jan 23/RUN

2.3 miles
river road, north/south
32 degrees
100% sloppy wet be-puddled slushied unevenness

A great temperature for a run. An ideal what-you-imagine-when-you-imagine-a-pretty-snowy-winter scene. A terrible path. It snowed an inch or two last night. Wet, sloppy snow that’s half melted into a mess on the path. But I needed the fresh air so I put on my yaktrax and headed to the river, unsuccessfully dodging big puddles. Enduring the mess was worth it. My favorite part of the path was beautiful–the tall, slender trees had just the right amount of snow. Everything so white. I wonder what the river looked like? I didn’t glance at it even once. The air was warmer but not too warm. If the path had been clear, it would have been a wonderful day for a long run.

Read a great article about using figurative language yesterday, How to Use Simile and Metaphor Like a Boss

Metaphors and similes have two parts. There’s the tenor (the original subject we’re trying to describe) and the vehicle (the compared object we’re borrowing qualities from). So if we look at Robert Burns’s poem “A Red, Red Rose,” we see “O my Luve is like a red, red rose.” Love would be the tenor (subject) and rose would be the vehicle (object). Metaphors and similes work only when they illuminate, that is, when they help us better understand or see something by way of comparison. They should feel both apt and surprising—a hard balance! If the tenor and the vehicle seem too similar, the comparison won’t be surprising or illuminating for the reader. You really want to compare apples to oranges, not Fuji apples to McIntoshes. Or, better yet, try comparing apples to baby birds.

jan 22/RUN

4.3 miles
minnehaha falls and back
36 degrees
25% snow and puddle covered

So much warmer today. Lots of puddles and some soft, loose snow, especially at the double bridge. Gray sky. Air heavy with moisture. The oak savanna looked especially open and white and meadow-like. At its edge the dark brown, almost blackish-gray water resembled a big, empty crater not a river. Heard some kids at recess, playing on the playground. One was yelling “help” or “stop it” or something and I couldn’t tell if he was being serious and if I should be concerned. Decided he was just playing.

Encountered a man running and walking on the path. As I ran by he gasped, “you make it look so easy!” I wanted to yell back something about how I had been just like him 8.5 years ago when I started running, but I couldn’t get the words out in time. As I ran ahead I thought about how happy I am to have stuck with running and how wonderful it is to run over 4 miles and have it feel easy. A few minutes later I think I said hello to Carrie Tollefson, the former Olympian, as I neared Locks and Dam #1.

When I reached the falls I didn’t stop to look, but from my quick glances I could see the frozen water. Were the falls making any noise? I don’t remember. Did I see anyone else at the falls? I don’t remember that either.

Occasional Poem/ JACQUELINE WOODSON

Ms. Marcus says that an occasional poem is a poem
written about something
important
or special
that’s gonna happen
or already did.
Think of a specific occasion, she says—and write about it.

Like what?! Lamont asks.
He’s all slouched down in his seat.
I don’t feel like writing about no occasion.
How about your birthday? Ms. Marcus says.
What about it? Just a birthday. Comes in June and it ain’t
June, Lamont says. As a matter of fact,
he says, it’s January and it’s snowing.
Then his voice gets real low and he says
And when it’s January and all cold like this
feels like June’s a long, long ways away.

The whole class looks at Ms. Marcus.
Some of the kids are nodding.
Outside the sky looks like it’s made out of metal
and the cold, cold air is rattling the windowpanes
and coming underneath them too.

I seen Lamont’s coat.
It’s gray and the sleeves are too short.
It’s down but it looks like a lot of the feathers fell out
a long time ago.
Ms. Marcus got a nice coat.
It’s down too but real puffy so
maybe when she’s inside it
she can’t even tell January from June.

Then write about January, Ms. Marcus says, that’s
an occasion.
But she looks a little bit sad when she says it
Like she’s sorry she ever brought the whole
occasional poem thing up.

I was gonna write about Mama’s funeral
but Lamont and Ms. Marcus going back and forth
zapped all the ideas from my head.

I guess them arguing
on a Tuesday in January’s an occasion
So I guess this is an occasional poem.

