october 31/RUN

5.2 miles
franklin loop
44 degrees

Whew! On the last day of the month I reached my goal. To stay on track for 1000 miles by the end of the year, I needed to run 840 miles by the end of October. I’m at 840.1. Now I have 2 months to run the remaining 160 miles. Five out of the six years of this log, my goal has been 1000 miles. I have achieved it once: year 4, 2020. Some sort of calf/hip/knee injury has forced me to cut back on my mileage the other years. I’ve never been off by that much.

Year 1 = 950 miles, couldn’t run almost all of August and September
Year 2 = 928.85 miles, IT band in November
Year 3 = 900.65 miles, can’t remember why it didn’t happen this year
Year 4 = 1003 miles
Year 5 = 850 miles, focused on a big swimming goal instead (100 miles during 10 week open swim season)

I think 1000 miles is about all that my body can take in a year. I know that bodies are built differently, and that some people have an easier time running lots of miles each week, but I am still amazed at other regular (non-pro) runners who can run 30 or 40 or more miles every week. 20 miles is an average of almost 3 miles every day of the year!

A perfect morning for a run! I thought it might feel colder so I wore one too many layers. I ran north on the river road, through the tunnel of trees, under the lake street bridge, above white sands beach. Then over the franklin bridge and south on the east river road until reaching lake street again. No rowers or roller skiers or fat tires. No geese, but at least one black capped chickadee doing the fee bee call. Never a response. Thought about the endless echo of this unanswered call.

My kneecap: mostly very good. At least one or two shifts, and a few grumbles, but that’s it.

10+ Things I Remember

  1. there was a slight haze in the air, everything dreamy and soft. I think the sun was burning off some early morning fog?
  2. a runner approaching me during the start of my run was listening to music without headphones. At first I thought it was some strange chant, but later, as I continued to hear it across the ravine, it sounded vaguely like some pop song I’ve heard before
  3. running over the franklin bridge, I marveled at the river. A shimmering arrow of light was pointing downstream on its surface. Other than the light, the river was empty. No rowers
  4. running back over the lake street bridge I could see the sun shining off some parked cars on the west river road, no longer hidden from view by leaves
  5. the Welcoming Oaks are bare
  6. all the construction is done over on the east side of the river near franklin
  7. the steady beat of approaching feet from behind, then passing me. I called out good morning and he replied, morning.
  8. encountering 2 walkers. The woman called out good morning! It always seems to be the women who add the good to their morning greetings
  9. on the edge of the gorge, near the meeker island dog park, I could hear a rushing sound. Was it wind in the trees or water dropping out of the sewer or from an underground creek? I decided it was water
  10. the green city sign near the franklin bridge that directs drivers up the hill to franklin avenue was spray painted with white words. I think it might have said Boo?
  11. My shadow joined me today, running just ahead as we headed north. No faint trace, but a dark and defined form

Throughout the run, I chanted triple berries. Lots of strawberry/blackberry/blueberry or strawberry/raspberry/blueberry. Also some, chocolate or chocolate sauce/ice cream cone/whipping cream. Once, cream that’s whipped, which made me think of Devo’s “Whip it.” Wondered about working on a poem/series of poems using this triple rhythm. Also wondered about the difference between chanting these 3, versus chanting 3 then 2. How often do I actually chant 3/2 when I’m running or do I chant more in triples?

Here’s something I’ve been intending to mention for a few days, but keep forgetting: Last week, Scott and I were watching a Halloween episode of Murder, She Wrote. In it, a jerky/mysterious guy living in an old mansion at the edge of town, usually only going outside at night, and wearing sunglasses when he does have to be out in the sun, is accused of being a vampire, then killed with a stake through his heart. I asked Scott how many people with photophobia (light sensitivity) were accused of being vampires. A lot, he thought. At the end of the episode, Jessica revealed that this guy was not a vampire, but had photophobia! I had been thinking of photophobia after encountering the site of a young woman with cone dystrophy. One of the main symptoms for her: photophobia and being completely blinded in the daylight. I do not have this problem. I can look directly at the light without any problems. A few years ago, it bothered me a little, but not anymore. Anyway, I mention this story because I would never have considered the connection between photophobia and being accused of being a vampire if I hadn’t started researching vision after my vision diagnosis. I didn’t even know what photophobia was before my diagnosis. I remembered during my run that I wanted to mention photophobia in my log — while I was running across a bridge — which made me think about how losing my central vision has opened doors into new worlds and helped me to wonder in new ways. This is not to say that my vision loss is a good thing, or some bullshit like it’s part of a larger plan, but it’s also not all a totally bad thing either.

