43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, south/42nd st, west/edmund, north
dew point: 70
Much warmer this morning. Still managed a 5k without stopping. As I ran down 32nd toward the river I thought about how glad I was that they had closed the road for the sewer work at 32nd instead of 33rd–that way I can run on a long block of the river road without worrying about cars. Then, when I reached the river, I saw that they had moved the road closure ahead to 33rd. No more running on the river road. Bummer.
Was able to run on the trail above the river from 36th to 42nd! Heard some rowers, saw some shining water. Glanced at the empty benches. Don’t remember hearing any birds or crunching on any acorns–they’re covering many of the sidewalks in the neighborhood. No roller skiers or music blasting from bike speakers. No big groups of runners or bikers.
Recited “Push the Button” one time and thought about the constant refrain throughout the poem, “Listen to the…” “Can you hear the…?” I’m curious about how Mort decided which things she wanted us to listen to and which things she wondered if we could hear:
- the lorikeet’s whistling song
- the ground giddy with thirst
- the dog shit on the lawns, murderous water boatmen skimming the green pond
- the casual racists in the family pub
- the house Shiraz I drink as if it’s something’s blood
- my fear, blooming in my chest, and how I water it
- the noisy penguins on the ice
- my late night online purchases
- your half-sister hissing to her friends at 2 am
- the panic in their emojis
- the utter indifference of the stars
- “The Trout” by Schubert
- the blackbird’s chirpy song
- that waltz by Paganini
- the stage as we walk clear off the front of it
Can you hear…?
- the call of the mynah bird
- flamingos in the water
- your small heart next to mine and the house breathing as it holds us
- the chainsaw start
- the roses rioting on the trellis
- the sleepless girls in Attercliffe
- the aspirin of the sun dissolving
- your grandfather’s lost childhood
- the suburban library shutting, the door closing, the books still breathing
- your father lighting his first cigarette
- the foxes mating all the way to oblivion
- me holding you, closer than my life
And two variations on “Can you hear…?”:
O, can you hear the budget tightening?
Can you hear that, Alfie?
I’ll have to study this list some more, I guess, to find a pattern, if there is one. What’s the difference between the command, “listen” and the question, “can you hear?”
Here’s a quick draft of my homage to Mort’s original poem:
Listen to the black capped chickadee’s 2 note song.
Can you hear him posing a question to the gorge?
Can you hear the honking geese overhead?
Can you hear your lungs grasping for air
and the green leaves thickening as they hold us?
Can you hear the chainsaw start, the tight weave
of the savanna’s oak unraveling?
It’s August, thick, crowded. Listen
to the path, cluttered with acorns. Listen
to the sewer stink near the ravine, the sex-crazed
gnats swarming the hill. Can you hear
the virus spreading through the neighborhood?
Can you make a noise like a panicked rabbit? There are
sounds your tweet lacks names for.