jan 20/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 2.1 miles
treadmill

Too cold, too windy. Another basement workout, which doesn’t bother me. I did this one in the late afternoon, too late to write my entry right after I finished, so I’m writing this 2 days later. I can’t remember much about the workout. I think I watched another Women’s Spartan race while I biked, and listened to a playlist while I ran. Felt pretty good running. Our treadmill developed some quirks last year: it won’t start moving until you get the speed up past 2, and it seems to increase exponentially, where 2 is much slower than 3, and 5 is much faster than 4. I keep it at 5 (before it got strange, I usually had it between 6 and 6.5), and that’s fast enough for me. I’ve decided that for me at least, 5 = a 9:45 pace.

jan 19/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 2.1 miles
treadmill

Watched the Spartan Women’s World Championships in Abu Dhabi while I biked. I just discovered these races the other day, and I’m hooked. I don’t think I’d ever want to do one, but they’re fun to watch. This one took place in the desert, on the “world’s largest sand dune” (according to the announcer). They ran up soft sand so steep that they weren’t running, but crawling on their hands and knees. They climbed 8 ft walls, swung on monkey bars, lept over fire (right before the finish), carried heavy sandbags, and threw a spear at a target. The penalty for missing? 30 burpies. Some of the footage came from drones, and some of it came from some dude running behind or beside them, holding a small camera. Pretty sweet. Sometimes, I could see his shadow, and sometimes I could hear him breathing heavily. The women in these races are such badasses. They made it almost look easy.

Right before I started running, I listened to another haunt poem I wrote yesterday and today. I wanted to think about it while I ran. It worked; I had a few good ideas while on the treadmill, including one about pairing the poem I just wrote that begins

Before I
was ghost

I was girl

with

Before I
was girl

I was ghost

Poem one is about my badass, soccer-loving, fearless 8 year old self. Poem two will be about inheriting cone dystrophy from a past relative (the scramble in the DNA is the ghost).

Just discovered Brigit Pegeen Kelly this morning while reading through twitter. In a twitter thread about poets who create their own fables, the poet BPK was mentioned. I wondered who that was, and decided to look it up. Awesome. Here’s one of her poems:

Song/ Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Listen: there was a goat’s head hanging by ropes in a tree.
All night it hung there and sang. And those who heard it
Felt a hurt in their hearts and thought they were hearing
The song of a night bird. They sat up in their beds, and then
They lay back down again. In the night wind, the goat’s head
Swayed back and forth, and from far off it shone faintly
The way the moonlight shone on the train track miles away
Beside which the goat’s headless body lay. Some boys
Had hacked its head off. It was harder work than they had imagined.
The goat cried like a man and struggled hard. But they
Finished the job. They hung the bleeding head by the school
And then ran off into the darkness that seems to hide everything.
The head hung in the tree. The body lay by the tracks.
The head called to the body. The body to the head.
They missed each other. The missing grew large between them,
Until it pulled the heart right out of the body, until
The drawn heart flew toward the head, flew as a bird flies
Back to its cage and the familiar perch from which it trills.
Then the heart sang in the head, softly at first and then louder,
Sang long and low until the morning light came up over
The school and over the tree, and then the singing stopped….
The goat had belonged to a small girl. She named
The goat Broken Thorn Sweet Blackberry, named it after
The night’s bush of stars, because the goat’s silky hair
Was dark as well water, because it had eyes like wild fruit.
The girl lived near a high railroad track. At night
She heard the trains passing, the sweet sound of the train’s horn
Pouring softly over her bed, and each morning she woke
To give the bleating goat his pail of warm milk. She sang
Him songs about girls with ropes and cooks in boats.
She brushed him with a stiff brush. She dreamed daily
That he grew bigger, and he did. She thought her dreaming
Made it so. But one night the girl didn’t hear the train’s horn,
And the next morning she woke to an empty yard. The goat
Was gone. Everything looked strange. It was as if a storm
Had passed through while she slept, wind and stones, rain
Stripping the branches of fruit. She knew that someone
Had stolen the goat and that he had come to harm. She called
To him. All morning and into the afternoon, she called
And called. She walked and walked. In her chest a bad feeling
Like the feeling of the stones gouging the soft undersides
Of her bare feet. Then somebody found the goat’s body
By the high tracks, the flies already filling their soft bottles
At the goat’s torn neck. Then somebody found the head
Hanging in a tree by the school. They hurried to take
These things away so that the girl would not see them.
They hurried to raise money to buy the girl another goat.
They hurried to find the boys who had done this, to hear
Them say it was a joke, a joke, it was nothing but a joke….
But listen: here is the point. The boys thought to have
Their fun and be done with it. It was harder work than they
Had imagined, this silly sacrifice, but they finished the job,
Whistling as they washed their large hands in the dark.
What they didn’t know was that the goat’s head was already
Singing behind them in the tree. What they didn’t know
Was that the goat’s head would go on singing, just for them,
Long after the ropes were down, and that they would learn to listen,
Pail after pail, stroke after patient stroke. They would
Wake in the night thinking they heard the wind in the trees
Or a night bird, but their hearts beating harder. There
Would be a whistle, a hum, a high murmur, and, at last, a song,
The low song a lost boy sings remembering his mother’s call.
Not a cruel song, no, no, not cruel at all. This song
Is sweet. It is sweet. The heart dies of this sweetness.