One more thing I just remembered: Most of my triple chants were berries or desserts, but every so often I chanted other things too: history, mystery, intellect then I am girl/I am ghost/I am gorge.

Here’s a poem I discovered today that makes me want to write more about the relationship between the eye and the brain:

A Woman’s Glass Eye/ Richard Weaver (page 66 in journal)

troubled her one day, suddenly filtering light
into colors, depth, and shape. She was
unprepared for such visions from an eye
absent since birth, and interchangeable.
Still, it was, exciting. Enticing even.
She wondered if peripherality was next.
And then is was, with a literal flash.
So astonished was Brain that it considered
hibernation. Or a sleep-induced protective coma.
But Brain too was intrigued. Enchanted.
Beguiled. Hungry for a more powerful
field in which to shape and reshape the world. A
nd so the co-conspiracy began between Eye
and Brain. Never to end. Even in dark dream.
Or total eclipse. Dark become light. Ever after.

october 29/RUN

5.25 miles
fairview loop*
44 degrees

*another Marshall loop variation/expansion. This is my fall 2022 weekend routine. Today I added some more distance by staying on Marshall until I reached the next main street after Prior Avenue at Fairview. A few more blocks, a little more distance, some more of St. Paul to see.

A good run, even if my kneecap was not quite in place for the first mile. Mostly it’s okay, though I worry about it rubbing and creating another bone spur. The weather was close to perfect: mid 40s, sun, not much wind. I felt strong and relaxed and not wanting to stop for any lights. I like this loop, even if it feels longer than it actually is. The hill up Marshall is not bad, especially after Cretin, and the hill down Summit makes it feel easier. I wonder how much I can keep adding onto this loop?

10 Things I Noticed

  1. running across lake street bridge, looking over the railing, I saw an 8-person shell heading south. I stopped briefly to admire it
  2. the river was smooth and dark blue and beautiful
  3. graffiti below the bridge on the st paul side
  4. running by the former Izzy’s ice cream, where FWA and RJP shared a birthday party, I noticed a wooden shelf jutting out of a window — was this the takeout window?
  5. a big apartment building with huge windows near the door stretching multiple floors—I think I remember seeing a big gold chandelier
  6. a big fancy house on Summit with stone pineapples at the end of the driveway
  7. the hill on marshall: steepest at the beginning, then much more gradual until it kicks up a little between prior and fairview
  8. the bells at st. thomas were ringing
  9. reaching the river, running up the hill near Summit, hearing voices behind me — runners, I think. One of them encouraging another to go! go! go! Were they going faster than me? No. Either they turned off or were slower
  10. more shells on the river. I could hear a male coxswain instructing the rowers. Also heard people cheering for the 1/2 marathon races on the west side

This poem makes me think of the various poems I studied last October about bells. Maybe it’s time to revisit the bell for the end of October?

Let this darkness be a bell tower/ Rainer Maria Rilke

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am

october 28/SWIM!

1+ mile
ywca pool

The first swim back at the y pool in 4 years. I’m so happy to be swimming again this winter. I really wanted to make it happen, and I did. Hooray! It’s a very different experience swimming in the pool versus the lake. I still like the lake better, but it’s wonderful to be able to get back in the water. At the start of my swim, I was worried about my kneecap — would it slip out of the groove? It was fine. The rest of the time I counted strokes and noticed the people swimming in other lanes. On one side, an older woman with a strong stroke, alternating between breaststroke and freestyle. On the other side, a younger guy swimming backstroke, freestyle, and breaststroke. A few times he started just as I pushed off the wall and we might have raced. Not sure; I stayed my steady pace, but I was happy to be faster than him. In lanes 5 and 6 — I was in 3 — 2 guys were hanging out in the deep end, one at the surface, the other bobbing up from the bottom.

I swam a 200 yard warm-up, then 1600 yards without stopping, then a 50 yard warm down. 8 sets of continuous 200s, breathing every 3 strokes for 50 yards, 4 strokes for 50, 5 strokes, and 6 strokes (3/4/5/6 x 8). Breaking up 50s with different breathing helps the time to pass more quickly, and also helps me to keep track of my laps. If I breathed every 5 strokes the entire time, I would quickly forget how many 200s I had already done. I’m terrible at keeping track of them. Why is it so hard? Not sure.

