot sun or humidity. Nice. Don’t remember much except feeling really tired around 2.6 miles and wanting to stop and walk (we didn’t). Later in the day, we decided to walk some more. An extra 5+ miles. We were both sore by the end.

june 16/SWIM

1.38 miles/2 loops
lake nokomis
61 degrees (air) 70 degrees (water)

The air was colder than the water. Wetsuit weather. The light was strange and the buoys were hard to see–only 2 of them today, but I did fine. I could see just enough to not get off course. Just barely glimpsed the bottom of the rowboat at the little beach, overturned under the lifeguard stand, and the top of the lifeguard building at the big beach. I felt buoyant, floating on top of the water. My back hurt a little. Didn’t see any fish or ducks or sail boats. I don’t think I heard any airplanes. Didn’t run into any swimmers. No weeds floating in my face. What did I think about? Mostly, I hoped my back wound’t hurt and my leg wouldn’t cramp up or the buoy wouldn’t disappear or I wouldn’t end up way off course. I only did 2 loops but I was tired at the end. Now my body burns, a glowing, welcome ache.

june 15/RUN

3.5 miles
river road path, north/south
63 degrees
87% humidity/dew point: 61

Even though the humidity and dew point were high, this run wasn’t miserable. It helped that it was only 63 degrees. Ran a little faster than I realized. Spent a lot of time trying to slow down my breathing with chanting: “strawberry/yogurt” in 2 3/out 2. Couldn’t see the river or hear any rowers. Greeted other runners. Didn’t see any roller skiers or rollerbladers or many bikers. No dogs. No squirrels. Only one large-ish group of runners. Thought a lot about the stretch of the trail (my favorite part, which dips below the road) that I’m writing at least 2 haibuns about. I’ve written one about descending into it already. The second one is about ascending. After stopping to study it, I’ve realized that the season for the haibun is late August, when the trees are thick with leaves and heavy with trapped humidity/insects. When you can’t see the river or the road or the forest because of all of the green.

Almost forgot–a bug flew on my face and then into my mouth mid-run. I was able to spit it out, which was gross. At least I didn’t gag on it, like I have in the past. Yuck!

Summer/Ronald Johnson (1967)
excerpt

2
What the Earth Told Me

No surface is allowed to be bare,

& nothing to stand still. A man could forever study a pebble

& at last see dilations & expansions of the hills—

to pull the most slender stalk, is to jostle the stars,

& between the bearded grass

& man ‘looking in the vegatable glass

of Nature’, is a network of roots & suckers

fine as hairs.

I threw a stone upon a pond

& it bounded the surface, its circles interlacing

& radiating out to the most ephemeral edge.

Flint & Mica, Lichened Limestone, Shale & Sarcens, Sandstone, Soil.

I saw the wind moving on a meadow

& the meadows moving under wind—

lifting, settling & accumulating.

Flint & Mica, Lichened Limestone,

Shale & Sarcens, Sandstone, Soil.

3
What the Air Told Me

It is breathed into Orpheus’ lyre & as rocks & trees & beasts

is divided there. Its origins strain

precedes the sound, by as much as echoes follow after:

the quivering of ‘cow-quake’, a ‘loud audible

humming of bees on the down’, stresses within the sustaining earth,

clouds of fleece & mare’s tail.

I saw with single eye, the facet of the fly—

the infinitesimal mechanics & all the metallic sheens

of a blue-bottle. In a land where the sun grows fat on cloud

& summer hasn’t come

till your foot can cover twenty daisies,

she came to the dark, open beak

& laid a myriad of eggs. And in two day’s time the dead

bird’s body simulated life: maggots in eye-socket &

under feather, in a subtle movement.

The White & The Glistening.

4
What the Leaf Told Me

Today I saw the word written on the poplar leaves.

It was ‘dazzle’. The dazzle of the poplars.

