Ran on the track with Scott this morning, not together but at the same time. I thought about swimming, but knew it would be crowded, so I ran. Listened to a playlist titled, Sara 2020. Started with Tower of Power’s “What is Hip” and ended with Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Focused on my cadence, arm swing, and not running into people as I passed them, including 2 runners who were running in the far lane. There were soccer games going on below me in the big gym, but I didn’t notice them at all. Too lost in my run.
The thing I noticed the most were the people:
- a man with white hair, wearing shorts and a tank top, running
- a woman in turquoise shorts and a tank top, running in the far lane, making it difficult to pass
- another runner in dark sweatpants and a light shirt running in the far lane
- 2 people walking, one of them carrying dumbells
- another pair of women, the one in the middle lane wearing a bright blue shirt
- a woman in mid-calf light blue patterned running tights and a white tank top running in the middle lane
- someone in tan shorts walking faster than the other walkers
- a woman stretching her calf muscles on the steps in the far corner
- a guy in gray, walking
- someone in red (I think?) sitting on the bench near the punching bag and the exit
I was listening to music, so I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying, but Scott told me that he overheard 3 interesting things from the pair of women walkers (#5 above). He called them chatty Cathys, he guessed they were in college, and he heard them say this: First, just as he passed them, he overheard one of them call out in disgust, Yuck! Next time, They’ll see it on your transcripts. Finally, You should really stop binging. Binging a show, food, alcohol? What will they see on your transcripts, and is this a good thing, or a bad thing? I love overheard conversations and imagining what they’re about.
Here are two poems I discovered today that move in opposite directions:
Suddenly this defeat.
The blues gone gray
And the browns gone gray
A terrible amber.
In the cold streets
Your warm body.
In whatever room
Your warm body.
Among all the people
The people who are always
I have been easy with trees
Too familiar with mountains.
Joy has been a habit.
Love: I have been easy with trees/too long.
Today my heart is so goddamned fat with grief
that I’ve begun hauling it in a wheelbarrow. No. It’s an anvil
dragging from my neck as I swim
through choppy waters swollen with the putrid corpses of hippos,
which means lurking, somewhere below, is the hungry
snout of a croc waiting to spin me into an oblivion
worse than this run-on simile, which means only to say:
I’m sad. And everyone knows what that means.
And in my sadness I’ll walk to a café,
and not see light in the trees, nor finger the bills in my pocket
as I pass the boarded houses on the block. No,
I will be slogging through the obscure country of my sadness
in all its monotone flourish, and so imagine my surprise
when my self-absorption gets usurped
by the sound of opera streaming from an open window,
and the sun peeks ever-so-slightly from behind his shawl,
and this singing is getting closer, so that I can hear the
delicately rolled r’s like a hummingbird fluttering the tongue
which means a language more beautiful than my own,
and I don’t recognize the song
though I’m jogging toward it and can hear the woman’s
breathing through the record’s imperfections and above me
two bluebirds dive and dart and a rogue mulberry branch
leaning over an abandoned lot drags itself across my face,
staining it purple and looking, now, like a mad warrior of glee
and relief I run down the street, and I forgot to mention
the fifty or so kids running behind me, some in diapers,
some barefoot, all of them winged and waving their pacifiers
and training wheels and nearly trampling me
when in a doorway I see a woman in slippers and a floral housedress
blowing in the warm breeze who is maybe seventy painting the doorway
and friends, it is not too much to say
it was heaven sailing from her mouth and all the fish in the sea
and giraffe saunter and sugar in my tea and the forgotten angles
of love and every name of the unborn and dead
from this abuelita only glancing at me
before turning back to her earnest work of brushstroke and lullaby
and because we all know the tongue’s clumsy thudding
makes of miracles anecdotes let me stop here
and tell you I said thank you.
This poem! The beauty that interrupts us and forces us out of ourselves and into the world! Ross Gay is wonderful.
My Emily Dickinson, part two
a new grammar grounded in humility and hesitation
Emily Dickinson took the scraps from the separate “higher” female education many bright women of her time were increasingly resenting, combined them with voracious and “unladylike” outside reading, and used the combination. She built a new poetic form from her fractured sense of being eternally on inteIlectual borders, where confident masculine voices buzzed an alluring and inaccessible discourse, backward through history into aboriginal anagogy. Pulling pieces of geometry, geology, alchemy, philosophy, politics, biography, biology, mythology, and philology from alien territory, a “sheltered” woman audaciously invented a new grammar grounded in humility and hesitation. HESITATE from the Latin, meaning to stick. Stammer. To hold back in doubt, have difficulty speaking. “He may pause but he must not hesitate”-Ruskin. Hesitation circled back and surrounded everyone in that confident age of aggressive industrial expansion and brutal Empire building. Hesitation and Separation. The Civil War had split American in two. He might pause, She hesitated. Sexual, racial, and geographical separation are at the heart of Definition.
Here’s something I wrote about this passage on March 17, 2021:
I really like this idea of hesitation and humility and aboriginal anagogy as a sharp contrast to progress, aggression, confidence/hubris, and time as always moving forwards (teleology). I tried to find a source that could explain exactly what Howe means by aboriginal anagogy but I couldn’t. I discovered that anagogy means mystical or a deeper religious sense and so, when I connect it to aboriginal, I’m thinking that she means that ED imbues pre-Industrial times (pre Progress!, where progress means trains and machines and cities and Empires and factories and plantations and the enslavement of groups of people and the increased mechanization of time and bodies and meaning and, importantly, grammar) with the sacred. Is that right? Is it clear what I’m saying?
A few paragraphs later, Howe writes this about ED’s grammar of “hesitation and humility”:
Naked sensibilities at the extremest periphery. Narrative expanding contracting dissolving. Nearer to know less before afterward schism in sum. No hierarchy, no notion of polarity. Perception of an object means loosing and losing it. …Trust absence, allegory, mystery–the setting not the rising sun is Beauty. No outside editor/”robber.” Conventional punctuation was abolished not to add “soigne stitchery” but to subtract arbitrary authority. Dashes drew liberty of interruption inside the structure of each poem. Hush of hesitation for breath and for breathing….only Mutability certain.
Some of this is starting to make sense. The periphery, the dashes as hesitation, mystery. I was curious about her take on sunsets over sunrises so I googled it and found this ED poem and helpful account from the Prowling Bee (love her!). She includes a list of ED’s sunset poems.
Howe ends Part One with one more description of ED’s hesitation and humility:
Forcing, abbreviating, pushing, padding, subtraction, riddling, interrogating, re-writing, she pulled text from text (29).