march 7/RUN

3.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
95% snow-covered
16 degrees/feels like 16

Wow, the birds really think it’s spring. So chatty! I guess nobody told them we’re getting a foot of snow this weekend. Didn’t wear my yaktrax, which was a big mistake. The path was extra snowy because the plows had come through again, moving out more snow and making little mountains in the process. Greeted the Daily Walker and a few other runners. The soft, small mounds of snow all over the path made it much harder to move my legs. Listened to a playlist and felt a happy buzz around mile 2. Jamie Quatro’s first layer of the runner’s high (from “Running as Prayer”). I think I only get these highs when I’m listening to music–the ones where I feel intensely euphoric, invincible. Glanced at the river but I can’t remember what it looked like–was it open? I think I heard the geese honking at some point, but it was hard to tell with Fleetwood Mac singing about mountains and getting older and needing to change and snow-covered hills.

clothing layers: black shirt, orange shirt, vest, buff, gloves, visor. A rare occasion of wearing just the right amount of layers.

path layers: the smallest sliver of bare pavement near the lake street bridge, slick ice, hard packed snow, soft not quite settled or compressed snow, snow ledges on the edges of the path, big chunks of old snow, little mounds of snow scattered all around

I’ve been mentioning hearing geese honking a lot lately. Here are 2 very different poems that feature geese:

Wild Geese/mary oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Seasons/John Haag

1

Clouds so thick
they put down
roots

Young aspen
practising
quakers

Incoming geese
Periwinkle sign passports
brings remission with a V
of the blues

Feel the sun
butting the buds
open

Blossoms
Trout lilies nod expand
they know the sky
they know

Lilac
a scent by which
we mark the calendar

Weather report
May? showers
By all means and fresh rainbows
Yes. You May

2

Crickets
ventriloquists
of summer

Loon cries
increase the loneliness
of lakes

It’s untrue
They leave that that bats
to the silence make it darker
of owls

Morning warblers
refresh
the joy of hearing

Comes the hedgehog
And the bumblebee who lives on pins
non-aerodynamic and needles
existentialist

Horses stand
awash
in the setting sun

Anticipate
Nighthawks if you can
swoop the firefly’s flash
gathering the evening

3

Prophetic winds fill
the graveyard
with signposts

Then a scurry
of stormspurred
sparrows

A lamentation of geese
Hummingbird leaves in the early
to cruise dusk
the Carribean

Squirrels
pad
their acorn accounts

Cedar waxwing
Blue jay insists feathered scholar
it’s never too late knows his berries
to scold

Grackle
predicts a turn
for the worse

Flies buzz
in this cast-iron against the chill
autumn pane
stained with rust

4

Fly husks on sills
reflect
the year’s demise

Ptarmigan advises
“kuk-kuk-kuk
go back-goback”

Deer bundle
Coyote lingers in the laurel
to school us thickets
in survival

Fashionable spruce
knows how
to wear snow

Strange angels
Frostfeathers leave their three-D
lace shadows
the cabin glass

Cabin Fever
medicine
runs low

As
Days does
begin the woodpile

Oliver’s “Wild Geese” was one of the first poems I memorized while I was injured 2 summers ago. I still love it. Today is my introduction to John Haag–I did a search on poetry foundation for “geese.” So much fun. They only had one other poem of his online. It’s great too.

march 6/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin hill turn around
95% snow-covered
16 degrees/feels like 5

More sun. Blue sky. Birds chirping. But no snow melting. No bare pavement. No running on the walking path, dipping below the road, above the floodplain forest. Only running on the bike path right by the road. Wasn’t able to greet the Daily Walker because we were both running the same direction. Did get to say “good morning” to the man in black. Wow, he’s tall and lean and friendly. Heard the geese by the railroad trestle. Saw a spazzy squirrel dart across the road and the path. Listened to my vest rustling as I moved. Sounded like a soft brush on a snare drum. Wore my yaktrax again. The path was slick and slushy, making it harder to fly, especially as I ran up the franklin hill. The river was mostly covered with snow but as I neared the franklin bridge, it opened up and I could see gaping black holes. Encountered 2 fat tires and a walker–a woman bundled up with a mask over her mouth. No dogs. No snow blowers or trucks backing up. No cars revving their engines or disembodied voices traveling up from the gorge. I don’t remember thinking about anything as I ran–did I?

layers: green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket, black vest, hood, buff, gloves–which came off around mile 2.