I love the use of zapped in the second to last stanza: “zapped all the ideas from my head.” I love how “she can’t even tell January from June” rolls off of the tongue. And I love the idea of an occasion poem being about an argument between a teacher and student on an ordinary January day.

jan 21/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
15 degrees/ feels like 0
50% snow-covered

14 mph wind straight in my face, running south. Wasn’t expecting it to feel so cold today, so I underdressed. No hat, only a bright pink headband that covered my ears. Felt sore and a little tired, but better after having spent some time outside by the gorge. The river was open and flowing. The path was mostly clear. Noticed at least 2 dogs and their humans walking the lower path–the one that I like to run in the summer. Encountered a few other runners, no skiers or bikers. No geese. One spazzy squirrel.

I love this poem. I love how listing what you love makes you want to love harder and more expansively, and so does reading someone else’s love list.

Love/ Alex Dimitrov

I love you early in the morning and it’s difficult to love you.

I love the January sky and knowing it will change although unlike us.

I love watching people read.

I love photo booths.

I love midnight.

I love writing letters and this is my letter. To the world that never wrote to me.

I love snow and briefly.

I love the first minutes in a warm room after stepping out of the cold.

I love my twenties and want them back every day.

I love time.

I love people.

I love people and my time away from them the most.

I love the part of my desk that’s darkened by my elbows.

I love feeling nothing but relief during the chorus of a song.

I love space.

I love every planet.

I love the big unknowns but need to know who called or wrote, who’s coming—if they want the same things I do, if they want much less.

I love not loving Valentine’s Day.

I love how February is the shortest month.

I love that Barack Obama was president.

I love the quick, charged time between two people smoking a cigarette outside a bar.

I love everyone on Friday night.

I love New York City.

I love New York City a lot.

I love that day in childhood when I thought I was someone else.

I love wondering how animals perceive our daily failures.

I love the lines in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof when Brick’s father says “Life is important. There’s nothing else to hold onto.”

I love Brick.

I love that we can fail at love and continue to live.

I love writing this and not knowing what I’ll love next.

I love looking at paintings and being reminded I am alive.

I love Turner’s paintings and the sublime.

I love the coming of spring even in the most withholding March.

I love skipping anything casual—“hi, how are you, it’s been forever”—and getting straight to the center of pain. Or happiness.

I love opening a window in a room.

I love the feeling of possibility by the end of the first cup of coffee.

I love hearing anyone listen to Nina Simone.

I love Nina Simone.

I love how we can choose our own families.

I love when no one knows where I am but feel terrified to be forgotten.

I love Saturdays.

I love that despite our mistakes this will end.

I love how people get on planes to New York and California.

I love the hour after rain and the beginning of the cruelest month.

I love imagining Weldon Kees on a secret island.

I love the beach on a cloudy day.

I love never being disappointed by chocolate.

I love that morning when I was twenty and had just met someone very important (though I didn’t know it) and I walked down an almost empty State Street because it was still early and not at all late—and of course I could change everything (though I also didn’t know it)—I could find anyone, go anywhere, I wasn’t sorry for who I was.

I love the impulse to change.

I love seeing what we do with what we can’t change.

I love the moon’s independent indifference.

I love walking the same streets as Warhol.

I love what losing something does but I don’t love losing it.

I love how the past shifts when there’s more.

I love kissing.

I love hailing a cab and going home alone.

I love being surprised by May although it happens every year.

I love closing down anything—a bar, restaurant, party—and that time between late night and dawn when one lamp goes on wherever you are and you know. You know what you know even if it’s hard to know it.

I love being a poet.

I love all poets.

I love Jim Morrison for saying, “I’d like to do a song or a piece of music that’s just a pure expression of joy, like a celebration of existence, like the coming of spring or the sun rising, just pure unbounded joy. I don’t think we’ve really done that yet.”

I love everything I haven’t done.

I love looking at someone without need or panic.

I love the quiet of the trees in a new city.

I love how the sky is connected to a part of us that understands something big and knows nothing about it too.

I love the minutes before you’re about to see someone you love.

I love any film that delays resolution.

I love being in a cemetery because judgment can’t live there.

I love being on a highway in June or anytime at all.

I love magic.

I love the zodiac.

