dec 30/RUN

3.25 miles
trestle turn around
34 degrees/ snow
15 mph wind/ gusts up to 29 mph
100% snow-covered

Happy Winter Running! Even running straight into the wind and the snow didn’t dull my delight for being outside in the wintery white world. Wow! (too much with the rhyme and alliteration?) These days I don’t mind so much about the wind or the snow as long as the path isn’t too rough and uneven. Today I wore my yaktrax and had no problems running on the snow. There were a lot more people out there than I would have expected. I thought I was the only crazy one who goes out in this. Was it because of the holidays? Was able to say good morning to Dave the Daily Walker at the end of my run–I haven’t seen him in a while. I do not remember looking at the river even once–now I do remember looking down at the river when I got to the trestle but I absolutely don’t remember what I saw.

Observations (or thoughts?)

  1. The snow was wet and heavy and made pock-marks on the sidewalk.
  2. The sharp, wet flakes flew straight at my face coating my vest, turning the black material from dull to slick and shiny.
  3. For a few stretches, I pulled the brim of my baseball cap down as far as it could go to block my face from the sharp, prickly snow. I looked down at my feet and imagined the path in front of me.
  4. The path was covered in footprints and a single track–probably from a bike wheel.
  5. With the snow, I couldn’t see where the path ended and the grass began but I could feel it when my foot stepped off. Softer on the grass and springier too.
  6. Heard but didn’t see geese honking overhead as I ran south. I imagined what it would feel like to be flying so high in the icy wet sky, honking with wild abandon.
  7. Running by, I noticed two people standing at the top of the old stone steps. How long did they stay there? Did the climb over the chain and take the steps down to the river? If they did, who/what did they find?

Before heading out for my run, I listened to a Poetry Off the Shelf podcast episode with Matthew Zapruder. In it, he talks about nothingness (which is also a chapter in his book, Why Poetry):

One way I think about nothing is silence and absence. And I think that poems—people want to talk a lot about the difference between poems and song lyrics. You know, are song lyrics poetry, and I think the lyrics in song take place against the information of music. And they’re in dialogue with that information. But poems are in dialogue with silence. And silence and nothingness and absence are so fundamental to the physical experience of writing and reading poems for me. But nothingness also has a conceptual importance for me as a poet, which is that, you know, language—I mean, even the kind of talking that you and I are doing now—it’s so purpose driven. We want to accomplish things with our language and communicate and exchange. And that’s a beautiful thing, and that’s what language—you know, it’s a miraculous tool in that way. But what happens if you remove all that purpose and functionality from language? If you take it away and there’s a kind of absence or nothingness in your purpose of speaking, what then starts to happen? And I think what happens is poems. Because then language has a chance to move around and be intuitive and make connections and reach for the limits of experience in a way that it can’t do when you’re constantly turning it to a purpose.

I really like thinking about language not having a purpose and about a poem giving language the chance to breathe and move around and not be driven by any one aim.

Erstwhile Harbinger Auspices 

Erstwhile means long time gone.
A harbinger is sent before to help,
and also a sign of things
to come. Like this blue
stapler I bought at Staples.
Did you know in ancient Rome
priests called augurs studied
the future by carefully watching
whether birds were flying
together or alone, making what
honking or beeping noises
in what directions? It was called
the auspices. The air
was thus a huge announcement.
Today it’s completely
transparent, a vase. Inside it
flowers flower. Thus
a little death scent. I have
no master but always wonder,
what is making my master sad?
Maybe I do not know him.
This morning I made extra coffee
for the beloved and covered
the cup with a saucer. Skeleton
I thought, and stay
very still, whatever it was
will soon pass by and be gone.

I have loved the word harbinger ever since I first encountered it in a vocabulary book in a high school english class. I love how this poem makes me wonder why a blue stapler from Staples is a sign of things to come. I love the idea of air being an announcement and that people called augers studied the honks of birds to determine the future. I love when a word can be both a thing and the action that thing does–flowers flower. And I love that it will take me many readings to begin to make sense of this poem.