Almost forgot–at some point, it started snowing big fluffy flakes. In my face as I ran south. Running under the interstate bridge I looked up and thought I saw them swirling like static–was it too much sun in my eyes or did they actually look like that? Watched a truck barrel across the interstate and wondered: do they see this staticky snow too? I liked the snow–looking at it, but not when it landed on my eyelashes. By the time I was done running, I think the sun was out again. Can you believe we might get another foot of snow this weekend?

I recently discovered Linda Hogan. She is amazing. Here are two poems from her collection, Rounding the Human Corners:

from Eucalyptus

Some of the religious say the five senses are thieves
so let’s say I am stolen
and like the tree I can lose myself
layer after layer
all the way down to infinity
and that’s when the world has eyes and sees.
The whole world
loves this unlayered human.

The Way In

Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, wounding,
and beauty.
To enter stone, be water.
To rise through hard earth, be plant
desiring sunlight, believing in water.
To enter fire, be dry.
To enter life, be food.

march 5/RUN

3.35 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
10 degrees/feels like -3
100% snow-covered

Cold. Windy. Wonderful! It was tough running straight into the wind on the way out, but it felt great being outside above the gorge. The river is frozen over. The path is still completely covered. Wore my yaktrax today. Imagined that I was tall, strong. Wanted to think about how the cold felt but it was difficult because I had so many layers on.

layers: green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket, gray jacket, 2 pairs of running tights, 2 pairs of socks, buff, hood, visor, mittens, gloves

Didn’t feel the cold. Not even in my fingertips. Just warm. And encumbered by layers. Too many sleeves. Bulky, heavy gloves. A jacket zipped up too high. What will it feel like without the layers? Bare legs? Hopefully in a month or two I’ll get to remember.

Before heading outside, I read the article, Counting Feet: On Running and Poetic Meter. Love the ending line:

both running and poetry are ways of feeling, inside ourselves, that steady beat of being human—the marker that, yes, we are alive, and living, and carrying ourselves forward on ever-moving feet.

I can’t stop thinking about inside/outside and their complicated relationship.

Last night, I read a new poem that I don’t quite understand yet but with which I am enchanted. It’s about salt–which, by the way, is something I can feel right now on my face, caked post run. I am a salty sweater.

Salt
BY HUANG FAN
TRANSLATED BY HUANG FAN AND MARGARET ROSS

Grain by grain, salt’s frozen tears
Help me count history’s disasters
I can’t blame salt for telling food
You’re full of wounds

Salt misses the freedom of the ocean
Remembering waves, salt jumps into a soup
But it finds there only my reflected face
It hides by making itself too soft to chew

Sometimes, salt follows a cold sweat
Waking me from a nightmare
Dreamed blood tastes like salt
As if in human failure lay the silence of God

Having swum in the ocean
Salt considers soup a shallow pond
For salt, every meal is a jail

One day, an extra salty flavor
Makes me cough and cough
It feels like cold fish bones scraping my throat
Maybe it’s salt telling me
I’m going to prison in your body
Don’t ever forget who I am!

