oct 17/BIKE

bike: 30 minutes
basement, bike stand

I’d like to run this morning, but I won’t. I’m trying to give my right knee a break. So instead, I did a short bike ride in the basement. Hopefully, later this week, I’ll swim at the Y. No deep thoughts while biking, just the chance to move and get my heart rate above 120 bpms. Thought about starting the second season of Cheer! — I watched the first during the winter of 2020 — but ended up watching another track race. Maybe next time I’ll start re-watching Dickinson? I’ve started listening to the awesome poetry podcast about the show, The Slave is Gone, and I’ve been wanting to return to ED’s poems, and read the book I bought earlier this year, My Emily Dickinson by Susan Howe. Too many projects, not enough time or energy. Oh well.

Marie Howe and the Moment

Yesterday, I posted 2 poems from Marie Howe, Part of Eve’s Discussion and The Meadow, and I mentioned a third that I had posted earlier in this year on July 19, “The Moment.” Here it is:

The Moment/ Marie Howe

Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment

when, nothing

happens

no what-have-I-to-do-today-list

maybe half a moment

the rush of traffic stops.

The whir of I should be, I should be, I should be

slows to silence,

the white cotton curtains hanging still.

This last line about the white curtains hanging still reminds me of an interview with Howe that I posted an excerpt from 3 days later. When asked about caring for her dying brother, she mentions a green, flapping shade:

 being with John when he was alive in those hours and days in his room with the green, flapping shade. Sitting by Johnny and just talking in those ways for those hours and all the particulars: the glass, the sandwich, the shade, the bedclothes, the cat, the summer heat outside pressing against the windows, the coolness in the air, the dim room. The peacefulness. The sounds of kids on bikes outside. For once there was nothing else going on but that. That’s the freedom of it, right? What’s more important? Nothing. So you’re actually living in time again.

and also this:

That was really a big deal. I was given this place to be without any expectations really. And everything changed so that the particulars of life—this white dish, the shadow of the bottle on it—everything mattered so much more to me. And I saw what happened in these spaces. You can never even say what happened, because what happened is rarely said, but it occurs among the glasses with water and lemon in them. And so you can’t say what happened but you can talk about the glasses or the lemon. And that something is in between all that.

Reading her words here, and thinking about the death of her brother, has helped me to enhance/shift my understanding of a few lines from “The Meadow”:

But in this world, where something is always listening, even
murmuring has meaning, as in the next room you moan

in your sleep, turning into late morning. My love, this might be
all we know of forgiveness, this small time when you can forget

what you are. 

I first wrote about these lines on july 13 and 14, 2020. In those entries, I talked a lot about the value of forgetting. To forget what you are and just be, without judgment, giving attention to the light and the breeze and a flapping, green shade.

a few more thoughts about moments:

In “Logic” Richard Siken writes the moment before something happening and sleeping and possibility. I don’t completely understand his words, but they reminded me of Howe’s words:

A hammer is a hammer when it hits the nail. 
A hammer is not a hammer when it is sleeping. I woke 
up tired of being the hammer. There’s a dream in the 
space between the hammer and the nail: the dream of
about-to-be-hit, which is a bad dream, but the nail will
take the hit if it gets to sleep inside the wood forever. 

Also, I keep thinking about a moment as not being a unit of time, but a location, that in-between space. And I’m also thinking of time outside the clock, which is a theme I’ve return to a lot, and that comes up in the bit of the poem I re-memorized yesterday:

Our clock is blind, our clock is dumb.
Its hands are broken, its fingers numb.
No time for the martyr of our fair town
Who wasn’t a witch because she could drown.

It’s also in the a few lines I wrote in my long poem, which I was calling “Haunts,” but am now thinking of it as “Girl Ghost Gorge”:

I slip through time’s tight
ticks to moments so
brief they’re like shudders,
but so generous
they might fit every-
thing left behind by
progress.

oct 16/RUN

3.25 miles
marshall loop
42 degrees / 16 mph

Overcast, a heavy white sky. No snow coming, just thick clouds. A nice contrast for the bright yellows and reds and oranges lining the gorge and neighborhood sidewalks. The best view: running back across the lake street bridge, from Minneapolis to St. Paul. Such vivid colors!

