march 5/RUN

2.6 miles
2 trails
39 degrees

Sun! Blue skies! Hardly any wind! Wore compression socks while I ran for the first time. I felt fine while I was running and after I stopped, so they must be working (or, at least not not working).

Heard birds. No particular bird, just birds. Earlier, while walking with Scott to our polling station to vote in the primary, I heard a downy woodpecker and blue jays and cardinals. But, just now, running, only Bird.

I know I saw the river, but I can’t remember what it looked like. The leaves on the winchell trail were slippery, the mud up above was not. I thought about my mom a few times — mostly about her prolonged death and how I recently started understanding it as an expression of resistance and rage against cancer and dying too young and “redemption” and the expectation that she should/would be a good girl who died a nice and neat death.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I’ve written before about how I dislike the idea of this Dylan Thomas poem. I’ve changed my mind.

earlier today

A morning of wandering (and some worrying too — not quite panic, but unease, discomfort for no real reason — peri-menopause anxiety?). Began with some thoughts about my mom, who would be 82 today if she were still alive, and a beautiful poem-of-the-day about a daughter’s grief and guilt. Then a skim of an article about W. H. Auden, which led me to his poem, “Musée des Beaux Arts” — an ekphrasis! — and the memory of an amazing, interactive essay about the poem by Elisa Gabbert, which I found and then read. I recall encountering this essay when it first came out, thinking it was great, but not having any interest in studying it. Now, on my dead mom’s birthday and with a new interest in ekphrastic poetry, I was ready for it.


Musée des Beaux Arts/ W.H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along

How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

In her wonderful essay about this poem, Gabbert writes:

No matter how familiar a poem is, rereading it always gives me a sense of first encounter, as though I’ve gone back to sleep and re-entered the dream through a different door.

Each time I return to this one, I’ve read a lot of other poems in the interim, which change and expand my reading. But I’ve also done more living, so I understand more about suffering myself. Pain is a kind of wisdom, maybe. As I age, I’m making the poem better.

A Poem (and a Painting) About the Suffering That Hides in Plain Sight/ Elisa Gabbert

Today, reading the first lines — the first stanza-long sentence — almost took my breath away. There it was, what I felt when my mom was dying and dying then dead, that suffering happens in the midst of others’ living their daily, mundane lives. This can lead to indifference, as Gabbert describes Auden as suggesting (he wrote this on the brink of WWII), but it can also lead to relief or acceptance or an expanded understanding of how we are all living and grieving and suffering and eating and walking at any given time. Life is defined by all of those things together, not just one of them. I suddenly thought of some lines from Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese”: Tell me about despair, yours, and I will you mine/Meanwhile, the world goes on.

I could spend the rest of the afternoon trying to find better, more precise and coherent, words to describe what I mean here, but I don’t want to. Maybe future Sara can take it up?

even more fun with medical terms!

I mentioned that I bought compression socks, or compression sleeves: they stop at the ankles, so nothing for the foot. Anyway, I decided to take out my scrabble tiles and try to do something with the letters for compression then compression sleeve.


  • Ms. Ion Corpse
  • Price on moss?
  • O Prim Scones!
  • Poem is scorn
  • Poems r icons

compression sleeve

  • Impress Console Eve
  • Crisp moon sleeves (leftover e)
  • O seem clovers spines
  • Poems never close [is]
  • moon splice verses (leftover e)