walk: 30 minutes with Delia
Sun! A bright blue sky! Birds! Fresh, cold air! Clearer sidewalks! Wind chimes! What a wonderful walk. I moved slowly, stopping every few steps for Delia to get another sniff. I inhaled deeply, feeling the cold air open up my sinuses. I mostly listened to the birds, but a few times I saw the blur of a tiny body traveling from one branch to another. I noticed the sprawling oaks, their gnarled limbs towering over the sidewalk. I stepped on the thin sheets of ice covering puddles and heard them crack and crunch and then the water squish. I remember thinking that I wasn’t interested in naming what I was noticing, just experiencing it. I felt relaxed and open to the world and happy for these moments.
Most of the sidewalks were clear. On a few corners it was still solid ice. The corner with the mailbox was especially bad. Yikes!
I almost forgot — how could I forget? A birch tree in the middle of the block, its branches blindingly white, illuminated by the sun. Sparkling. I could almost hear a chorus singing its alleluias!
bike: 22 minutes
run: 2.35 miles
outside: an ice rink
After yesterday’s slippery run, I decided I should stay inside today. Biked in the basement with some Dickinson, ran with a running podcast. As I often mention with my basement workouts, it’s difficult to find much to wonder about in such a dark, cold, unfinished space.
Before I worked out downstairs, I started planning the fifth lecture for the class I’m teaching. It’s going to be about the connections between wonder and play. I was reminded of it as I ran and listened to a professional runner turned triathlete talk about how being a beginner and having no expectations or pressure can help you to have fun in your training and in life. I started thinking about having fun and being a kid and the idea that fun and play are usually dismissed as not taking something seriously. It’s all fun and games to you. Or it’s too easy — that’s child’s play. But trying to remember your kid-self, being a beginner, opening up to fun, is something many of us have to work at — to practice — as adults. (Also, being a kid isn’t always easy.) Kelli Russell Agodon has some great things to say about play and wonder in this interview, which I plan to use in my class: Beauty and Play with Kelli Russell Agodon.
In the video interview, Agodon reads her poem, “Grace”:
Grace/ Kelli Russell Agodon
Even those who are living well
are tired, even the rockstar
who swallowed the spotlight,
even the caterpillar asleep
in a unbalanced cocoon.
Who knows how
to be happy when a lamb
is birthed just to be slaughtered
at a later date?
It’s so tiring
how every day is also a miracle—
the drunk bees in the plum
blossoms, the sliver of sun
through the branches
and on an early morning
walk we find the farmer’s
granddaughter has fallen
in love with the lamb,
so it will be saved
and named Grace.
And we are spared
for a moment, from a new
loss and life frolics
across a field of wildflowers
never knowing all it has escaped.
Thinking about the idea of no pressure or expectations, Agodon says this in another interview:
I am quantity over quality, but a lot of the really bad poems will never come out of my laptop. I love writing a poem a day. And I have no problems writing bad poems, just writing something thinking, oh that was just practice. That was just a writing exercise. That poem is never going to go anywhere. I don’t want to revise it. Again, it’s just to enjoy the creation. But when I do choose a poem to revise, then I highly craft it.Poetry Snaps! Kelli Russell Agodon: Grace
And here’s something else she writes about taking walks and finding images:
Rumpus: I think of your poems as being “dense,” and by dense I mean tight and even crowded at times as you fly from one image to another. The imagery is always surprising, line after line. I wonder how you do that?
Agodon: I wonder how I do that, too. Could this mean I’m a word/image hoarder? Maybe my poems are the rooms you go into where everything is stacked to the ceiling? Like those antique shops that have a fascinator balancing on a Mickey Mouse phone on a blue Fiestaware plate toppling above a purple suitcase with a sticker that reads: London. Maybe it’s that I’ve always been a very visual person who notices the small strange details, and they stick with me. Like yesterday when I went for a walk, I saw a toothpaste cap under a tulip and I kept thinking—why is that there? There was a robin there and I started thinking, “What if that toothpaste cap was actually the robin’s bandleader hat.” Kooky stuff, but maybe because while I have six sisters, they were all much older than me, so much of my life felt like being an only child so I was always looking for ways to entertain myself, and I still am.Wired for Wordplay: Kelli Russell Agodon
Reading this interview, I found out about another book Agodon write: Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room. Very cool! I ordered the ebook.