About 1/2 mile in, my kneecap seemed a little shifty. Do I need to turn back? I decided to walk for a minute and regroup. Started running again, still uncertain whether I would keep going or not. For the rest of the run, it sometimes felt strange. Or was it just that I was worried about it? I can’t decide if it — my knee, my leg, my calf — feels strange because I’m worried, or because it’s warning me? Should I take several days off to be safe? Probably.

image of the day

Running over the bridge, I noticed these foamy streaks on the east side of the river — not continuous lines, but dashes or slashes in the water. I wondered what caused them. Later, walking for a short stretch back across the bridge I decided it was the strong wind pushing the water, making little ripples. Now I’m wondering again: was it just wind, or wind and small sandbars below the surface?

Last night, I recall reading something about how low the Mississippi River is this year and about some rock formation near St. Louis (I think?) that you normally can only access by boat, but now you can walk to. Okay, I looked it up. It’s Tower Rock and it is near St. Louis and here’s an article about it.

Before I went out for my run, I re-memorized my favorite part of one of my favorite Halloween poems. It’s from “A Rhyme for Halloween” by Maurice Kilwein Guevara:

Our clock is blind, our clock is dumb.
Its hands are broken, its fingers numb.
No time for the martyr of our fair town
Who wasn’t a witch because she could drown.

Now the dogs of the cemetery are starting to bark
At the vision of her bobbing up in the dark.
When she opens her mouth to gasp for air,
A moth flies out and lands in her hair.

The apples are thumping, winter is coming.
The lips of the pumpkin soon will be humming.
By the caw of the crow on the first of the year,
Something will die, something appear.

Oh, the mood this poem creates! I love it. I intended to recite this in my head as I ran, but I forgot. I think I was too distracted by worries about my knee.

Found this poem on twitter yesterday. It’s from Marie Howe, one of my favorite poets:

Part of Eve’s Discussion/ Marie Howe

It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand, and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to still and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop, very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say, it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only all the time.

I want to return to this poem and think about this moment some more, and the last line. And I want to compare it to some of her ideas about moments, like in The Moment or The Meadow:

The Meadow/ Marie Howe

As we walk into words that have waited for us to enter them, so
the meadow, muddy with dreams, is gathering itself together

and trying, with difficulty, to remember how to make wildflowers.
Imperceptibly heaving with the old impatience, it knows

for certain that two horses walk upon it, weary of hay.
The horses, sway-backed and self important, cannot design

how the small white pony mysteriously escapes the fence every day.
This is the miracle just beyond their heavy-headed grasp,

and they turn from his nuzzling with irritation. Everything
is crying out. Two crows, rising from the hill, fight

and caw-cry in mid-flight, then fall and light on the meadow grass
bewildered by their weight. A dozen wasps drone, tiny prop planes,

sputtering into a field the farmer has not yet plowed,
and what I thought was a phone, turned down and ringing,

is the knock of a woodpecker for food or warning, I can’t say.
I want to add my cry to those who would speak for the sound alone.

But in this world, where something is always listening, even
murmuring has meaning, as in the next room you moan

in your sleep, turning into late morning. My love, this might be
all we know of forgiveness, this small time when you can forget

what you are. There will come a day when the meadow will think
suddenly, water, root, blossom, through no fault of its own,

and the horses will lie down in daisies and clover. Bedeviled,
human, your plight, in waking, is to choose from the words

that even now sleep on your tongue, and to know that tangled
among them and terribly new is the sentence that could change your life.

oct 15/RUN

3.3 miles
edmund, south/river road trail, north/edmund, south
35 degrees

It felt warmer than 35 degrees to me. Was it because I warmed up on my bike in the basement before I left? Maybe. Listened to Beyoncé and Renaissance as I ran. Favorite song today: “Plastic Off the Sofa.” My right kneecap, the one that’s been slipping out of the groove seems okay today. To be safe, I ran all the way home instead of walking the last bit. I’ve found that it’s mostly okay when I run, but starts to shift more when I’m walking after my run. Why? Bodies are strange and so hard to figure out.

