march 15/RUN

5.75 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
35 degrees
almost invisible streaks of ice

Almost spring! Birds, sun, the smell of fresh earth! The beginning of the run was not as fun; too many invisible slick spots from the barely melted puddles. By the end of the run, the ice was gone. Greeted Dave the Daily Walker twice. Ran down the Franklin hill then back up it, stopping for a few minutes when I encountered some ice. Settled into an easy pace that felt almost effortless. It didn’t feel a little harder until I had to climb up the Franklin hill.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the drumming of woodpeckers on different types of wood — trees, a utility pole
  2. geese, part 1: one goose, with a painful (extra mournful?) honk, flying with at least one other goose, pretty low in the sky
  3. geese, part 2: 3 geese on the path in the flats. Even though I was looking carefully, and noticed the orange cones that they were standing beside, I didn’t see the geese until I was almost next to them
  4. geese, part 3: running past these 3 geese again, I kept my distance, crossing to other end of the trail. Two of the geese were too busy rooting through the snow to notice, but the third one faced me, as if to say, “back off!”
  5. geese, part 4: as I neared lake street, there was a cacophony of honks trapped below the bridge
  6. in the flats: the fee bee call of a black-capped chickadee, both parts: the call, and the response!
  7. Daddy Long Legs sitting on his favorite bench, above the Winchell Trail, on the stretch after the White Sands Beach and before the Franklin Bridge
  8. the wind of many car wheels, then a whoosh when one passed over a puddle
  9. open water
  10. watching the traffic moving fast over the 1-35 bridge near Franklin as I ran under

Before my run, I spent the morning with Alice Oswald, gathering materials, skimming interviews, reading a few more pages of Dart. So cool to make the time to learn more about Oswald’s work and to read and think about poetry and how it might speak as/with the river. I found a wonderful article in a special issue on Alice Oswald in Interim, When Poetry “Rivers”: Reflections on Cole Swensen’s Gave and Alice Oswald’s Dart / Mary Newell. Newell says this about Oswald’s Dart:

Marginal glosses introduce workers for whom the river is a resource, interspersed with local tales, as of Jan Coo, a swimmer who drowned and “haunts the Dart,” local sayings (“Dart Dart / Every year thou / Claimest a heart”), and ancient legends from times when the local oaks participated in sacred rituals. While each voice is distinct, Oswald writes that the marginal glosses “do not refer to real people or even fixed fictions. All voices should be read as the river’s mutterings.”

I had never heard of Cole Swenson before this article. In the bibliography at the end of the essay, I discovered that she’s written a chapbook about walking and poetry! Very exciting. Here’s something she says in the introduction about walking and place:

Then sitting still, we occupy a place; when moving through it, we displace place, putting it into motion and creating a symbiotic kinetic event in which place moves through us as well.

I’m excited to read the rest of this chapbook. As I was reflecting on the value of walking, my mind wandered, and I started to think about why I prefer running to walking in my practicing of attention. Walking opens me up, enabling me to notice new connections, access new doors, but because it involves wandering, and is fairly slow, it doesn’t offer any limits to that wondering. I get too many ideas, wander too much. With running, the effort it requires forces me to rein in some of my wanderings. I can’t think in long, meandering sentences; I need pithy statements, condensed into a few words I can remember. These limits help keep me from becoming overwhelmed with ideas. Does this make sense? I’ll think about it more when I have a chance to read Swenson’s chapbook and some of her other work.

Back to Oswald. I’m planning to read Dart several times through. This first time I don’t want to stop and think through every word or rhythm or image. Instead, I’m reading through it and noting any passage that I want to remember — that I like or surprise me or make me wonder, etc.

if you can keep your foothold, snooping down
then suddenly two eels let go get thrown
tumbling away downstream looping and linking
another time we scooped a net through sinking
silt and gold and caught one strong as bike-chain

I never pass that place and not make time
to see if there’s an eel come up the stream
I let time go as slow as moss, I stand
and try to get the dragonflies to land
their gypsy-coloured engines on my hand)

Dartmeet — a mob of waters
where East Dart smashes into West Dart

two wills gnarling and recoiling
and finally knuckling into balance

in that brawl of mudwaves
the East Dart speaks Whiteslade and Babeny

the West Dart speaks a wonderful dark fall
from Cut Hill through Whystman’s Wood

put your ear to it, you can hear water