june 5/RUN

3.1 miles
2.5 mile loop + extra
62 degrees
humidity: 83%, clouds: none

Sun! Not much wind! Not too many people! A beautiful almost summer morning for a run. Saw my shadow several times. Hello again, friend. Thought I heard some birds–a woodpecker, cardinals, at least one black-capped chickadee. A kid called out to an adult, “look at the runner!” Recited a few lines from Love Song of the Square Root of Negative One and more lines from What Would Root. Steered clear of approaching garbage trucks and bikes. Got a quick glimpse of sparkle–a river sliver. Ran on the river road over clumps of dirt, grass, dead leaves. Yesterday when I ran over the same debris it was dry and made an agreeable crunch and sounded like shredded paper used to cushion objects in a package.

Things here in Minneapolis seem to be settling down–the immediate threat of more violence and destruction could be over, at least for now. Time to return to panic over the pandemic and the inevitable massive spike in cases in the next few weeks. I hope I’m wrong. Such messy feelings about all of this–excitement over the possibility of real change, unwavering belief in the value of people over property, support for many of the extreme actions taken to disrupt normal life and force us to pay attention, fear over the effects of all these public gatherings on the virus, confusion over how/why people seem to be ignoring/forgetting the serious, long term threat of COVID-19. I’m having trouble reconciling my strong belief that these protests/gatherings to collectively share grief and rage were necessary with my equally strong belief that we must socially distance and/or be as careful as we are able to stop the spread of COVID-19. Instead of trying to reconcile these right now, I’ll dwell in the discomfort they create for a while.

Yesterday I posted a Rita Dove poem from the latest issue of POETRY magazine. Today, I’ll post her other poem from that same issue. I love Rita Dove.

Voiceover/ Rita Dove

Impossible to keep a landscape in your head.
Try it: all you’ll get is pieces—the sun
emerging from behind the mountain ridge,
smoke coming off the ice on a thawing lake.
It’s as if our heads can’t contain
anything that vast: it just leaks out.

You can be inside a house and still feel
the rooms you’re not in—kitchen below
and attic above, bedroom down the hall—
but you can’t hold onto the sensation
of being both inside the walls
and outside looking at them
at the same time.

Where do we go with that?
Where does that lead us?

There are spaces for living
and spaces for forgetting.
Sometimes they’re the same.
We walk back and forth without a twitch,
popping a beer, gabbing on the phone,
with only the occasional stubbed toe.

The keyhole sees nothing.
Has it always been blind?

It’s like a dream where a voice whispers,
Open your mouth and you do,
but it’s not your mouth anymore
because now you’re all throat,
a tunnel skewered by air.
So you rewind; and this time
when you open wide, you’re standing
outside your skin, looking down
at the damage, leaning in close …
about to dive back into your body
and then you wake up.

Someone once said: There are no answers,
just interesting questions.
(Which way down? asked the dove,
dropping the olive branch.)

If you think about it,
everything’s inside something else;
everything’s an envelope
inside a package in a case—

and pain knows a way into every crevice.

I want to spend some more time with this poem, thinking about the idea of inside and outside/inner and outer and how we can’t be both at the same time. And, what do I do with that last line?–“pain knows a way into every crevice.” Wow. I’d also like to put it beside a poem by Maria Howe that I discovered last year.

The Affliction/ Maria Howe

When I walked across a room I saw myself walking

as if I were someone else,

when I picked up a fork, when I pulled off a dress,

as if I were in a movie.

                                    It’s what I thought you saw when you looked at me.

So when I looked at you, I didn’t see you

I saw the me I thought you saw, as if I were someone else.

I called that outside—watching. Well I didn’t call it anything

when it happened all the time.

But one morning after I stopped the pills—standing in the kitchen

for one second I was inside looking out.

Then I popped back outside. And saw myself looking.

Would it happen again? It did, a few days later.

My friend Wendy was pulling on her winter coat, standing by the kitchen door

and suddenly I was inside and I saw her.

I looked out from my own eyes

and I saw: her eyes: blue gray    transparent

and inside them: Wendy herself!

Then I was outside again,

and Wendy was saying, Bye-bye, see you soon,

as if Nothing Had Happened.

She hadn’t noticed. She hadn’t known that I’d Been There

for Maybe 40 Seconds,

and that then I was Gone.

She hadn’t noticed that I Hadn’t Been There for Months,

years, the entire time she’d known me.

I needn’t have been embarrassed to have been there for those seconds;

she had not Noticed The Difference.

This happened on and off for weeks,

and then I was looking at my old friend John:

: suddenly I was in: and I saw him,

and he: (and this was almost unbearable)

he saw me see him,

and I saw him see me.

He said something like, You’re going to be ok now,

or, It’s been difficult hasn’t it,

but what he said mattered only a little.

We met—in our mutual gaze—in between

a third place I’d not yet been.