As a leaf startles out

from an undifferentiated mass of foliage,

so the word did from a leaf—

A Mirage Of The Delicate Polyglot

inventing itself as cipher. But this, in shifts & gyrations,

grew in brightness, so bright

the massy poplars soon outshone the sun . . .

‘My light—my dews—my breezes—my bloom’. Reflections

In A Wren’s Eye.

june 13/RUNBIKESWIM

run: 2.25 miles
river road up above, south/down below, north
63 degrees

So beautiful this morning! Sunny, calm, cool, low humidity. Decided to do a quick, easy run. Stayed up above, next to the road running south and took the lower, rougher trail on the way back, running north. Noticed the boulders and the split trail fence that stretched alongside the walking path up above. Heard some yelling, laughing kids at a school. Running back, on the lower path, I payed attention to the wrought iron fence and how bushes and vines and wildflowers were reaching through the bars. Will this be trimmed back anytime soon and who will do it, volunteers or the parks department?

bike: 4.3 miles
lake nokomis

Biking by Minnehaha Falls park the parkway was so crowded. Very happy to be on a bike and not in a car! Also, noticed as I turned onto the lake biking path that the flooding is over and the walking path is open again. All that’s left is a mucky mess.

swim: 1.5 miles
lake nokomis
70 degrees (air and water)

A great second open swim at lake nokomis. Decided that 2 loops with one extra trip around the first buoy (an extra 200 yards) was enough. Cold in the water without a wetsuit. The water felt very thick and slow at the beginning–extra dense, which is strange because I think that’s supposed to happen when the water is warmer. Couldn’t really see the buoys at all on the way back because of the sun but it didn’t matter because I could see the tops of the building at the big beach. Saw several swimmers swimming way off course and realized that I swim straighter than a lot of people who can see much better than me. Coolest thing I remember: watching the bubbles from my hand slicing into the water make funky shapes and lines.

Looking for a poem about lakes, I found this one. I like the idea of wind and the sound of wind being two separate things and the soft, simple way this poem reveals itself–oh and the line: “these creatures robed/in your parents’ skins.”

At the Lake House
BY JON LOOMIS

Wind and the sound of wind—
across the bay a chainsaw revs
and stalls. I’ve come here to write,

but instead I’ve been thinking
about my father, who, in his last year,
after his surgery, told my mother

he wasn’t sorry—that he’d cried
when the other woman left him,
that his time with her

had made him happier than anything
he’d ever done. And my mother,
who’d cooked and cleaned for him

all those years, cared for him
after his heart attack, could not
understand why he liked the other

woman more than her,
but he did. And she told me
that after he died she never went

to visit his grave—not once.
You think you know them,
these creatures robed

in your parents’ skins. Well,
you don’t. Any more than you know
what the pines want from the wind,

if the lake’s content with this pale
smear of sunset, if the loon calls
for its mate, or for another.

june 12/RUN

3 miles
downtown loop
65 degrees

Ran with Scott downtown this afternoon. With the wind, it was cold enough that I had goosebumps before we started. My legs felt heavy and strange. Plodding along. I remember it being hot at Boom Island with no shade and loud on Plymouth–music coming from some sort of festival. They’re setting up for an art festival this weekend. Extra porta potties were everywhere and scaffolding too. Lots of tourists and segways and motorized scooters. Some other runners. A huge log jammed in the river near Nicollet island. Scott and I wondered how far it had traveled from up river? Running over the Stone Arch Bridge, I looked down at Mill Ruins Park and saw emerald green grass. Felt the spray from the falls, carried by the wind.

Here’s a poem about the Missississippi River from Bao Phi, a poet from Minneapolis.

