feb 9/RUN

4.45 miles
minnehaha falls and back
34 degrees
50% jagged ice / 25% slick ice / 25% clear path

I probably should have waited a few more hours to run. Now that the sun has finally come out and it’s another degree warmer, all the ice everywhere might melt. Oh well. This was a tough run. I still enjoyed most of it, but I had to stop and walk several times in order to avoid falling on ice. Now my upper back and knees are sore from the effort of staying upright.

Kids, 3 versions

  1. Running on Edmund, nearing Dowling Elementary, I wondered why it was so quiet. Where were all the kids on the playground? Then, suddenly, I heard them. Laughing and yelling. I decided the moisture in the air must be absorbing the sound, not allowing it to travel too far
  2. At the falls, I heard a few more kids. Standing above, at my favorite spot, I could hear voices below. Were they climbing on the trail that leads to below the falls? I imagined that path was as icy as mine, and I hoped not.
  3. Returning on Edmund, running past Dowling, more kids. This time in the big field by the community garden — at least I think that’s where they were; I only heard them, didn’t see them. So loud and raucous! Frantic, worked-up (or wound up?) screams. Excitement? Too much sugar? Something else? I encountered another runner — a man pushing a jogging stroller — and imagined after I passed him that I had asked, What’s going on over there?!

Here’s the Linda Pastan poem of the day. I’m pairing it with a wonderful Tony Hoaglund poem I found tat involves swimming laps and screaming underwater.

Almost An Elegy: For Tony Hoaglund

Your poems make me want
to write my poems,

which is a kind of plagiarism
of the spirit.

But when your death reminds me
that mine is on its way,

I close the book. clinging
to this tenuous world the way the leaves

outside cling to their tree
just before they turn color and fall.

I need time to read all the poems
you left behind, which pierce

the darkness here at my window
but did nothing to save you.

Don’t Tell Anyone/ Tony Hoaglund

We had been married for six or seven years
when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me
that she screams underwater when she swims—

that, in fact, she has been screaming for years
into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool
where she does laps every other day.

Buttering her toast, not as if she had been
concealing anything,
not as if I should consider myself

personally the cause of her screaming,
nor as if we should perform an act of therapy
right that minute on the kitchen table,

—casually, she told me,
and I could see her turn her square face up
to take a gulp of oxygen,

then down again into the cold wet mask of the unconscious.
For all I know, maybe everyone is screaming
as they go through life, silently,

politely keeping the big secret
that it is not all fun
to be ripped by the crooked beak

of something called psychology,
to be dipped down
again and again into time;

that the truest, most intimate
pleasure you can sometimes find
is the wet kiss

of your own pain.
There goes Kath, at one pm, to swim her twenty-two laps
back and forth in the community pool;

—what discipline she has!
Twenty-two laps like twenty-two pages,
that will never be read by anyone.

Reading these poems again, I’m struck by their last lines, both about Hoaglund’s poems: 1. the ones Pastan read that could pierce the darkness but not save Hoaglund and 2. the unread ones that aren’t for anyone else, but offer some sort of private pleasure in the face of suffering.

Poetry is not meant to save us from dying, but that doesn’t mean it can’t save our lives.