may 4/RUN

4 miles
47th ave loop
45 degrees

A little colder today but sunny and not too windy and wonderful. The slight but persistent sinus headache I have had for 3 or 4 days has mostly lifted. The run felt easier, more relaxed. Heard the male black capped chickadee’s feebee song. Did I hear any woodpeckers? I can’t remember. Heard the clickety-clack of a roller skier. Encountered a few walkers and runners and bikers, but at a very safe distance of at least 10 feet or more, I think. Noticed how much thicker the green veil is. Saw the river, blue and shiny. Didn’t even think about looking for turkeys down by the tree graveyard–but Scott did. On his run, a few minutes earlier than me, he stopped and took an awesome video of at least 6 turkeys walking across the road. Gobbling!

Reciting While Running

While I ran, I recited the poem I picked to memorize this week: Ode to My Right Knee by Rita Dove. I came across this poem several years ago when I was looking for poems about knees and I’ve always wanted to spend more time with it. Memorizing and reciting it is a great way to do that.

Ode to My Right Knee/ Rita Dove

Oh, obstreperous one, ornery outside of ordinary

protocols; paramilitary probie par

excellence: Every evidence
you yield yells.

No noise
too tough to tackle, tears

springing such sudden salt
when walking wrenches:

Haranguer, hag, hanger-on—how
much more maddening

insidious imperfection?
Membranes matter-of-factly

corroding, crazed cartilage calmly chipping
away as another arduous ambulation

begins, bone bruising bone.
Leathery Lothario, lone laboring

gladiator grappling, groveling
for favor; fair-weather forecaster, fickle friend,

jive jiggy joint:
Kindly keep kicking.

I love this poem and am very happy I memorized it, which was not that difficult. Am I getting better at memorizing, or did I connect with this poem more than others, or something else? I don’t know. It was fun to become better acquainted with the words. I love the abundant alliteration which doesn’t seem excessive but natural. I’d like to try writing some lines like these. Back in 2018, I wrote an abecedarian about sighting the lake buoys and in one draft I had the line: wondering what will work what won’t when waves warp. I didn’t keep it, but I remember the fun of discovering it.

Today as I recited it over and over again, I thought about the phrase, “fair-weather forecaster” and the surprise of it because “fair-weather friend” is such a common expression that you might anticipate that friend will end that phrase, not forecaster. I also like how well this pithily describes the phenomenon of aching knees as weather vanes. I briefly wondered if reciting lines about cartilage chipping away, membranes corroding, and arduous ambulations was the best idea when I was running–would it give my right knee some bad ideas?–but it was fine and fun and fast. I wonder how many times I repeated the poem?

some words that I was familiar with but didn’t know the precise meanings of:
  • obstreperous: unruly, noisy
  • From Merriam Webster “Obstreperous” comes from ob- “in the way,” “against,” or “toward,” plus strepere, a verb meaning “to make a noise,” so someone who is obstreperous is literally making noise to rebel against something, much like a protesting crowd or an unruly child. 
  • probie: probationary rank, rookie
  • Lothario: a man whose chief interest is in seducing women; a foppish, unscrupulous rake (note: love this second definition!)
    From Merriam Webster: “Lothario comes from The Fair Penitent (1703), a tragedy by Nicholas Rowe. In the play, Lothario is a notorious seducer, extremely attractive but beneath his charming exterior a haughty and unfeeling scoundrel. He seduces Calista, an unfaithful wife and later the fair penitent of the title. After the play was published, the character of Lothario became a stock figure in English literature. For example, Samuel Richardson modeled the character of Lovelace on Lothario in his 1748 novel Clarissa. As the character became well known, his name became progressively more generic, and since the 18th century the word lothario has been used for a foppish, unscrupulous rake.

Towards the end of my run, I tried to recite Carl Phillip’s “And Swept All Visible Signs Away,” but I struggled. I need to make sure and review all the poems I’ve already memorized so I don’t lose their words. How many poems can I keep in my head at one time? Not sure.