A poem from Bao Phi


M I S S I SS I PP I
M I SS I SS I PP I
M I SS I SS I –
OKAY, BAO
the elementary teacher roared, and my delight at the staccato flow of the letters
evaporated.
This was over thirty years ago – I don’t hold her ghost to grudge.
How many times have I sat above that water, walked beside it
and wondered about its history all
the while taking for granted
I could spell its name.
The first time I saw its tail was after Katrina,
the wide water in New Orleans,
the houses drowned, and yet Vietnamese ate trays of boiled crawdad
tipping skinny neck bottles of Tabasco,
squeezed lemon slices until they bled out.
Somewhere some river is always running
and who chooses to run beside what river in what country,
and who gets sent down them.
Me and my teenage friends, we found a rotted railroad bridge,
climbing over its barriers, the no trespassing sign,
sat with our legs dangling over but hugging the round cylinder iron guardrails
laughing with one another as the brown and white foam curled far beneath us.
For many years I thought if I ever had a child I would
name them Song, river, but in my language
which makes the word sound like
a song.
So I did.
And she does.
Just this past year I learned of Bdote,
the concentration camps now a green field.
In a canoe, my daughter and a teacher
slowly sliced our way across its green gray skin
we three floating in history
water to some, blood to others
a part of everything
belonging to no one

june 11/SWIM

.85 miles/1500 yards
1 loop + extra
lake nokomis
60 degrees (air) 68 degrees (water)

Open swim! Open swim! Open swim! Finally, open swim has started. Tonight it was a little windy, overcast and cool. I was nervous, wondering if I would be able to see the buoys. Almost didn’t come because it was cold and we were going to a twins game later. It was great. I wore my wetsuit and saw the buoys–not all the time but enough. I think I’m getting better at swimming without seeing them. It felt great to be swimming across the lake again. Out in the middle, the water was dark, but in the beach area it was clear enough that I could see the bottom. Cool. I only swam one loop (with an extra trip out and back to the first buoy) because we were going to the game and because it was extra choppy heading back into the big beach and I was tired.

Anything else I remember? The water wasn’t too cold. My wetsuit squeaked a few times. I got routed by a breast stroker. The water temperature was warmer than the air.

june 10/RUN

4.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
68 degrees

Slightly cooler this morning. A better run. Still struggled to keep going but I made it over 3 miles without stopping to walk for a minute. Then I ran again for the rest of the way. Didn’t see the Man in Black or the Daily Walker but I did encounter some roller skiers, walkers, bikers, and a person I met early in the spring who identified as trans but wasn’t yet ready to be out–pretty sure they didn’t remember me but I remember them because of their two dogs and the stories they told (then and again today) about 2 sisters who had run marathons in Amsterdam and were now training for an Ironman. Payed close attention to the part of the path I’m writing about right now and noticed the streaks of sun on the asphalt, making leaf shadows–I had imagined most of the light to be lost in this extra green-y tunnel of trees. Maybe in August it will be darker?

Felt like I was in a daze, running in the soft green light. Everything was slightly out of focus. Listened to the road and the river and the trees instead of an audio book or a playlist. Heard lots of cars gently rushing by. Might have also heard some rowers at one point, but didn’t see them. The river is mostly hidden behind layers of green now. Chanted in triplets to myself to keep my rhythm: raspberry/blueberry/strawberry, 4 way stop, split rail fence, railroad bridge, 2 oak trees, garbage can (I turned everything I saw into triplets). Then I thought about how the new trash and recycling cans Minneapolis Parks got for the path look a lot like early Star Wars droids–the ones from 1978. Can I work that into a poem? And am I the only way that thinks this?

Perhaps the most memorable thing I heard was a version of “ain’t misbehaving” coming from a bike radio that passed me from behind. I could hear the music clearly until he was too far away. Why no doppler distortion? Was it because of the wind? The speed of his biking?

