franklin hill + extra
Everything green. Not dark green, like yesterday, but glowing green. Greeted the Welcoming Oaks as I ran past them. Noticed again — and I’m remembering this time, finally, to mention it — the non-oak (what kind is it?) tree that looks like a tuning fork. A few months ago, looking at it, I thought, “time to tune my body to the gorge.” I think this came to my mind because I had just listened to John Denver’s version of “The Garden Song” and the lines, “Tune my body and my brain/ To the music from the land.”
Things the Flew in my Face, a list
- a small, but not too small, bird flying out of the leaves towards me, then veering quickly, making me stutter step and raise my hands to my eyes
- a gnat, into the liquid protein in my right eye — it might still be in there…yuck!
- cottonwood fuzz
- another bird, not as close this time
- the leafy branch of a tree on the side of the trail
Speaking of wind, there was a point early on in the run when I noticed the wind in several different versions, all at once: the sound of rushing air past my ears; a sound that was not roaring or howling but talking loudly in the trees; the dancing shadows of the leaves on the trail.
Heard the rowers; encountered some roller skiers; greeted Dave, the Daily Walker and Mr. Morning!; looked up at the fluffy white clouds; wondered if the big bird soaring high above me was an eagle or a hawk or a turkey vulture; noticed all the empty benches; tried to, but couldn’t, identify the song coming out of a biker’s speakers as they passed me; thought about how fast the river was going and whether or not that was faster than I was running up the hill; appreciated my shadow ahead of me; smelled too much lilac; successfully avoided lots of groups of walkers; ran way too fast down a hill.
Inspired by an interview I encountered this morning, here’s the first poem from Ada Limón’s latest collection, The Hurting Kind:
Give Me This/ Ada Limón
I thought it was the neighbor’s cat back
to clean the clock of the fledgling robins low
in their nest stuck in the dense hedge by the house
but what came was much stranger, a liquidity
moving all muscle and bristle. A groundhog
slippery and waddle thieving my tomatoes still
green in the morning’s shade. I watched her
munch and stand on her haunches taking such
pleasure in the watery bites. Why am I not allowed
delight? A stranger writes to request my thoughts
on suffering. Barbed wire pulled out of the mouth,
as if demanding that I kneel to the trap of coiled
spikes used in warfare and fencing. Instead,
I watch the groundhog closer and a sound escapes
me, a small spasm of joy I did not imagine
when I woke. She is a funny creature and earnest,
and she is doing what she can to survive.
Here’s the final question, and her answer, in the interview:
Question: What is the poet’s role in finding meaning in the world, and what is our duty in deciding to reject meaning? Talk to me about the work of meaning making. Talk to me about the work of surrender and release?
Answer: That’s the nature of life, isn’t it? To desire to make meaning and then surrender to the mystery and the repeat and repeat and repeat. Toni Morrison once said, during her Nobel Prize speech in 1993, “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” And to me that quote is all about surrendering to our mortality, accepting our end, and yet recognizing the ways in which we honor our time here. How we point out the beauty, the pain, the full spectrum of all of our experience, so that we can live wholly, completely, and not miss the living we’ve been granted. Sometimes the message is only, “Look, I am alive.” And it does not have to transcend that. Why would it? What could be bigger than that?