jan 18/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
34! degrees
35% snow-covered

Sun! Above freezing temperature! Shadows! A great afternoon for a run, even if there were huge puddles, some soft snow, and a few slick spots. My left knee/hip hurts a little, but I decided to go run anyway because tomorrow it will be very cold. -2 (feels like -22) at 9am. Future Sara would be very upset with present Sara if she had not taken advantage of this weather. No headphones running south, then a playlist on the way back.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a lot of the path was clear, with big puddles, but a few stretches, like on the double bridge or under the ford bridge, were still covered in grayish-white, gloppy snow
  2. someone was running below me on the Winchell Trail. We were parallel for a minute, but I was slightly faster, so we got out of sync
  3. someone else was running, with a dog, on the walking side of the pedestrian bridge, through the deeper, unplowed snow
  4. the falls were frozen — one tall column of ice with a dark hole in the middle
  5. at least 3 or 4 bikes, some of them were fat tires
  6. the river: all white, covered over with snow, no holes today, no sparkle either
  7. some dogs barking below, in the gorge
  8. they must have plowed the main roads earlier today; all of the entrances to the path/sidewalks were obstructed with short mounds of snow
  9. no geese, no turkeys, no crows, maybe a woodpecker
  10. forgot to take note of the sky while I was running, but earlier on my walk with Delia, I noticed it was bright blue with a few puffy clouds

Before I went out for my run, I thought about continuing my haunts poems, maybe adding some more to the sequence. A line popped in my head that I intended to think about as I ran, but forgot:

Before I
was ghost

I was girl,
fiercely

physical,
solid.

I really like this, but I’m not sure what to do with it yet.

study the masters/ Lucille Clifton

like my aunt timmie.
it was her iron,
or one like hers,
that smoothed the sheets
the master poet slept on.
home or hotel, what matters is
he lay himself down on her handiwork
and dreamed. she dreamed too, words:
some cherokee, some masai and some
huge and particular as hope.
if you had heard her
chanting as she ironed
you would understand form and line
and discipline and order and
america.

jan 17/RUN

5.5 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
22 degrees / feels like 15
75% snow-covered