Lakes Rivers Streams/Michael Dickman

This poem! Too long to include it all. So long and fabulous and strange! Here are a few lines I especially like:

At the same time spring pushes up against the windows
a green screen

And sleep

Pooled at the top of the stairs

Just upstream from a cell tower and a box of  Huggies

Just upstream from a can of  Red Bull and a pollen allergy

The cool floors of grocery stores

Just upstream from a pair of headphones and a Weight Watchers

Chirrup-chirrup my tree makes syrup
syrup so sweet

Upstream from a can of Aqua Net and a Pepsi

Bees in the lilac tree have something to say and say it without giving
away the ending

Just upstream from a gallon of  2% and a yellow pack of American
Spirits

Just upstream from a buffet-style weekend special and some notable
losses

june 9/RUN

3.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
68 degrees
70% humidity

Felt warm this morning. Decided to listen to the gorge instead of an audio book. Nice. I should do this more often. Greeted every welcoming oak with a “good morning!” or “hello friend!” Glimpsed the sun sparkling on the river through the trees above the floodplain forest. Passed a few rowers walking down to the rowing club–will I get to see (or hear) them rowing later in my run? (no) Made it to the railroad trestle and stopped to walk for a minute. So hot! So tired! Felt wiped out–I think I need to eat a big breakfast before my runs (I didn’t eat anything this morning). The highlight of the run–probably the month so far–was not just greeting but talking to the Daily Walker! I was walking at the time and he said, “you’re walking?” When I said it was so hot he agreed and we talked for a few seconds more. I think this is the first time I have actually talked to him. Pretty cool. Everyone of my runs was tough this week but I don’t care that much. Still great to be outside and be beside the mississippi.

Almost forgot to mention something I noticed yesterday and today: The cotton from the cottonwood tree is not white, at least not once it hits the ground. It looks green to me–a pale green–willow perhaps? Is it green or is it my vision or a trick of the light or its close proximity to the grass and so many green leaves?

So much green. I’m always looking for green poems and I’ve found a few. Here’s another one to add to the list:

Green/Maggie Nelson

Screams from an Italian family up the street
That stupid kid hitting rock after rock with his metal bat.

I’d be a shitty boyfriend, you said, as if
making a promise. I said, It’s not the content

I’m in love with, it’s the form. And that
was tenderness. All last year

I planned to write a book about
the color blue. Now I’m suddenly surrounded

by green, green gagging me
pleasurably, green holding onto my hips

from behind, digging into
the cleft, the cleft

that can be made. You have no idea
what kind of light you’ll let in

when you drop the bowl, no idea
what will make you full

Also found this useful article about green in poetry.

june 8/RUN

3.25 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
72 degrees

Another warm morning when it was difficult to breathe. Stopped to walk for 1 or 2 minutes at 2.5 miles, then finished strong. This summer I don’t care if I have to walk. More opportunity to check out the gorge. Listened to my audio book because I’m enjoying it (and trying to finish it). Encountered a lot of runners on the path. Saw the Daily Walker but wasn’t able to greet him. No Man in Black. I think I heard the rowers but I’m not sure because I was listening to my book. Noticed my shadow a few times. Saw 2! groups of rollerbladers, a group of 5 and a group of 7 or 8, zooming down the path gracefully. Love watching them fly by with their rhythmic arms.

Morningside Heights, July
BY WILLIAM MATTHEWS

Haze. Three student violists boarding
a bus. A clatter of jackhammers.
Granular light. A film of sweat for primer
and the heat for a coat of paint.
A man and a woman on a bench:
she tells him he must be psychic,
for how else could he sense, even before she knew,
that she’d need to call it off? A bicyclist
fumes by with a coach’s whistle clamped
hard between his teeth, shrilling like a teakettle
on the boil. I never meant, she says.
But I thought, he replies. Two cabs almost
collide; someone yells fuck in Farsi.
I’m sorry, she says. The comforts
of loneliness fall in like a bad platoon.
The sky blurs—there’s a storm coming
up or down. A lank cat slinks liquidly
around a corner. How familiar
it feels to feel strange, hollower
than a bassoon. A rill of chill air
in the leaves. A car alarm. Hail.