My view to the other side is getting wider! More leaves leaving everyday. I don’t remember noticing the color of the river, just that it was bright and shiny and beckoning through the trees. Saw two roller skiers skiing side by side, the swinging of their poles in sync. I didn’t hear the poles clicking because I was listening to music. Also watched the graceful gait of a runner as they passed by me. Beautiful to watch their feet lift off — so high, so bouncy, so rhythmic!

Near the start of my run: one wild turkey in a neighbor’s front yard, looking a little frantic or wary of me running by. Did they hiss? If they did, I didn’t hear it.

As I neared the old oak tree that stands next to the ancient boulder at the top of the tunnel of trees, I noticed that it was golden — not a bright, vibrant yellow, which is sometimes what I call golden, but like gold leaf that’s slightly tarnished, past its prime, a glow that’s fading.

The Beginning of the Beginning/ Phuong T. Vuong

Who decides where a river starts? When are there enough
sources, strong currents and water wide enough for its name?

In Colorado, the Chama begins in smaller creeks and streams,
flows into New Mexico to form the Rio Grande, splitting Texas

and Mexico (who decided?) and moves deeper south. I think
a few of these thoughts by a creek on a beaming hot day,

as water rips by in rapids propelled, formed in mountains far above.
The water icy even in this summer heat. People grin

some false bravery. They sit in tubes and dip into the tide
and be carried away. I think of drowning. Of who sees water

as fun. Who gets to play in a heatwave. Who trusts
the flow. Migrants floating in the Rio Grande haunt me, so

I think of families tired of waiting, of mercy that never comes,
of taking back Destiny. The rivers must have claimed more

this year. Knows no metering but the rush of its mountain
source’s melt. A toddling child follows her father into water’s

pull. Think of gang’s demands, of where those come from. Trickles
of needs meeting form a flow of migrants. Think of where

it begins. Think of the current of history—long, windy, but
traceable and forceful in its early shapes.

This question of the first line, who decides when a river starts, makes me think about the origins of the mississippi and Lorine Niedecker’s discussion of Henry Schoolcraft’s naming of lake itasca in her poem “Lake Superior.” It also makes me think of Diane Setterfield’s discussion of rivers and springs and their origins in Once Upon a River.

I also like the lines:

Of who sees water

as fun. Who gets to play in a heatwave. Who trusts
the flow.

Not always, but often, when I’m swimming across lake nokomis in the summer, I think about the people who have drowned in this small, shallow lake. Water has always been something I love and trust and can move through easily. I try to remember how that’s not true for others.

oct 14/BIKERUN

indoor bike: 15 minutes
bike stand
treadmill run: 1 mile
outdoor run: 2 miles
34 degrees / icy drizzle

Woke up this morning before 6, opened the door to snow. What? Less than an inch, but all the trees were covered in white, the deck too. I had no idea. Oh well, I knew it would melt and that it wouldn’t be difficult to run in. A few hours later, having put on my early winter running attire — black running tights, black shorts, pink jacket with hood, black running vest, cap, headband, gloves — I opened the door to icy rain. Wtf? Again, I had no idea.

I will run in cold. I will run in snow. I will run in rain. I will not run in icy rain.

Decided to do a quick bike warm-up in the basement, then do a short run on the treadmill. Felt so good when I was done that I decided to believe that it wasn’t raining anymore. It was, but barely. Ran through the neighborhood, trying to avoid all the closed sidewalks and roads, and onto the river road trail at 32nd. Everything was dripping, but nothing was slippery. The main things I remember from the run are: puddles, the soft sounds of falling water — not sure how much of it was rain, and how much of it was just dripping trees, beeping trucks, and deep dark brown trunks.

As I write this entry, only minutes after I finished my run, the sun has come out and the sky is bright. I suppose if I had just been patient and waited a few more minutes, I could have avoided all the drips, but why would I have wanted to do that?

Something I learned this morning: I should do a 5-10 minute warm-up on the bike, or the treadmill, before I go out for a run, especially when it’s very cold outside. Why have I never thought of this before?

