april 10/RUN

5.1 miles
bottom of franklin and up again
56 degrees

Shorts! I wore shorts this morning with no tights! My first bare legs since (most likely) October 27th of last year when I wrote about wearing shorts. All the walking paths were open. Ran past the Welcoming Oaks. Hello friends! Down by the sprawling oak to the tunnel of trees. No green yet, only yellow and brown. Passed right above the Rowing Club. Overheard 2 different bike conversations:

3 older women at the top of the franklin hill, getting ready to descend:
biker 1: yes, let’s bike along the flats, I’m done with hills.
biker 2: oh, they’re not so bad.
biker 3: that’s easy for you to say!

a man and a woman, younger than the older women bikers, at the top of the hill near the tunnel of trees, just beginning their descent:
woman biker: now this is the part I like!

In my plague notebook, I wrote something about my run that started with each letter of the alphabet. Wasn’t sure why, it just seemed like it might be helpful. It was. When I got to x, I remembered something that I might otherwise have forgotten. Out of all the images/moments from today’s run (the blue river, the sibilant shuffling over grit, the warm air, the finally open trails, the absence of snow), it’s what I’d most like to remember:

The knocking of a woodpecker on dead wood somewhere in the gorge, sounding like a bone Xylophone.

I remember hearing the loud hollow drumming and imagining that the woodpecker was playing a xylophone with the keys made out of old bones.

Running north, I listened to the cars, the birds, the buzz of spring finally arriving. Running back south, I listened to an old playlist.

A. R. Ammons’ garbage

before the run

As I read the sections in garbage, I’m trying to figure out the best way to make note of this on this log. So much meandering and wandering and finding a thread then losing it again! Today I’ll try a summary, or summaries.

section 7 summary (first attempt)

the future of life is pain and suffering — strokes, hip replacements, insulin shots. we’re designed to fall apart (we’re garbage). but, there’s wonder too, and death and the end of existence, which brings relief. these facts (which exist whether we believe in them or not) are too brutal to be felt bare, so we create languages to soften them — “to warn, inform, reassure, compare, present.” humans construct language out of words, but words aren’t the only way. Other beings — birds, whales, horses, elephants — have created languages too, whale songs and horse whinnies and elephant sounds too low for our ears. we (humans) think words are the world, and they do have the power to change/manipulate the worlds of other beings, but they are not the truth of everything:

our language is something to write home about:

but is not the world: grooming does for
baboons most of what words do for us.

It seems useful to have a summary, to keep track of all Ammons’ meandering, but a summary leaves a lot of the best stuff out:

After opening with some words about life as boring until it’s disrupted by tragedy, he writes:

meanwhile, baked potatoes are still fine,

split down the middles, buttered up, the two white
cakes steaming, the butter (or sour cream) oozing

down and sex is, if any, good, and there’s that time
between dawn and day when idle birds assert song

whereas a little while later they’re quiet at
hunt or nest: and when during the drying out after

rains the trickle in the ditch bottom
quivers by a twig-built strait, the

wonder of it all returns

I love how he starts with meanwhile, which reminds me of Mary Oliver and her wonderful use of meanwhile in “Wild Geese”:

Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,

Meanwhile the geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Meanwhile as both/and, as delight and grief at the same time.

I also love how Ammon describes the baked potato: 2 white steaming cakes oozing butter (or sour cream) — why not both?

Here’s another way Ammons describes wonder: it is a tiny/wriggle of light in the mind what says, “go on”:/that’s what it says: that’s all it says:

section 7 summary (second attempt)

humility and humiliation: you can write your poetry, thinking it enables you to transcend the bare facts of your existence ending. you can’t.

one thinks, slapping down the lines, making time
with eternity, one will thrive beyond the brink but

beyond the brink is no recollection but a wide
giving way into silver that filters farther away

into nothing

section 7 summary (third attempt):

So much of what Ammons is discussing in this book and in this section reminds me of Mary Oliver and her discussion of the work of the poet and the difference between words and the world in The Leaf and the Cloud. I decided to search, “Ammons and Mary Oliver.” The first result didn’t seem to include Oliver, but it caught my attention anyway, with its Ammons’ poem, “Play.” This poem seems to provide another ways for Ammons to say what he’s trying to say about existence, especially in terms of this line in section 7:

then existence recalls with relief that existence
ends, that our windy houses crack their frames

and spill, that nothing, not even cold killing bothers
the stars: twinkle twinkle: just a wonder

Play/ A. R. Ammons

Nothing’s going to become of anyone
except death:
therefore: it’s okay
to yearn
too high:
the grave accommodates
swell rambunctiousness &

ruin’s not
compromised by magnificence:

the cut-off point
liberates us to the
common disaster: so
       pick a perch —
apple bough for example in bloom —
tune up
and if you like

drill imagination right through necessity:
it’s all right:
it’s been taken care of:

is allowed, considering

after the run, hours later, sitting on the my deck and listening to the cardinals

Sitting in the warm sun, reading through section 7 of Ammons’ garbage some more, my mind began to wander and I had some ideas for my Ishihara colorblind plates poems. I’m not sure which of Ammons’ lines or ideas triggered my new thoughts, but I wrote 2 pages in my plague notebook about Ishihara’s test and colorblind plates, starting with some thoughts about looking behind and beyond the circles to some other meaning within my plate poem. The Ammons’ line that distracted me might have been this: what is most beyond must be seen into.

This wandering offered me a new way into a plate poem that I’ve been struggling to find. I like doing close readings of a poem with the hopes of getting distracted by some of its words and then wandering off somewhere else. I’ll call it reading sideways or slantways or besides.