I know I’ve read this poem before but I don’t think I’ve posted it. I love how it seems like simple reporting of the mundane but offers much more. Some great lines–sweat as primer, heat as the coat of paint. The rill of chill, the lank cat slinking, the couple on the bench interrupting the scene repeatedly, the coming storm–literally and metaphorically, the hollow bassoon. So good! I want to try to write a poem like this about my neighborhood.

june 7/RUN

2.75
mississippi river upper path, south/lower path, north
84 degrees

Ugh, this heat. I have a lot of trouble running when it’s this hot. Listened to my audio book and tried to take it nice and slow. Ran above on the way to the falls and down below on the way back. Don’t remember much except for being hot.

Earlier this morning, I took Delia the dog for a walk to the gorge. On the lower path to the left, past the big sewer drain, below the path with the Welcoming Oaks. Kept going to the part of the running path that dips below the road. Before heading down, stopped at the top and studied the two boulders. 4 small stones make up the cairn perched on the taller rock. No plaque on this rock. How long has it been here? The boulders rested beneath a sprawling oak tree with a branch that bent down to greet me. The leaves were perfect forms of the classic oak leaf–like the cartoon versions I used to see at my elementary school in Northern Virginia–Oak Hill Elementary. Walking down into the tunnel of trees, there was so much cotton in the air and on the edge of the path. I realized, this doesn’t look like snow but feathers, like someone was in the midst of a big pillow fight or a goose had flown off in a hurry or a seam from my winter coat had ripped and spilled out the feathery lining. The fuzzy white cotton softened the rough edges of the path and decorated the dirt patches in the grass.

june 6/RUNSWIM

3.1 miles
railroad trestle and back
75 degrees

So hot and hard to breathe! Not sure if it’s all the cottonwood flying but I had a lot of trouble breathing. Time to start running earlier–good thing school ends for the kids tomorrow. Listened to my audio book as I ran, so I don’t remember much–except it was hot, I was sweating a lot and my throat needed to be cleared all the time. Came close to tripping over a dog.

Stopped running at the spot I’m trying to write a haibun about. 4 fences–wrought-iron, stone retaining wall, wood retaining wall, split rail. These fences stand at the start of the ascent into the tunnel of trees. Noticed some small maples (I think) on the edge of the path. Not sure what the other trees are. I did see some broad leaves with jagged edges. What are those? At the beginning, the slope isn’t too steep or high but it gets steeper and higher and darker and narrower as you climb. Wondered why this not so steep spot was the place where a wrought iron fence was placed when there are much steeper spots farther up and decided it was for the cars coming around a curve up above. Not sure if that’s correct. Did a car crash through the split rail here too as some point? In the winter, when this lower path is not cleared and I have to run above on the biking path, I sometimes worry that a car might slip on ice, slide up on the path and hit me. At the end of the tunnel of trees and almost the top of the hill are too boulders (I need to go back and study them some more) and a welcoming oak tree. On top of the taller rock is a cairn of 3 or 4 rocks stacked on top of each other. Who put them there? I think I first noticed them last year. At the top of the hill, is a porta potty, a parking lot, an overlook, some benches, more boulders and the welcoming oaks.

Breathe. As in. (shadow)
Rosamond S. King

Breathe
. As in what if
the shadow is gold
en? Breathe. As in
hale assuming
exhale. Imagine
that. As in first
person singular. Homonym
:eye. As in subject. As
in centeroftheworld as in
mundane. The opposite of spectacle
spectacular. This is just us
breathing. Imagine
normalized respite
gold in shadows
. You have the
right to breathe and remain
. Imagine
that
.

swim: 1000 yards
lake nokomis

More shafts of light. Such a cool effect. Tons of cottonwood on the water surface (and in my suit after I got out of the lake and took a shower). A few strange floating objects–wood or something else? The sun was creating this weird red tint effect on everything. I think I saw a few fish swimming below me and another swimmer next to me. Lots of boats encroaching on the designated swimming area. Nearing the shore, swimming inside the wading area, the water was clearer and I could see the bottom. Really cool. I didn’t see all the things on the bottom, like hairbands, but just where the bottom began.

june 5/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis and back
swim: 1050 yards/.6 miles
lake nokomis

Back again at the beach today. Only one small, puffy cloud, the rest of the sky was a bright, blameless blue. Lots of people at the lake but not many in the water. I didn’t think it was too cold–I wonder what the temperature is right now? Whatever it is, I didn’t need a wetsuit and I wasn’t freezing after I got out of the water. Did 3 big loops without stopping and then, after a quick break, one more loop. Maybe a mile is only 6 loops?

