Shorts weather. Overcast, everything a brassy yellow with brown and gray. A nice run in my new shoes. Cold update: almost gone. Just a thin layer of crud lining the throat, lungs, in the nose. Slighter harder to breathe when running.
Went to Gustavus Adolphus College for FWA’s first fall band concert yesterday. Very cool. I love that he’s attending the same school Scott and I did. It’s so great to go back and remember where my life began. Before the concert we walked around the arboretum/prairie, to a big sculpture of a bison on a small hill. As we walked the mowed grass trail, we saw a “river of birds” above our heads (love this phrase, river of birds, which is how a friend from band that we saw at the concert described it). Thousands of birds flying above us, their wings flapping like thunder. I think they might be starlings or swallows? An amazing thing to witness — the whole sky filled, looking like static. A few times, right above our heads, the birds would split up, with a mass of them flying left of us, another mass flying right.
At some point during my run, I began counting in 3s and doing triple berry chants: strawberry/blueberry/raspberry — raspberry/blackberry/gooseberry. I added in mystery and later: ri/ver/road ri/ver/gorge run/ning/path thir/ty/eighth (for 38th street steps) tres/tle/bridge. I stuck mostly with the meter: stressed/unstressed/unstressed. I should remember what meter this is, but I always forget: is it iambic or anapest. I started chanting those two: an/a/pest — i/am/bic Sometimes An/a/pest, sometimes an/a/Pest I/am/bic i/am/Bic
Just looked it up:
anapest = unstressed unstressed stressed
iambic = stressed unstressed
dactyl = stressed unstressed unstressed
So, it was dactyls, not iambic or anapest. I KNOW I’ve written about this a few years ago, and I’ve reviewed it many times. Will I ever remember? I think I should print it out and put it under the glass on my desk, so I can look at it all the time.
Anyway, as I was thinking about meter and form, I decided that I’d like to use triples — with dactyls and anapests — as the meter (or form?) for another poem about haunting, with the theme of a faint trail, the trace, the worn dirt as path and evidence of others, the residue/remains as offering (poem, an alleluia on the page, Mary Oliver).
Here’s a poem that fits with this idea of what remains (or refuses to die/leave?, that persists, offers up something unexpected or not quite locatable):
Perennials/ Maggie Smith
Let us praise the ghost gardens
of Gary, Detroit, Toledo—abandoned
lots where perennials wake
in competent dirt & frame the absence
of a house. You can hear
the sound of wind, which isn’t
wind at all, but leaves touching.
Wind itself can’t speak. It needs another
to chime against, knock around.
Again & again the wind finds its tongue,
but its tongue lives outside
of its rusted mouth. Forget the wind.
Let us instead praise meadow & ruin,
weeds & wildflowers seeding
years later. Let us praise the girl
who lives in what they call
a transitional neighborhood—
another way of saying not dead?
Or risen from it? Before running
full-speed through the sprinkler’s arc,
she tells her mother, who kneels
in the garden: Pretend I’m racing
someone else. Pretend I’m winning.