I thought about how the kids used to swim here for swim lessons, then on the Otters swim team. I counted how many blue tiles were on the bottom: 6, I think. And I did my start of the swim ritual: pushing off the wall and staying underwater until I reached the end of the blue tiles, which is about 2/3 of the way across.

Scott and I soaked in the hot tub after I was done. Excellent! I’m looking forward to working out here this winter, for the exercise and all the rituals on the track, in the pool, in the locker room.

Found this poem — I think on twitter? — and it made me think of many things, including my question up above about why I always have trouble keeping track of what lap I am on while swimming in a pool — I have this problem with loops in the lake too:

Lost in Plain Sight/ Peter Schneider

Somewhere recently
I lost my short-term memory.
It was there and then it moved
like the flash of a red fox
along a line fence.

My short-term memory
has no address but here
no time but now.
It is a straight-man, waiting to speak
to fill in empty space
with name, date, trivia, punch line.
And then it fails to show.

It is lost, hiding somewhere out back
a dried ragweed stalk on the Kansas Prairie
holding the shadow of its life
against a January wind.

How am I to go on?
I wake up a hundred times a day.
Who am I waiting for
what am I looking for
why do I have this empty cup
on the porch or in the yard?
I greet my neighbor, who smiles.
I turn a slow, lazy Susan
in my mind, looking for
some clue, anything to break the spell
of being lost in plain sight.


october 27/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around
55 degrees

Black shorts, glowing yellow long-sleeved shirt, bright orange sweat shirt. An afternoon run with wind, some sun, lots of golden and orange leaves. First half of run = no headphones / second half = an old playlist (9 to 5, Misery Business, I’m Still Standing, Can’t Touch This).

Some slipping and sliding of my right kneecap. No lingering problems, but still worrisome. Ugh! Late fall and winter are my favorite times to run. Please behave, knee!

Currently, I’m thinking about my vision and trying to find a way into some poems about adjusting/becoming accustomed to my strange vision. I have some ideas, but nothing has quite stuck yet. I’ll keep working at it, at least for a while longer. Maybe I’m not ready to write about this stage yet? No. I think I just haven’t found the right form yet. Should I try more snellen charts or mood rings (with a different size of the ring?) The latest shift in my vision, involves a lot of difficulty in seeing colors properly. What to do with that? I’m also interested in the moment before a scene makes sense. Earlier in October, when I first started with Glück, I brought up the “moment” a few times. I’m also very interested in the idea of almost, not quite, approximate — Emily Dickinson’s ending line to “We grow accustomed to the Dark –“: Life steps almost straight. Almost.

almost

As I was walking with Delia the dog earlier today, I was trying to pay attention to how I was seeing everything. I kept thinking, almost. Almost real. I can see trees, cars, people, houses, the sidewalk, squirrels darting. But the license plates on the cars are blurry and I can’t see house numbers or people’s faces. The sidewalk moves — only slightly, but it seems not quite stable. The sky has some static. There is just enough strangeness in the scene to make me feel like I’m not quite there within this world. At some point I wondered, is this lack of realness the result of my attachment to sharp vision? Can I learn to feel connected through softer vision, or sounds and textures?

Here’s a poem I found on twitter the other day. I’m struck by the moments that the befores and afters in this poem create:

Transubstantiation/ Susan Firer

Before rain hits the ground,
it’s water. It has no small.
After it hits the ground, it’s
memories: my mother,
on crutches, moving toeard me,
in rain, that last dry summer with her,
or a man, who later became my
husband, in a tent with me, in the
petrichor air, our bodies becoming
changelings, becoming a new house-
hold, becoming new gods, with
their own new myths. I was taught
that before the priest raises the host
and wine and says, “This is my body;
this is my blood,” and before the altar
girl rings the bells, the host is bread,
the wine is wine. After the words,
the host is God’s body the wine is
God’s blood. Transubstantiation: me
after him, a baby sucking my nipple,
rain ribboning windows. Now
my six-year-old grandson, in the early
August rainy morning, piano-practices
“The Merry Widow Waltz.” Before
I was a widow, that song was
only a practice piece, a funny
opera. The rocks along my lake
are always most beautiful in rain.
In rain, their colors deepen and shine.
The smell after rain hits the ground
has a name: petrichor,
from the Greek words petra,
meaning stone, and ichor, which is
the fluid like blood in the veins of gods.