Looking forward to the day when the pavement is bare again. It’s supposed to be above freezing tomorrow, so maybe it will melt? Even with the soft, slippery snow, it was a good run. Felt really strong and relaxed all the way through the turn around. Running up the franklin hill was hard, but I forced myself to keep going until I reached the bridge. Then I walked for a few minutes and put in my headphones. Then I ran the rest of the way. Wore the right number of layers for the weather (2 tights, 1 pair of socks, tank top, green long sleeve shirt, pink cotton jacket, black vest, buff, 2 pairs of gloves, black hat), although the hat got a little warm. Taking the hat off, at the end of my run, my ponytail was soaked. Later, when I took the ponytail holder out, I sprayed water all over the floor. Gross, I guess. Scott asked: “Was that sweat?” Yep.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. right before starting my run, looking north on my street, the sidewalk was stretched out in a straight line for blocks, almost completely clear
  2. the tight crunch of salt or ice-melt on the sidewalk in front of the church as I ran over it
  3. the short stretch of sidewalk on the north side of lake street that leads over to trail was in rough shape: soft, sloppy, uneven
  4. chirping birds, sounding like spring
  5. everything looking like static, not quite staying still, except for the tree trunk which looked solid and very brown
  6. everything also looking sepia-toned. Is it because of all the brown trunks?
  7. a single crow cawing nearby
  8. the river, 1: mostly white, with small holes of open water
  9. the river, 2: under the bridge, open with gray water
  10. the river, 3: down in the flats, just past the franklin bridge, I was closer to the water and the many spots where the ice/snow had cracked, everything still, not calm but desolate or abandoned

Hearing the single crow cawing, reminded me of an Arthur Sze poem I read this morning:

Fauve/ Arthur Sze in Dazzled

Caw Caw, Caw Caw Caw.
To comprehend a crow
you must have a crow’s mind.
To be the night rain,
silver, on black leaves,
you must live in the
shine and wet. Some people
drift in their lives:
green-gold plankton,
phosphorescent, in the sea.
Others slash: a knife
at a yellow window shade
tears open the light.
But to live digging deep
is to feel the blood
in your rage as rivers,
is to feel love and hatred
as fibers of a rope,
is to catch the scent
of a wolf, and turn wild.

The word, fauve, sounded familiar, but I had to look it up. It means vivid colors, and refers to the movement of painters, including Matisse, and “their unconventional use of intensely vivid color, and free treatment of form” (Merriam-Webster).

fauves = wild beasts
vivid colors express intense emotions

I’m thinking about Fauvism (the little bit I understand of it), and its intense, vivid, sharp, striking colors. One blog post I read, contrasted Monet’s dreamy, subdued Houses of Parliament with Derain’s Charring Cross Bridge and his “lurid greens” and yellows. It is difficult for me to see intense colors. I was noticing earlier today that sometimes it helps to look off to the side. In general, I see the world, more like Monet’s dream. What does this have to do with Sze’s poem? Not sure, but it connects. I’ll need to think about it some more.

jan 15/RUN

4.4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
10 degrees / feels like 1
100% snow-covered

Cold, but not cold enough to freeze snot, sunny. Lots of birds singing: some chickadees, cardinals (I think?). The shadows were sharp, strong. I noticed them heading south: the shadows of a sign, then a fence post. Heading north, my shadow, beside me. The path was covered in snow, some parts of it tamped down, others loose and soft. Hard work. Happy to be outside, remembering how much I love the snow, how it connects me to my north woods roots.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. at least a dozen people walking around the falls, some of them up above, a few below, 2 walking across the frozen creek
  2. the river, heading south: such a bright white, glowing, shining, blinding
  3. lots of people on the Winchell Trail — the trees were so bare that I could see them clearly: someone with a dog, later someone in a bright orange or red jacket
  4. the Winchell Trail between 42nd and 44th was hidden by snow
  5. a sharp, loud bark from a dog somewhere below me, way down by the river?
  6. 1 or 2 fat tires
  7. a man talking on a bluetooth headset, just exiting the walking part of the double bridge
  8. A guy walking a dog, carrying a kid in a backpack
  9. the sky, bright blue, cloudless
  10. the river, heading north: flat, dull, looking more like a white field

Found these on Couplet Poetry:

Ekphrasis as Eye Test/ Jane Zwart

If you wake to a Rothko where the windows
should be, to the dark wearing an indistinct belt
between uneven sashes of glass, one oxblood
shoe-polish, one midnight blue, the problem
is refraction. The light–what little outruns
the dark–has turned its ankle on the retina,
bouncing false on a trampoline inside your eye.

Of course some afflictions also disappear in the dark,
which swallows the man whole. At night a Reinhardt,
in day the fellow’s fifty-year-old face is a Rembrandt,
an oval of flesh glaucoma vignettes; blindness
likes to lick the outskirts of likeness first.