It’s October, so of course I’m thinking about ghosts. I also happen to be editing some poems about ghosts/haunts that I did last year. Here’s a poem I found yesterday:

Circle/Dana Knott

There are ghosts
and there are humans
in this house
ghosts who were once
humans, humans
who will become ghosts

The ghosts pace
from room to room
open cupboards 
and tap tap messages
looking, looking

Ghosts and humans 
live together apart
each a movement
a curtain, a drift
of snow, a whiteness
each his own fragment
trying to connect

to remember, to forget
lost loves, found keys 
human obits in the process
of being written
ghostly obits in the process
of being read

oct 13/BIKE

indoor bike: 30 minutes
basement, bike stand
43 degrees

Decided to give my slippy and slide-y kneecap another day to recover from yesterday’s run. It seems fine, but I’m being extra cautious. I want to reach my 1000 miles again this year. I biked and watched an old 10,000 meter race — Worlds, Beijing, 2015. Why does 2015 seem so long ago?

Next week (hopefully), we’re re-joining the YWCA so I can swim this winter and Scott can run. Hooray for less basements, more pools and pool poems, and a new batch of regulars! Don’t worry, I’m still planning to run outside. Winter running is my favorite.

Yesterday, I discovered a new journal on twitter: Tiny Wren Lit. They publish very small poems — up to 15 lines, with a max of 25 characters (including spaces) per line. On the 15th, they’re open for submissions for an issue with the theme, Self-Portrait As. I’ve started working on reshaping a few of my poems to fit this theme. Very cool. In the process of thinking about this, I have (I hope!) come up with my fall project: a series of small poems playing with the themes of water and stone. I’ve been thinking about water and stone for a long time; they are 2 of the constants in my writing/moving/life. Sometimes I feel like water, sometimes stone. I’m excited!

And, here’s a beautiful I found, also on twitter:

Forest of Beginnings/ Mai Der Vang

Even the sky knows not
to make promises of water,
 
and the air knows not to dream
the onset of rain.
 
Even the animal
who forgets the touch
 
of a distant liquid cold
waits without knowing.
 
Earth is picking up her bones.
 
Earth is tucking in her babies.
 
          Sleep well, little loves,
                 sleep as you’ve never slept
 
       so you may wake
                    as you’ve never woke.
 
This is the earth that chants.
 
This is the earth that grows
teeth in the storm.
 
               This is the earth voicing
  each twig and leaf,
 
every stem
and stone.
 
This is the earth that opens like a room.
 
The ground sleeps through another
season of drought.
 
The land burrows further into exile,
sinking upward,
                        heaven to the ground,
 
where bodies of hemlock and pine,
cedar and fir,
 
no longer cast old roots but
tiptoe their arms
 
around shrubs and metal stakes.
 
Still, the land gives, the field grows,
and the harvest enters
          when it is called.
 
Flora of these hills and meadows
 
are all but springing their desires
under the rising moon.
 
               Leaves tended
by hands that tended leaves
from another mountain
 
on another shore
                        in another war.
 
War made by hands of another
for ownership of
 
                     the mountain before
leaving to new shores.
 
I did not know when I birthed you
that flight had been etched
on our tongues.
 
I did not know the jungle would
take us
far from our home,
 
                           bring us to California with
visions of new dirt and
 
the brightest green in our blood.

oct 12/RUN

5.5 miles
ford loop
51 degrees

A wonderful fall morning. Sunny, glowing trees, not much wind. I felt great during my run. Easy, relaxed. The problem: when I was done, and walking back, my right kneecap started to act up. Small slides and shifts, not wanting to stay in place. Now, I’m icing it. Bummer. I’m not sure why my knee is having problems.

Lately, it’s a challenge making it to the river. There are redoing so many sidewalks in the neighborhood that it’s hard to know which street to take over to the river road. Today, I zigzagged until I reached edmund, then down the hill until I reached 32nd, then over to the trail.

On the path, a squirrel was running ahead of me. They couldn’t decide which way to go — away from me, or right towards me. They darted away, then back, then away, then back. Fuck, I muttered under my breath.

Running at my favorite spot on the east side, just above the lake street bridge, I was running too close to the railing and didn’t see a pigeon (was it a pigeon?) stopped on a post. Normally birds will fly away before you reach them; this one, just barely in time. I exclaimed, geeze, and held up my hands to my face as its wings flapped furiously. As usual, I wondered how ridiculous I looked to a passing driver.