I looked Susan Firer up and she seems very cool. I’ll have to dig deeper into her work. Here’s part of documentary about her I found on her site:

october 26/RUN

5.5 miles
ford loop
40 degrees

This fall, it’s harder to make my way to the river: streets blocked everywhere, sidewalks torn up. I ran through the neighborhood and reached it at lake street, which had a lane and sidewalk partially blocked too. The sun on the water was too bright, even for my cone dead eyes.

Running up the east side, near shadow falls, I slowly passed another runner. He called out, A beautiful morning for a run! I called back, it sure is! Yes, I am a dork. After I passed him I could hear his footsteps behind me the entire way up the hill. I sped up and worried that I might end up going too fast. Near the top of the hill, I heard the bells at St. Thomas, noticed my shadow down in the ravine.

I ran without stopping until I reached the ford bridge. Stopped to admire the view and put in Beyoncé’s Renaissance.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the boulevard on the other side of the east river road is extra wide, with an island of green grass on either side of the sidewalk
  2. a duet: chirping bird and whirring leaf blower
  3. at the entrance to shadow falls, at the top of the hill, they’ve put in 4 stone cubes — for sitting and blocking cars, I guess
  4. a white plane up above, flying straight and parallel to the ground
  5. the newly re-paved road, near the overlook just before the ford bridge, looked so smooth and perfect. It almost glowed
  6. very windy on the ford bridge
  7. looking down from the ford bridge, I noticed a white buoy bobbing in the water
  8. at the locks and dam no. 1, a runner passed me. She was short and fast
  9. running past Sunny Montessori, I heard a young child crying
  10. after I finished my run, walking back on a street that doesn’t quite line up from block to block, I looked ahead. In the center of my vision, I could see a bright white dot, then everything around it — the trees, sidewalk, houses — was in blur. I’m not sure, but I imagine people with better vision see this view the same way I do. The white dot at the end of 2 blocks is part of a fence

Halloween is next week, so time for another witch poem!

Song of the Witches: “Double, double, toil and trouble“/ William Shakespeare

(from Macbeth)
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

I remember reciting this in 6th grade, then getting in trouble for something I did, probably being too loud.

oct 25/RUN

4.4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
43 degrees

Gray sky, golden trees. Past peak, I think. A clear view to the other side. Damp. It rained yesterday, just enough to get the falls dripping again. The creek was dry, but as I neared the bridge above the ledge, I heard some water falling. At first I thought it was wind in the trees, but then I heard a slow drip drip drip. As I ran above it, I glanced down. Yuck! An unnaturally green pool of stagnant water at the base of the falls.

I had planned to do one of my regular routines: run south to the falls, stop at the overlook near the “song of hiawatha” poem, put in a playlist, run back north with music. Halfway there, I remember that I had misplaced my headphones somewhere. I had found another pair, but not one with the dongle for plugging into my iPhone. I hate how Apple keeps changing their phones so you need new accessories. I don’t want airpods. I want my cheap lime green headphones with a long cord.

Had the memorial service for Scott’s mom yesterday. It definitely has not hit yet that she’s gone. Still in shock, I guess. Last month I felt tender, now just numb. A strange fall.

10 Things I Remember

  1. the very loud vehicle I mentioned a few entries ago is still on edmund. I have decided it is a cement mixture. Today I was over on the river road trail; it was still so loud!
  2. the pavement is wet with a few streaks of mud and lots of yellow leaves
  3. kids yelling joyfully on the playground at dowling elementary
  4. a runner coming fast down the hill from the ford bridge ran past me, quickly gaining ground, eventually disappearing around the bend
  5. the whiny whirr of the park vehicle’s wheels. I can’t remember now what I first thought the sound was — someone/something crying?
  6. a man in yellow jacket, exiting his car, waiting for me to pass before crossing the sidewalk
  7. Mr Morning! mornied me. For the first time, I said hello instead of good morning. Not sure why
  8. some bikers crossing in front of me near the minnehaha park playground
  9. a bright orange sign warning that the road would be closed this saturday for an event: it’s the 1/2 marathon for the halloween race. Scott and I are running the 10k
  10. no turkeys or geese or woodpeckers

Playing around with forms for a new set of vision poems about adjusting, becoming accustomed to my new vision. Today I thought about taking my favorite lines from a few poems — mostly E Dickinson’s vision poems — and embedding them in my own poems, or using the lines as the title for my poem? Still thinking about it. Right now, I’m thinking of a poem about my daughter’s hands as she tells me a story that I’m tentatively titling, The Motion of the Dipping Birds (from ED’s “Before I Got my Eye put out”).

oct 23/RUN

5 miles
marshall loop — up to prior avenue
62 degrees

Ran with Scott on a beautiful fall morning. Warm enough for shorts and short sleeves. Heard the bells at St. Thomas and the quick clicks of a roller skier’s poles. Crossing the bridge, we talked about the sandbars below that we thought were causing the streaks across the water above. Anything else? I remember hearing music blasting from a bike, and the doppler effect that happened after they passed. A bullhorn beeping over at St. Thomas just as we started running again. Wind rushing at us.

oct 21/RUN

3.35 miles
under the ford bridge and back
57 degrees!