Other losses begin in the middle of the field:
redacting the kiss at a picture’s center–
wrapping lovers’ heads in pillow slips; hovering doves
at eye level anywhere hatted men stand.
They could be anyone, the strangers Magritte painted
almost as their mothers, maculas wasted, would see them.

But usually the picture dims proportionally, cataracts
stirring gray into haystacks and ground and dust-ruffle
sky. Maybe you will finally understand Monet, his play
in thirty acts, his slow lowering of the lights in Giverny.
At last there is nothing left to squint against.

Ekphrasis as Eye-Test/ Amit Majmudar

Ecstasy is not to see a stranger’s vision but to say it,
Echolocating, in your own voice’s
Existential mirror,
Ecstasy.

Ecstasy means to stand outside the
Ecstatic moment itself. You have to
Ache toward the vision whose
Ekphrasis

Awakens phrases in you that dead
Reckon the unseen by way of the seen.
Echo-shaped, you take on the vision’s
Edges, take an

Axe to the lake that froze around your legs
Decades ago. The eye that
Examines is your self. The stranger’s vision you
Recreate through

Ekphrasis
Expresses through
Ecstasy
Ecstasy.

jan 14/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turnaround
16 degrees / feels like 4
snowing
100% snow-covered, at least an inch of loose snow

Snowing all day today. Usually, I wait until it stops and the trails have been plowed before I go out for a run, but not today. Decided to dig out my oldest yak trak and run through the snow. Loved it! A few parts weren’t fun: the wind blowing sharp shards of snow on my face, into my eyes, how slick and soft and difficult it was to run through. The rest of it was great. Quiet, calm, dreamy.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the regular, Santa Claus, bundled up in a bright orange jacket, with black running tights
  2. a fat tire, their light cutting through the grayish white
  3. almost everything looked soft, blanketed in snow; many things felt hard, sharp pellets of icy snow stinging my face
  4. a car disappearing into the falling snow, near the trestle
  5. a runner in glowing yellow
  6. geese overhead, honking
  7. impatient chickadees, their fee bee calls overlapping
  8. the river: a lot of white, with streaks of dark, open water
  9. 4 people emerging from the forest below, crossing the river road
  10. running on the road, at the end, mesmerized by the endless, blank white beneath me, feeling like I was running in place, or running through nothing, or not moving, just suspended in white

Time for another Chang/Merwin combo. I love this chance to reflect on Victoria Chang’s short poems, and be introduced to more of W.S. Merwin’s work. Today’s pairing starts with Chang’s “Daylight.” I couldn’t find a poem by Merwin with that exact title, so I settled for “The Wings of Daylight.” Is it the poem Chang is referencing? Not sure.

Daylight/ Victoria Chang

One by one, days died,
even they weren’t protected.
They have no symptoms
but keep dying. They want to
fix melancholy,
to keep coming back to no
answers, to take the
depositions of orchards.

The Wings of Daylight/ W. S. Merwin

Brightness appears showing us everything
it reveals the splendors it calls everything
but shows it to each of us alone
and only once and only to look at
not to touch or hold in our shadows
what we see is never what we touch
what we take turns out to be something else
what we see that one time departs untouched
while other shadows gather around us
the world’s shadows mingle with our own
we had forgotten them but they know us
they remember us as we always were
they were at home here before the first came
everything will leave us except the shadows
but the shadows carry the whole story
at first daybreak they open their long wings

jan 12/RUN

4.45 miles
minneahaha falls and back
34 degrees
35% snow-covered

Even warmer today! Less layers, sun. Ran to the falls and back. Running south, no headphones; running, north, a playlist. My left hip/knee/back (the usual suspect) felt sore, but not too bad.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The clicking and clacking of ski poles, the scratching and scuffing of skis on bare pavement: a cross-country skier crossing the road! I think this is the first one I’ve seen this season
  2. Kids laughing and yelling and having fun at the playground across the road
  3. A walker and an unleashed dog on the Winchell Trail below me. For a moment, I thought the dog might be trying to keep up with me
  4. The falls is fully frozen, at least it looks and sounds like it to me. All I saw was a hulking column of ice; all I heard was silence, no gushing or trickling water
  5. Heard the call (not the peck) of a pileated woodpecker, the fee bee of a black-capped chickadee
  6. The path had less snow on it. Some stretches were completely bare, others had wide strips that were clear. Under the ford bridge it was a soft, slushy mess
  7. As I entered the river road trail, I passed someone who had been running, but just stopped. At first I thought she was muttering something under her breath, but then I realized she was breathing heavily, then I heard a voice coming out of her phone, giving her instructions that I couldn’t quite hear. Was she doing a couch to 5k program?
  8. Noticed my shadow ahead of me as I ran south — clear and sharp in the bright sun
  9. Heard the raucous laugh of a walker on the other side of edmund, her voice echoing
  10. one thing I didn’t notice: the river. Again, I forgot to look at it