I love all of my past lives.

I love that hour of the party when everyone’s settled into their discomfort and someone tells you something really important—in passing—because it’s too painful any other way.

I love the last moments before sleep.

I love the promise of summer.

I love going to the theater and seeing who we are.

I love glamour—shamelessly—and all glamour. Which is not needed to live but shows people love life. What else is it there for? Why not ask for more?

I love red shoes.

I love black leather.

I love the grotesque ways in which people eat ice cream—on sidewalks, alone—however they need it, whenever they feel free enough.

I love being in the middle of a novel.

I love how mostly everyone in Jane Austen is looking for love.

I love July and its slowness.

I love the idea of liberation and think about it all the time.

I love imagining a world without money.

I love imagining a life with enough money to write when I want.

I love standing in front of the ocean.

I love that sooner or later we forget even “the important things.”

I love how people write in the sand, on buildings, on paper. Their own bodies. Fogged mirrors. Texts they’ll draft but never send.

I love silence.

I love owning a velvet cape and not knowing how to cook.

I love that instant when an arc of light passes through a room and I’m reminded that everything really is moving.

I love August and its sadness.

I love Sunday for that too.

I love jumping in a pool and how somewhere on the way up your body relaxes and accepts the shock of the water.

I love Paris for being Paris.

I love Godard’s films.

I love anyplace that makes room for loneliness.

I love how the Universe is 95% dark matter and energy and somewhere in the rest of it there is us.

I love bookstores and the autonomy when I’m in one.

I love that despite my distrust in politics I am able to vote.

I love wherever my friends are.

I love voting though know art and not power is what changes human character.

I love what seems to me the discerning indifference of cats.

I love the often uncomplicated joy of dogs.

I love Robert Lax for living alone.

I love the extra glass of wine happening somewhere, right now.

I love schools and teachers.

I love September and how we see it as a way to begin.

I love knowledge. Even the fatal kind. Even the one without “use value.”

I love getting dressed more than getting undressed.

I love mystery.

I love lighting candles.

I love religious spaces though I’m sometimes lost there.

I love the sun for worshipping no one.

I love the sun for showing up every day.

I love the felt order after a morning of errands.

I love walking toward nowhere in particular and the short-lived chance of finding something new.

I love people who smile only when moved to.

I love that a day on Venus lasts longer than a year.

I love Whitman for writing, “the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events; / These come to me days and nights and go from me again, / But they are not the Me myself.”

I love October when the veil between worlds is thinnest.

I love how at any moment I could forgive someone from the past.

I love the wind and how we never see it.

I love the performed sincerity in pornography and wonder if its embarrassing transparency is worth adopting in other parts of life.

I love how magnified emotions are at airports.

I love dreams. Conscious and unconscious. Lived and not yet.

I love anyone who risks their life for their ideal one.

I love Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

I love how people make art even in times of impossible pain.

I love all animals.

I love ghosts.

I love that we continue to invent meaning.

I love the blue hours between three and five when Plath wrote Ariel.

I love that despite having one body there are many ways to live.

I love November because I was born there.

I love people who teach children that most holidays are a product of capitalism and have little to do with love—which would never celebrate massacre—which would never care about money or greed.

I love people who’ve quit their jobs to be artists.

I love you for reading this as opposed to anything else.

I love the nostalgia of the future.

I love that the tallest mountain in our solar system is safe and on Mars.

I love dancing.

I love being in love with the wrong people.

I love that on November 23, 1920, Virginia Woolf wrote, “We have bitten off a large piece of life—but why not? Did I not make out a philosophy some time ago which comes to this—that one must always be on the move?”

I love how athletes believe in the body and know it will fail them.

I love dessert for breakfast.

I love all of the dead.

I love gardens.

I love holding my breath under water.

I love whoever it is untying our shoes.

I love that December is summer in Australia.

I love statues in a downpour.

I love how no matter where on the island, at any hour, there’s at least one lit square at the top or bottom of a building in Manhattan.

I love diners.

I love that the stars can’t be touched.

I love getting in a car and turning the keys just to hear music.

I love ritual.

I love chance too.

I love people who have quietly survived being misunderstood yet remain kids.

