swim: 1.25 miles
I love to swim. Today felt really good, relaxed. I didn’t even care that my latest vision problem happened again. Walking on the pool deck, staring intently at the lanes, trying to see if the lane I’m looking at is as empty as I think it is. I checked at least 3 times, staring at the water. It seemed empty. Then I put my stuff down and was about to get in when I noticed someone in the lane. Very frustrating and unsettling to look closely, for a long time, and still not see what is right there. But really, it’s not that big of a deal. I didn’t jump in on top of anyone or cause a swimmer to mess up their rhythm. I just need to get used to it and accept that it will continue to happen.
Lots of friends in the water with me today: weird white, almost translucent, bits near the bottom, a balled up bandaid in one lane over, and perhaps the most disturbing, a fuzzy brown ball floating halfway up to the surface, slowly making it’s way to below me. Would I accidentally suck it up? Yuck! Must have gotten distracted because I lost track of it.
Noticed the sloshing sound of water as my hands broke the surface.
Everything was blue underwater. Blue tiles, a blue lower-cased t on the wall, blue-tinted water. Dark blue shadows below, cast by the trees outside the window, making the pool floor look alive.
Lots of breaststroke around me, some backstroke, an occasional freestyle. One woman was using a kick board. I used a pull buoy for a set.
run: 3.1 miles
under ford bridge and back
95% clear path
Ran in the afternoon, which is always harder than running in the morning for me. I feel more tired, heavier. My legs don’t want to move as much. No headphones on the way south, Beyoncé’s Renaissance on the way back north. The sky was mostly blue, with a few clusters of clouds. I felt a shadow cross over me as I started my run. Hello bird! I think I looked at the river, and I think it was open. Heard the drumming of a woodpecker. Admired the wide open view near Folwell and the Rachel Dow memorial bench. Now I remember seeing the river! Right there by that bench — brownish-gray and open. Encountered walkers, dogs, a runner with a stroller.
Down below, in a discussion of a gray line in Schuyler’s poem, I wonder if I could write about silver. I noticed it today, out on the trail. The blazing bright reflection off a car’s hood, the sun shining on wet pavement.
Schuyler, Hymn to Life, Page 4
Begins with Bring no pleasure and ends with As one strokes a cat.
And if you thought March was bad
Consider April, early April, wet snow falling into blue squills
That underneath a beech make an illusory lake, a haze of blue
With depth to it.
I love his illusory lake and the haze of blue with depth to it. Squills = a sea onion, a plant in the lily family with slender, strap-like leaves and blue flowers. Until I looked up squills, I didn’t get that the illusory lake was really a cluster of spring flowers. Maybe that’s because April in Minneapolis creates a different kind of fake lake: the giant puddle!
That is like pain, ordinary household pain,
Like piles, or bumping against a hernia.
First reaction: recognition. I am struggling through an extended bout of unexplained constipation that has resulted in piles. Nothing big or overly painful, ordinary, a part of the daily routine. Unsettling. Annoying. A low-lying worry that the ordinary could become something more.
Second reaction: In his episode for VS, Jericho Brown says this:
in any poem, anytime you write something down, one of the things that I’m always doing is I’m trying to make sure it’s opposite soon gets there. Soon as I write something down, I’m like, well, the opposite needs to be there too. The sound opposite, the sense opposite, the image opposite. How do you get the opposites in the poem? Because you want the poem to be like your life.Jericho Brown VS The Process of Elimination
I’m thinking about how just as the ordinary includes the comfort of the mundane and routine, it includes the discomfort — the steady aches and pains that are nothing special, just always present, a part of the day.
And in the sitting room people sit
And rest their feet and talk of where they’ve been, motels and Monticello,
Dinner in the Fiji Room.
I love this plain, ordinary image of people in a sitting room doing what you do in a sitting room: sitting. There’s something magical about the sitting and talking and not doing anything grander, resting.
Someone forgets a camera. Each day forgetting:
What is there so striking to remember?
Each day forgetting.
The rain stops. April shines,
An illuminous penetration of unbright light that seeps and coats
The ragged lawn and spells out bare spots and winter fallen branches.
What a wonderful description of gray light! It shines a little, an unbright light that seeps and coats and exposes (spells out) the worn spots and the ordinary work needed to be done every spring. Lately, when I think of gray, I think of the opposite — not how it makes everything look shabby, worn, tired, but that it softens everything, making it mysterious and more gentle, relaxed.
It seems like Schuyler could be writing against one classic image of luminous gray light or, it made me think of this at least: the silver lining. Wondering about the origins of the phrase, I looked it up. John Milton’s poem, Comus:
That he, the Supreme good t’ whom all all things ill
are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistring Guardian if need were
To keep my life and homour unassail’d.
Was I deceiv’d, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err, there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted Grove.
Thinking about my color poems, and my interest in gray, I wonder how I could write about silver? For me, silver is the color that burns and shines when concentrated on the iced-over river, too bright for my eyes. Silver is also the color of the path when ice is present — it’s a warning sign, a whisper, Watch Out! Slippery.
And now the yardwork is over (it is never over), today’s
Stint anyway. Odd jobs, that stretch ahead, wide and mindless as
Pennsylvania Avenue or the bridge to Arlington, crossed and recrossed
I like wide and mindless, mundane tasks. Well, mostly I do. Tasks that can help me to shift into a different mental space where I wander and day dream. Mowing the lawn, pulling the weeds, doing the dishes.
And there the Lincoln Memorial crumbles. It looks so solid: it won’t
Last. The impermanence of permanence, is that all there is?
I’m reminded of an ED poem with Schuyler’s use of crumbling:
Crumbling is not an instant’s Act (1010)/ EMILY DICKINSON
Crumbling is not an instant’s Act
A fundamental pause
Are organized Decays —
‘Tis first a Cobweb on the Soul
A Cuticle of Dust
A Borer in the Axis
An Elemental Rust —
Ruin is formal — Devil’s work
Consecutive and slow —
Fail in an instant, no man did
Slipping — is Crashe’s law —
Crumbling is routine, everyday life. Slow and steady, nothing special, ordinary. Not Ruin.
is that all there is? To look
And see the plane tree.
What an awesome enjambment! Sometimes all we need (or all we have) is that tree outside the window.
For this is spring, this mud and swelling fruit tree buds, furred
On the apple trees. And yet it still might snow: it’s been known
This poem is about D.C.. Here in Minneapolis, it almost always snows — a big storm — in April.