I think I’ll post more Chang/Merwin poems this month. Here’s another one from Chang that resonated for me:

Separation/ Victoria Chang

Each day, landscape splits
from the beauty it emits.
When nature is free
from sight, it is most
like itself. I erase each
word right after I write it.

Separation/ W. S. Merwin

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

jan 11/RUN

5.6 miles
franklin loop
17 degrees / feels like 0
50% snow-covered

Warm air, warm sun. Another good run. Headed north and decided, at the last minute, to do the Franklin loop. Heard some geese, their honks congregating under the lake street bridge. Maybe some crows too? I know I heard another bird, but I can’t remember now. A black-capped chickadee? Definitely no woodpeckers. Running over the franklin bridge, I studied the river: all white, mostly flat, the edges a silvery shimmer. Later, nearing the trestle, I saw a few bits of black: open water. Encountered some other runners, walkers, at least one fat tire. As I reached the lake street bridge, I came up with a line for a swimming poem that I’m revisiting. I stopped on the bridge to record it into my phone.

Anything else? Most of what happened, what I thought about, got left somewhere out on the trail.

This morning, just as I was leaving for my run, the mail came, bringing the chapbook by Victoria Chang I ordered last week. I think they only made 200+ of them. It’s a small square book, bound with thin red twine. Very cool. I’d like to try making something like this. Titled, Another Lost Year, it is made up of short poems, all with W.S. Merwin titles. So many great ones. Here’s one I especially like. It happens to fall in the very middle of the book, where the red twine is exposed and tied in a knot.

Left Open / Victoria Chang

We can’t see beyond
the crest of the wooden gate.
We are carriers
of grass yet to be grown. We
aren’t made of cells, but of fields.

I like this idea of being a carrier of grass yet to be grown. My first thought was of grass on graves — Whitman’s “uncut hair of graves” or Dickinson’s “The color of the grave is green”. Then I thought of Gwendolyn Brooks’ “To the Young Who Want to Die”:

Graves grow no green that you can use.
Remember, green’s your color. You are Spring.

I like the idea of being made of fields, not cells. Here’s the original Merwin poem:

Left Open / W.S. Merwin

The shutters are rusted open on the north
kitchen window ivy has grown over
the fastenings the casements are hooked open
in the stone frame high above the river
looking out across the tops of plum trees
tangled on their steep slope branches furred
with green moss gray lichens the plums falling
through them and beyond them the ancient
walnut trees standing each alone on its
own shadow in the plowed red field full
of amber September light after so
long unattended dead boughs still hold
places of old seasons high out of the leaves
under which in the still day the first walnuts
from this last summer are starting to fall
beyond the bare limbs the river looks
motionless like the far clouds that were not
there before and will not be there again

jan 9/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 2.4 miles
treadmill
2 degrees / feels like -11

For most of the day, the feels like temp was hovering around -20. I have decided that that is too cold for me. So, I stayed inside. Watched a race while I biked, listened to a playlist and part of the Aack Cast by Jamie Loftus. It’s about the comic strip Cathy and it’s really good.