What a morning! Sunny, low wind, only a little sliding in my knee. Noticed the river, but barely. Only a sliver of sparkle through the trees. Ran south and stopped just past the ford bridge. Took out my phone and recorded a note about a possible form for my latest set of vision poems. Listening back to the recording, I’m not sure if it makes sense. Poem 1: block text, bare/basic description of scene/situation; Poem 2: an erasure of that text that reveals more of how I adjust, navigate the situation — maybe by noticing a few key elements?; Poem 3: a haiku/tanka/cinquain that turns my adjustment into something more than almost: a new way of seeing/being? Not sure this makes sense. It’s almost there.

As I recorded, I stood at the edge of the trail, looking down on the marsh-y meadow between the small woods around the bridge and the road leading up to Wabun Park. 2 squirrels darted into the brush, making a racket from dry leaves and tall grass. At the end of summer, I remember running by this meadow and admiring the buzz and growl of the frogs and crickets and whatever else was living in it. Today, it’s pretty quiet. What’s living in there now? Raccoons? Turkeys? A fox?

After recording, I put in Lizzo’s Special, mainly to hear her sing, Hi, mother fucker, did you miss me? I’ve been home since 2020. I’ve been twerkin’ and making smoothies. It’s called healing… Then I started running. Switched to Beyoncé a couple of songs in.

9 Things I Noticed, 1 I Didn’t

  1. the smell of smoke near the one house that always smells like smoke in the winter — on Edmund, close to Dowling
  2. SO LOUD! passing by 2 trucks, about 50 feet from each other, running some sort of machine that was way too loud. I didn’t see, but I hope that the workers nearby were wearing headphones or ear plugs. Wow. I don’t think it was a cement mixer, but I’m not what else it could be — lots of rumbles and roars. Very unsettling
  3. freshly redone sidewalk squares, bright white, sticking out against the old, gray squares
  4. running on the dirt trail between edmund and the river road: a mix of roots and dead leaves and dry dirt
  5. a woman, a kid, a wagon — I think it was red? — heading down to the Winchell Trail at 44th
  6. passing a walker on the “gauntlet” — the dirt/grass patch between the lower campus of Minnehaha Academy and Becketwood that narrows near the road
  7. another loud noise: a rumbling motorcycle overhead, traveling across the ford bridge
  8. a man in a bright yellow shirt, sitting on a bench near a rock above the river
  9. a group of four walkers, one of them wearing a white shirt and black pants, not taking up the entire path
  10. what I didn’t notice: I don’t remember running down the small hill to the part of the trail that dips below the road then climbs back out. As I ran over it again, on my way back, I wondered, what was I doing when I was running on this before? how come I can’t remember anything about it? A moment lost. Love it when that happens

oct 20/RUN

3.1 miles
marshall loop
61 degrees!

Ran with Scott in the late afternoon. Wore shorts and my bright yellow 10 mile race shirt that I’ve been looking for this whole month. Finally found it. Excellent. A nice, relaxed run. Well, mostly relaxed. I was worried about my knees throughout the run because they were complaining a little, but they weren’t sliding so no worries. The thing I remember most about the run is the river. Running across the lake street bridge, heading east, the water was blue and dark and calm, with only very small ripples. Running back, heading west, it looked much rougher, brighter, and the sun was spread across half of it. What a contrast! Same river, different angle, much different view.

Threshold Gods/ Jenny George

I saw a bat in a dream and then later that week
I saw a real bat, crawling on its elbows
across the porch like a goblin.
It was early evening. I want to ask about death.
But first I want to ask about flying.

The swimmers talk quietly, standing waist-deep in the dark lake.
It’s time to come in but they keep talking quietly.
Above them, early bats driving low over the water.
From here the voices are undifferentiated.
The dark is full of purring moths,

Think of it—to navigate by adjustment, by the beauty
of adjustment. All those shifts and echoes.
The bats veer and dive. Their eyes are tiny golden fruits.
They capture the moths in their teeth.