Translated from the Chinese

I almost forgot to mention that it was my mom’s birthday. If she were alive, she’d be 77. I imagine she wouldn’t have wanted to run today in this cold and wind, but she might have gone cross country skiing. Oh to be out in the wintery world with her, talking and laughing and admiring the snow decorating the trees!

march 4/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
6 degrees/feels like -3
100% snow-covered

Totally snow-covered path. According to my log, the last time the path was half covered was feb 2 and 0% covered, jan 25. That’s a long time (for me at least) to be running on snow. There’s a possibility of another 7 inches on Saturday. Wow. The run started slow and I felt cold. Right around the time I reached the railroad trestle, when I was planning to run around, I suddenly felt really good. So I kept going for 1/2 mile longer. Heard some geese–and saw them in a flash–somewhere between the lake street bridge and the railroad trestle. Also heard my feet crunching on the path. Watched my shadow. Didn’t see another runner or the Daily Walker. Did see one walker. No fat tires or skiers. Just me and the ice chunks scattered on the side of the path. The other day, when Scott and I were running, we saw a brown mouse unsuccessfully try to scale a mountain–probably 4 feet high–of snow. I wondered what happened to it. It scampered up the side but then fell backwards onto the path.

march 2/RUN

1 mile
mississippi river path, south/north
20 degrees
100% snow-covered

Was planning to run 3 miles with Scott but the path was terrible. Mushy, uneven, slick. Yuck!

From a Window
BY CHRISTIAN WIMAN

Incurable and unbelieving
in any truth but the truth of grieving,

I saw a tree inside a tree
rise kaleidoscopically

as if the leaves had livelier ghosts.
I pressed my face as close

to the pane as I could get
to watch that fitful, fluent spirit

that seemed a single being undefined
or countless beings of one mind

haul its strange cohesion
beyond the limits of my vision

over the house heavenwards.
Of course I knew those leaves were birds.

Of course that old tree stood
exactly as it had and would

(but why should it seem fuller now?)
and though a man’s mind might endow

even a tree with some excess
of life to which a man seems witness,

that life is not the life of men.
And that is where the joy came in.

march 1/RUN

3.35 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
12 degrees/feels like 12 degrees
99% snow-covered

It’s March. Finally. The month of many birthdays.

Dear March – Come in – (1320)
Emily Dickinson, 1830 – 1886

Dear March – Come in –
How glad I am –
I hoped for you before –
Put down your Hat –
You must have walked –
How out of Breath you are –
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest –
Did you leave Nature well –
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me –
I have so much to tell –

I got your Letter, and the Birds –
The Maples never knew that you were coming –
I declare – how Red their Faces grew –
But March, forgive me –
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue –
There was no Purple suitable –
You took it all with you –

Who knocks? That April –
Lock the Door –
I will not be pursued –
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied –
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame –

A wonderful run that helped my mood tremendously. Very gray–one of those pewter mornings that Margaret Atwood mentions in “February.” You could tell snow was coming. It started when I reached the turn around. Big flakes. No sharp daggers. Wore my yaktrax today and it helped. I hardly slipped at all. Still difficult to run in certain stretches where the snow was sloppy. Felt strong and free and grateful to be outside moving. Greeted the Daily Walker and a few other runners. No fat tires. Heard some geese honking near the lake street bridge. They like to congregate there.

from The Black Maria
Aracelis Girmay

Body of sight. Body of
breaths. Body of trying.

Beloved, to
day you eat,
today you bathe, today
you laugh

Today you walk,
today you read,
today you paint, my love,

Today you study stars,
today you write,
today you climb the stairs,

Today you run,
today you see,
today you talk,

You cut the basil
You sweep the floor

& as you chore, touch
the ankles & hairs of your befores
who look up from their work
in the field or at the chisel
to tell you in their ways: You Live!

What a poem! Here’s a blurb about Girmay’s book:

Taking its name from the moon’s dark plains, misidentified as seas by early astronomers, the black maria investigates African diasporic histories, the consequences of racism within American culture, and the question of human identity. Central to this project is a desire to recognize the lives of Eritrean refugees who have been made invisible by years of immigration crisis, refugee status, exile, and resulting statelessness. The recipient of a 2015 Whiting Award for Poetry, Girmay’s newest collection elegizes and celebrates life, while wrestling with the notion of seeing beyond: seeing violence, seeing grace, and seeing each other better.