The water was turgid and light brown with several shafts of paler brown light beaming down from above. A cool effect. A few times I saw some silver flashes below me. Big fish? Every swim right outside the big beach is tinged with mide trepidation–what’s below me? and what if it decides to surface? Planes heading to MSP Airport roared overhead. Was able to mostly spot the smallish, vertical white buoys. I think I’ll practice more sighting (and not panicking when I can’t sight) tomorrow. Feels good to be in the water again. Hopefully I can keep up my goal of swimming almost every day.

In honor of the fish I may or may not have seen but certainly swam above, here’s Elizabeth Bishop’s classic and marvelous poem:

The Fish
Elizabeth Bishop – 1911-1979

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn’t fight.
He hadn’t fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
—the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly—
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
—It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
—if you could call it a lip—
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels—until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

june 4/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.5 miles
to lake nokomis and back
swim: 1000 yards/.57 miles
lake nokomis main beach

Yes! Summer is here. My first real swim of the year at Lake Nokomis. Thought about doing a mile but since I haven’t swam since October, I thought I’d better take it easy. I did 5 loops in my wetsuit which I don’t like wearing because it feels tight and too constricting. But today it was nice in the cold water. The water was not clear at all and a bit choppy. Noticed a few kayaks just outside the swim area. Was able to see the white buoys some of the time. The real test will be when I try to sight the orange buoy a week from today. I’d like to go swimming as many as I can before that. My goal is to regularly do at least 10 loops.

Don’t remember thinking about much except for whether or not my legs were cramping up or if water was getting in my ear or if there were any fish below me or boats approaching or how my yellow backpack was doing propped up against the big light post. A few times the waves in the water looked like other swimmers.

Swimming/Sarah Arvio

“Our relationship to you is the same as
that between abstraction and metaphor,
between the idea of a clear lake

and the citing of the lake to describe
the clear idea,” one said with a laugh.
Oh, I said then, what a fine idea

and now what lake will embody its fact?
And this: Aren’t we tired of comparisons
to the natural world? Then this: “And what

world isn’t natural?” “Only the world
of the mind is unnatural.” And this:
“It defies nature and defines nature

and won’t be defined. The life of the mind.”
“But its death“ one punned: “Perish the thought.”
“In the deep all these questions sink away,

and only the swimming matters: water
sliding around the head and heart and hip,
arms cresting and curving, with not against;

carried along on the roll and the rush,
a good swimming knows water won’t resist,
swift or even slow but yes, effortless.”

“Are these words merely pretty? No, my dear.
Water is the principle of pleasure
and of pain, the receiver of the touch,

for the cells and tissues are waterbound.”
With the splash of a smile one turned to me:
“What bodies do we choose? A glacial lake,

cold as ice, aqua-blue and vaporing,
on which one red leaf is a gash of joy,
a sultry southern sea warm as a bath

and carrying its weight in liquid salt.
We covet water through which light will ride
and you, my dear…” Here his words drifted off.

june 3/RUN

2.9 miles
north to railroad bridge/stairs to path below/white sands/rowing club/upper path
68 degrees

My legs are sore today. Partly because it’s my third day in a row running and partly because I decided to start runner’s world’s squat challenge this morning (since my lower back has been bugging me intermittently for the past 6 months, I’m always looking for ways to strengthen it). Decided to listen to my audio book and run past the part of the path above the floodplain forest and towards the railroad trestle. Noticed right away that it was hard to breathe–the cottonwood trees are snowing cotton. The edges of the path were a soft white and little bits of fuzz floated in the air in front of me.