Summer is ending. The orchard is carved with the names of girls.
Wind fingers the leaves softly, like torn clothes.
Remember, desire was the first creature
that few from the crevice
back when the earth and the sky were pinned together
like two rocks.

Now, I open the screen door and there it is-
a leather change purse
moving across the floorboards.

But in the dream you were large and you opened
the translucent hide of your body
and you folded me
in your long arms. And held me for a while.
As a bat might hold a small, dying bat. As

Found this poem on twitter the other day. I don’t totally understand it, but that’s okay. I might get there after a few more readings of it. I picked it for the threshold, the bats, the swimmers in the lake, and these lines, which fit with my current vision project on adjusting and growing accustomed to new ways of seeing/not seeing:

Think of it—to navigate by adjustment, by the beauty
of adjustment. All those shifts and echoes.
The bats veer and dive. Their eyes are tiny golden fruits.
They capture the moths in their teeth.

Adjustments. Shifts and echoes. Always moving — veering and diving. All of this fits so well with my thoughts on seeing and peripheral vision right now!

oct 19/RUN

3.75 miles
trestle turn around + extra
35 degrees

Hooray! I ran again today. I think my kneecap is doing better. It didn’t slide around, and my knee isn’t swollen after my run. It felt strange a few times, and I was apprehensive walking back, but I think it’s okay. I need to remember to take it easy for the next week, and not run too much.

It was a beautiful day for a run. Brisk, sunny, not too much wind. A clear trail, a clear view to the other side. Less leaves, more river. I ran north until I reached 2 miles, then I briefly stopped to put in my headphones and listen to Lizzo’s latest album, Special.

I didn’t notice that much; I was too busy thinking about my knee and wondering if it would start sliding again.

image of the day

A tall bike! Running near the trestle, I noticed that the bike approaching me from the north was extra tall. Because of my vision and because I was looking into the sun, I couldn’t see much detail. All I remember is: an extra tall bike, a male biker. Cool. I looked it up and wikipedia says that these bikes used to be called lamplighters because workers would ride them to reach the gas lamps on city streets. It also says that some people still refer to them as lamplighters. Is that true? I hope so.

I did a little more research — I googled “tall bikes Minneapolis” — and found this cool book (and cool writer/artist): Butterflies and Tall Bikes by Jamie Schumacher:

oin artist and author Jamie Schumacher on a tour of one of Minneapolis’s most unique neighborhoods: The West Bank.

In her second book, Butterflies and Tall Bikes, Schumacher combines personal narrative, compelling interviews, and neighborhood history in vignette-style chapters that paint a picture of the West Bank Business Association and West Bank/Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Detailed, mandala-like illustrations by artist Corina Sagun are interwoven throughout the text, and the book features a cover and map by Minneapolis artist Kevin Cannon. Interviews highlight the stories of West Bank characters and Cedar-Riverside residents, past and present, as they reflect on the community’s changing landscape. 

Lamplighter makes me think of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark,” which I decided earlier today would be the focus of new series of vision poems. Lamplighter reminded me of this poem because of the 3rd and 4th lines: As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp/ to witness her Good Bye –. My poems will orbit around the idea of a moment after we enter a new phase/location/situation, and before we adjust to it.

ED’s moment:

We grow accustomed to the Dark —
When Light is put away —
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Good bye —

A Moment — We Uncertain step
For newness of the night —
Then — fit our Vision to the Dark —
And meet the Road — erect —

My moment focuses on the uncertainty caused by my vision — how that uncertainty lasts much longer because of my lack of cone cells, how my brain compensates and adjusts to a lack of visual data, how it feels to (unlike full-sighted people) not have everything immediately make sense or be clear, various tips and tricks I used to grow accustomed, etc. There’s a lot I could do with this: visual illusions, accounts of my mishaps and failures, descriptions of what I see/don’t see, and more.

The last stanza of the poem serves as a big inspiration too:

Either the Darkness alters —
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight —
And Life steps almost straight.

Last year, I spent time thinking about the almost, the approximate. I want to return to that and push more at what it means to dwell longer than I’d like in that almost, not quite, nearly there, only just, space. I’d also like to think more about how vision works, or doesn’t work, or works strangely, for everyone to different degrees. How what we see is not purely objective or accurate, where our eye is a camera faithfully rendering the real. Here’s an article I found yesterday that might help with that: The painter who revealed how our eyes really see the world

Oh, this is exciting! I hope this idea sticks and leads somewhere. I hope I find a form that fits and can hold all of these ideas!