Recited my favorite section from May Swenson’s “October” — the whole thing this time:

7.
Now and then, a red leaf riding
the slow flow of gray water.
From the bridge, see far into
the woods, not that limbs are bare,
ground thick-littered. See,
along the scarcely gliding stream,
the blanched, diminished, ragged
swamp and woods the sun still
spills into. Stand still, stare hard
into bramble and tangle, past
leaning, broken trunks,
sprawled roots exposed. Will
something move? A vision come
to outline? Yes, there—
deep in—a dark bird hangs
in the thicket, stretching a wing.
Reversing its perch, it says one
“chuck.” The patch
on his shoulder that
should be red looks gray.
This old redbird is planning to
stay, this year, not join in the
strenuous migration. Better here,
in the familiar, to fade.

another word repeated: still

I have loved the line, Stand still, stare hard, ever since I first read this poem a few years ago.

Ran past a big boulder with a plaque. I thought about stopping to read it, but I didn’t want to stop. One day, I’ll stop, I thought. But will I?

Thought about stopping to take off my orange sweatshirt. I didn’t. Thought about stopping to walk up the steep (but less steep now that they’ve rerouted it) sidewalk to ford bridge. I ran the entire 5.5 miles without stopping. Excellent.

Anything else? Running on the east side, past a ravine that’s not too far from the ford bridge, I had a memory of living in northern virginia when I was 10. Such beautiful falls! The leaves, the sun, the winding roads! A happy memory — not of one specific time, but the feeling of fall — crisp air, sun shining on orange leaves, trails to explore, fresh cider to drink. I don’t want to go back to that time, but I like feeling it again. Something about running on the east side of the river helps me to do that. Why the east side, but not the west? Not sure.

oct 10/RUN

6.05 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
51 degrees

A beautiful morning, a good run. Now, minutes after it, I’m wiped out. Ran down the franklin hill, past annie young meadows, to the top of the south fourth st overlook. Stopped to admire the river: blue, with 2 rowers, one in a bright orange top (shirt? vest? jacket?). Started running again, walked up the franklin hill, then ran again, this time with a Taylor Swift playlist.

For the first few miles, I recited lines from May Swenson’s “October”:

Now and then, a red leaf riding
the slow flow of gray water.
From the bridge, see far into
the woods, now that limbs are bare,
ground thick-littered. See,
along the scarcely gliding stream,
the blanched, diminished, ragged
swamp and woods the sun still
spills into. Stand still, stare
hard into bramble and tangle,
past leaning, broken trunks,
sprawled roots exposed.

As I recited it, I wondered about the repetition of now (now and then; now that limbs are bare) and into (see far into; the sun still spills into). Why does she repeat these words?

10 People I Encountered

  1. Was mornied! by Mr. Morning! I had run past him — only seeing him from behind and not noticing it was him — and he called out. I turned back and called out good morning!
  2. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker.
  3. Ran past Daddy Long Legs.
  4. a woman walking briskly, wearing a turquoise fleece, talking with
  5. another woman, together they approached me from behind as I walked up the franklin hill. Their voices hovered, growing louder as they neared
  6. a runner dressed in black — first far behind me, then closer, then past me, then far ahead
  7. a person sitting on a bench perched on the rim of the bluff
  8. an older man and woman walking — I think I regularly encounter them? Can’t remember what the woman looks like, but the man is tall, thin, and white with white hair
  9. a roller skier, roller skiing in the flats
  10. a biker blasting music — I couldn’t hear it because I had my headphones in

word of the day: bombinate

I follow Merriam-Webster on twitter. Had to make note of today’s word of the day. “To bombinate is to make a sustained, murmuring sound similar to a buzz or drone.” I strongly dislike anything that bombinates. That low-lying, ever-present rumble that unsettles. I do like saying the word, though.

Taylor Swift’s “Red” came on near the end of my fifth mile. As I listened to the lyrics, I was struck by the chorus:

Losing him was blue, like I’d never known
Missing him was dark gray, all alone
Forgetting him was like trying to know
Somebody you never met
But loving him was red
Oh, red
Burning red

Perhaps this isn’t fair, but I kept thinking about how predictable and unimaginative her color descriptions are. And then I started thinking about synesthesia, which I don’t have, and wondering if people with it see emotions as colors, and what colors they might see. And now, after quickly researching the link between blue and gray and depression, I’m thinking about color psychology and feeling skeptical.

oct 8/RUN

4.25 miles
cleveland loop
44 degrees

Sunny and clear. Did I see any clouds in the sky? The only thing I remember seeing is a plane — just a small smudge of white — that I originally thought was the moon.

some winter layers: black running tights; black shorts; long-sleeved green base layer (REI, this shirt might be 9 or 10 years old, worn for almost every winter run); bright orange pull-over; baseball cap — twins, black with white polka dots; bright pink headband to cover my ears.