Ran to the railroad trestle and felt wiped out. Took the steps down below and walked the Winchell trail, halfway up the gorge. Beautiful! I was a bit uneasy because after seeing no one but one man, I looked up at the sides of the limestone gorge and realized, in all the green, how hidden I was and how steep any path out would be. No steps leading up. No winding dirt trail. But my unease wasn’t too bad. I started running and caught quick glimpses of the river through the breaks in the tree line. Made it to the Minneapolis Rowing Club and walked up the steep driveway. Started running again and kept going until I returned to my favorite part of the run: where the walking path dips below the road and follows the edge of the bluff right above the floodplain forest.

I stopped on the edge to look down at the forest and noticed that I was in the midst of three fences: a wrought iron fence on the edge of the hill, a stone retaining wall dividing the lower walking path from the upper biking path, and a split rail fence above the wall beside the biking path. So cool to have all 3 fences here, especially since I’ve been wanting to write about this section and about the different types of fences on this route.

The other thing I noticed as I walked up, along the edge, was how green everything was. Different shades (or tints?) of green covering the ground, blotting out the sky. No river, no sky, no forest floor. Only green with the occasional brown trunk or branch. Disorienting, but really cool. At this part, the footpath is flanked on both sides with green–a tunnel of trees, with a smallish circle of light up the hill (the opposite direction of this picture), leading out to 2 big boulders and a porta potty at the northern edge of the 35th street parking lot.

The Prose Poem
Campbell McGrath

On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of wildflowers and bracken. There is no fence, though here and there a weathered post asserts a former claim, strands of fallen wire taken by the dust. To the left a cornfield carries into the distance, dips and rises to the blue sky, a rolling plain of green and healthy plants aligned in close order, row upon row upon row. To the right, a field of wheat, a field of hay, young grasses breaking the soil, filling their allotted land with the rich, slow-waving spectacle of their grain. As for the farmers, they are, for the most part, indistinguishable: here the tractor is red, there yellow; here a pair of dirty hands, there a pair of dirty hands. They are cultivators of the soil. They grow crops by pattern, by acre, by foresight, by habit. What corn is to one, wheat is to the other, and though to some eyes the similarities outweigh the differences it would be as unthinkable for the second to commence planting corn as for the first to switch over to wheat. What happens in the gully between them is no concern of theirs, they say, so long as the plough stays out, the weeds stay in the ditch where they belong, though anyone would notice the wind-sewn cornstalks poking up their shaggy ears like young lovers run off into the bushes, and the kinship of these wild grasses with those the farmer cultivates is too obvious to mention, sage and dun-colored stalks hanging their noble heads, hoarding exotic burrs and seeds, and yet it is neither corn nor wheat that truly flourishes there, nor some jackalopian hybrid of the two. What grows in that place is possessed of a beauty all its own, ramshackle and unexpected, even in winter, when the wind hangs icicles from the skeletons of briars and small tracks cross the snow in search of forgotten grain; in the spring the little trickle of water swells to welcome frogs and minnows, a muskrat, a family of turtles, nesting doves in the verdant grass; in summer it is a thoroughfare for raccoons and opossums, field mice, swallows and black birds, migrating egrets, a passing fox; in autumn the geese avoid its abundance, seeking out windrows of toppled stalks, fatter grain more quickly discerned, more easily digested. Of those that travel the local road, few pay that fertile hollow any mind, even those with an eye for what blossoms, vetch and timothy, early forsythia, the fatted calf in the fallow field, the rabbit running for cover, the hawk’s descent from the lightning-struck tree. You’ve passed this way yourself many times, and can tell me, if you would, do the formal fields end where the valley begins, or does everything that surrounds us emerge from its embrace?