Some Things I Noticed*

  1. my shadow, flashing, off to my left side, as I ran
  2. in addition to my shadow, some sort of silvery something flashing or streaking or appearing in my left peripheral
  3. the loud whir of the treadmill when I stepped off it to change my playlist (maybe it’s because of my vision, but I cannot pick new music on spotify when I’m in motion). The whirr almost sounded like a plane revving its engine before take off
  4. my fine hair, falling out of my ponytail, felt like a spider web
  5. before I warmed up, it was very cold in the basement
  6. the soft space between beats felt continuous
  7. sometimes my foot strikes were quiet, sometimes they were loud

*It’s difficult to notice things in a boring, dark, unfinished basement, especially when I’m listening to music. Maybe I should try to use my treadmill time for remembering thoughts or ideas?

Found this poem yesterday. Paige Lewis is wonderful, especially how they find delight in small things, and do such strange things with words!

THE MOMENT I SAW A PELICAN DEVOUR/ PAIGE LEWIS

a seagull—wings swallowing wings—I learned
that a miracle is anything that God forgot
to forbid. So when you tell me that saints

are splintered into bone bits smaller than
the freckles on your wrist and that each speck
is sold to the rich, I know to marvel at this

and not the fact that these same saints are still
wholly intact and fresh-faced in their Plexiglas
tomb displays. We holy our own fragments

when we can—trepanation patients wear their
skull spirals as amulets, mothers frame the dried
foreskin of their firstborn, and I’ve seen you

swirl my name on your tongue like a thirst pebble.
Still, I try to hold on to nothing for fear of being
crushed by what can be taken because sometimes

not even our mouths belong to us. Listen, in
the early 1920s, women were paid to paint radium
onto watch dials so that men wouldn’t have to ask

the time in dark alleys. They were told it was safe,
told to lick their brushes into sharp points. These
women painted their nails, their faces, and judged

whose skin shined brightest. They coated their
teeth so their boyfriends could see their bites
with the lights turned down. The miracle here

is not that these women swallowed light. It’s that,
when their skin dissolved and their jaws fell off,
the Radium Corporation claimed they all died

from syphilis. It’s that you’re telling me about
the dull slivers of dead saints, while these
women are glowing beneath our feet.

jan 8/RUN

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
19 degrees / feels like 6
50% snow-covered

Finally, a warmer day. Well, warmer compared to the past 2 days when it was -15, feels like -25! Ran south, into the wind, to the falls. Encountered walkers, fat tires, at least one group of runners taking over the entire path. Felt strong and relaxed and happy to be outside, enjoying the fresh, cold air. At the start of my run, I greeted every runner I encountered by raising my left hand.

10 Things I Noticed: People

  1. A runner in a bright orange jacket and black running tights, running fast. I think I saw him twice, or I saw 2 people at different times wearing bright orange jackets, running fast
  2. 3 people at the falls, near the stairs that descend to the bottom. Person 1: “Are you from around here?” Persons 2 and 3: “St. Paul. You?” Person 1: I couldn’t hear his reply. Persons 2 and 3: “Wow! Welcome!” I’m guessing he was from somewhere far away or interesting or both — maybe a different country?
  3. A fat tire approaching me, then following behind as I turned to enter the park, then passing when I slowed down, and stopping by the stone wall above the falls next to a group of fat tires
  4. A person standing at the far overlook, the one near the short stone wall with Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha” carved on its top, studying the falls
  5. 2 runners approaching me, then turning to run in the parking lot while I ran on the path. We ran in parallel to each other until they turned somewhere
  6. A group of 6 runners, one of them with a dog, running north, spread across the width of the path. After I passed them, I could hear them behind me for a few minutes, chatting away, sounding closer even though they were slowly getting farther away
  7. 2 women walking below me on the snow-covered Winchell Trail
  8. A woman running much slower than me, her jacket open and flapping as she moved
  9. The blur of a runner, moving fast on Edmund
  10. 2 or 3 people stopped near the sidewalk, talking, with 2 dogs, one of them small and yippy. (I crossed to the other side to avoid them)

Omicron update: RJP went to get tested on Tuesday and didn’t get her results until Friday night: negative. Scott and I got alerts on our phones from the COVIDAware app that we had been exposed to someone with COVID on Jan 3-5 and should quarantine for 15! days. RJP didn’t get the alert. A problem: neither of us went anywhere and weren’t around anyone (other than RJP) on those days. Our best guess: someone in our neighbor’s house has it and our bluetooths picked up their phone’s signal while we were in our house. Strange.