My second favorite Halloween house (Longfellow’s Lament will always be the best), the one that I thought would never happen again, is happening! A few days ago, Scott, Delia, and I walked by it — rats eating fake fingers, tombstones, a few disembodied heads, ghosts. Nice! This morning, running by it, I saw (and heard) someone in the yard setting up some creepy music. Yes!

10 Things I Noticed

  1. 2 rowing shells on the river
  2. a woman on the bridge taking a picture of the view
  3. crowded paths near St. Thomas
  4. several bright red trees
  5. the click click clack of a roller skier’s poles
  6. red leaves on the sidewalk fading into pink
  7. the smell of breakfast near Black Coffee — hash browns, toast, bacon, grease
  8. the bells chiming — maybe it was 10? — at St. Thomas
  9. the coxswain’s voice drifting up from below
  10. waiting at Cretin (on Summit) for the light to change, when it did and I started running again, I heard the footsteps of another runner behind me. Would they pass me or fade away? They faded away

Read Glück’s “October” again before I went out for a run, and intended to think about these lines, but I forgot once I started moving:

The light has changed;
middle C is tuned darker now.
And the songs of morning sound over-rehearsed.

This is the light of autumn, not the light of spring.

I wanted to think about how the morning song is over-rehearsed and how the light has changed. Then I wanted to think about the differences between autumn and spring light, which always seem similar to me, but not quite the same. Why not? Is it mostly what’s coming next — abundance or scarcity?

oct 7/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
43 degrees / mist

Even though I had been sitting at my desk in front of 2 big windows this morning, I hadn’t noticed that it was raining. Oh well, by the time I was ready to run the rain was mostly done. Just a fine mist and dripping trees. I guess I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t realized it was raining/had rained: my neighbor had their sprinkler on and was watering their lawn!

Yesterday I mentioned that I should try doing a warm-up inside before going out for my run. I did, and it worked! I could feel my muscles activating and no kneecap slips. Excellent!

A beautiful, muted morning. Quiet, cooler, soft. Even the glowing oranges and reds seemed softer, more subtle in their show. I felt really good — strong, relaxed, making an effort but not working too hard. Flying or floating or bouncing off the trail in a steady rhythm.

To test how hard I was working, I tried (and mostly succeeded in) reciting Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Spring and Fall” out loud. In an easy run, you should be able to carry on a conversation without any problems, or in this case, be able to recite a poem without needing to take a breath every word. I stumbled over a few words, but that was my memory’s fault not my lungs’.

I think I saw Santa Claus at the beginning of my run. Good mornied! Mr. Morning! Heard the rowers down below and the geese up above. Glimpsed the river though the thinning leaves. Dodged some walkers. Squeaked on the wet leaves.

Thought about stopping at the halfway point and putting in my music; decided to keep listening to the gorge or my breathing or my thoughts.

Started reading Louise Glück’s Averno before my run. “October” is the second poem in the collection. I’m thinking about reading the entire collection. Should I?

Averno = a small crater lake in Italy, regarded by the ancient Romans as the entrance to the underworld.

Here’s the first poem of the collection:

The Night Migrations/ Louise Glück

This is the moment when you see again
the red berries of the mountain ash
and in the dark sky
the birds’ night migrations.

It grieves me to think
the dead won’t see them—
these things we depend on,
they disappear.

What will the soul do for solace then?
I tell myself maybe it won’t need
these pleasures anymore;
maybe just not being is simply enough,
hard as that is to imagine.

This poem makes me think of one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems, “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark”:

We grow accustomed to the Dark –/ Emily Dickinson

We grow accustomed to the Dark –
When light is put away –
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye –

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

And so of larger – Darkness –
Those Evenings of the Brain –
When not a Moon disclose a sign –
Or Star – come out – within –

The Bravest – grope a little –
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead –
But as they learn to see –

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

There are many different ways I think of these poems together, but right now, I’m thinking about Glück’s first line, This the moment when you see again, as the moment in ED’s poem when we fit our vision to the Dark and Life steps almost straight. This moment, for Glück, is the moment after a great loss and after you have been changed by it. This idea of being changed/altered comes up several times in “October,” especially in 4:

The light has changed.

The songs have changed.

So much has changed.

And yet the notes recur. They hover oddly
in anticipation of silence.
The ear gets used to them.
The eye gets used to disappearances.

You will not be spared, nor will what you love be spared.

oct 6/RUN

6.1 miles
minnehaha dog park and back*
53 degrees

*a new route: south on the river road trail, past the falls and John Stevens’ house, along the gorge with hidden falls on the other side until turning around just before the dog park

Cooler weather. A bit blustery. Most of the time, the wind was pushing me and the leaves. Every so often I chanted, I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves tremble but I am invisible (Richard Siken) and Who has seen the wind? Neither I nor you: but when the leaves hang trembling, the wind is passing through. Who has seen the wind? Neither you nor I: but when the trees bow down their heads, the wind is passing by (Christina Rossetti).

Felt strong and relaxed. My right kneecap did some tiny slips. I decided that I should start warming up more before I head out for a run. Hopefully this will help my knee stay in the groove? Also: worked on my posture, trying to keep my trunk tall and my head straight.

A rare occasion: Nearing the park building at the falls, I realized I needed to go the bathroom, so I stopped. Hooray for a real bathroom, and not just a port-a-potty or a bush!

10+ Things I Noticed

  1. the leaves on the edge of the gorge, down near the ground, look a bright glowing orange instead of their usual red. Not sure if that’s true, or just my bad vision
  2. a view is coming! the trees are thinning in a stretch somewhere between 38th and 42nd and I could see the blue of the river below
  3. between the double-bridge and the locks and dam no. 1: a row of bushes, still thick with leaves, blocking my view of the river. The light flashing through the small gaps disorients
  4. seeing these flashes, wondering if I should tilt my hat to shield my eyes, a peleton passes by on the road
  5. at the falls, several of the sidewalks are covered in fallen leaves
  6. the trail is peppered with bright reds, yellows, oranges
  7. many of the trees at the falls have changed from green to gold and red, but a cluster (a stand?) of 4 or 5 are still green
  8. running above the gorge, parallel to Hiawatha, sirens — what happened and where?
  9. a bright red tree, glowing with color, way over in the neighborhood on the other side of Hiawatha
  10. the sandy beach at Hidden Falls almost glowing white through the trees
  11. the falls, dry — not a drop of creek water falling down the limestone
  12. someone blasting music (rock? pop?) from their car on Hiawatha. So loud!
  13. bing bing the fake bells of the train ringing as it pulls out of the 50th street station

The Secret in the Mirror/ Alberto Ríos

The mirror is dirty from the detritus of dailiness—
I look in the mirror and am freckled.

A week out from being cleaned, maybe two, maybe more,
The Milky Way shows itself in the secret silver,

This star chart in my own bathroom,
Aglow not in darkness but with the lights on,

Everything suddenly so clear.
It is not smear I am looking at, but galaxies.

It is not toothpaste and water spots—
When I look in the mirror, it is writing and numbers,

Musical notes, 1s and 0s, Morse-like codes, runes.
I am looking over into the other side,

And over there, whoever they are, it turns out
They look a lot like me. Like me, but freckled.

I really appreciate Ríos’ description in “About this Poem”:

…this poem speaks to the everyday lives we also lead—not cleaning the bathroom sink quite as much as we perhaps should, not always controlling the floss strings of good intentions now turned wild, not vacuuming nearly enough. But even in the mundane, we have, always at hand, surprise, surprise at its most savory in that we have least expected to find it where it is not advertised.

Surprise. Yes! I’m struck by how my failing vision creates a lot of surprise as my brain attempts to guess what I’m looking at. My vision aside, I also like the idea of finding the magical in the moments when the mundane fails, like when we fail to clean our bathroom mirror.