And yes, I love that Marilyn Monroe requested Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” to be played at her funeral. And her casket was lined in champagne satin. And Lee Strasberg ended his eulogy by saying, “I cannot say goodbye. Marilyn never liked goodbyes, but in the peculiar way she had of turning things around so that they faced reality, I will say au revoir.”

I love the different ways we have of saying the same thing.

I love anyone who cannot say goodbye.

jan 20/RUN

4.3 miles
minnehaha falls and back
10 degrees
100% snow-covered

What a wonderful day for a run! Hardly any wind. The feels like temperature is the same as the actual temperature. The path isn’t too slippery or sloppy or soft. The sun is shining, the sky is bright blue, the path isn’t crowded.

Reached the river and turned right today. Briefly glanced at the oak savanna. Looked at the open water on the river. Noticed a big hulking mound of snow near a bench. A mutated snowman? Not sure. Listened to my feet crunching on the path, scratching more than usual because of my yaktrax.

The falls are mostly frozen with only a small stream of water still falling. A handful of people came to look, most up above by me, some down below, exploring the ice columns in the off-limits area. Heard the creek still moving–not quite rushing–towards the edge.

Heading back, I put in my headphones and listened to a playlist. Admired my shadow as she led me home. Looked up and saw a big bird or a plane–can’t remember which now–in the sky. Heard some geese.

Anything else? This run made me happy. I smiled a lot at the passing cars and the snow-covered trees. Also, I stopped at the double bridge and walked in the deeper snow of the walking path. Looked down at the ravine, then at the snow on the path which was so bright and white that it seemed blue.

Smells and Poetry, a few recent and one not so recent encounter

1. Pungency

Of course, I don’t want my children to have exactly the same childhood as I did: that would almost be a definition of conservatism. But I would like them to be assaulted by the pungency, by the vivid strength and strangeness of detail, as I was as a child; and I want them to notice and remember. (I’m also aware that worrying about lack of pungency is a peculiarly middle-class, Western affliction; much of the world is full of people suffering from a surfeit of bloody pungency.) from The Nearest Thing to Life/ James Wood

2. The Smell of a Thought

one thing i love about poetry is how thinking and feeling don’t need to be distinguished. a thought that is a strange passion, yes. a feeling that is a philosophical argument, yes. and both physical, sensory too. the taste of a feeling. the smell of a thought. a tweet from @chenchenwrites

3. Smells and Memory, an Exercise

Jot down some smells that are appealing to you. For each one, describe the memory or experience associated with that smell, making sure you bring in the other sense in your description. Write a poem for each smell. Do the same with smells you don’t like. from The Poetry Companion/ Kim Addonizio

4. Smelling the Entrails of a Failed Soul

What Nietzsche writes about bad air in On the Genealogy of Morals: “What is it exactly that I find so totally unbearable? Something which I cannot deal with on my own, which makes me choke and feel faint? Bad air! Bad air! It’s when something which has failed comes close to me, when I have to smell the entrails of a failed soul!”

jan 19/RUN

4 miles
trestle turn around + extra
5 degrees/feels like -8
100% snow-covered

A winter wonderland. Cold, but not too cold–at least not for me. Fluffy flurries in the air. The path was covered with snow but it was packed and not too slippery. Just before starting my run, I listened to the snow, grinding as my foot stepped down and shushing as it lifted off of the ground. Not too long after I started, I saw 2–yes 2!–cross country skiers about to head down into the tunnel of trees. Nice. Had a few brief glances at the river but was focused more on avoiding big snow clumps/ice chunks on the path. Encountered some walkers, dogs, at least one fat tire, a few other runners. Was able to greet the Daily Walker twice, once heading north, and again heading south. Didn’t hear any geese today. Saw lots of cars. While running the cold didn’t bother me after the first mile. When I stopped my skin started to burn. Not sure why, but the part of me that gets the coldest after a run is my stomach. Not my arms or fingers or toes. It burns and for several minutes it’s bright red. Why?

Looked it up, and here’s what I found:

When you exercise, the working muscles call for an increase in blood flow. Oxygen is essential to energy production and blood supplies it. … During running your body is not focusing on digestion, urination or reproduction, so blood is diverted from the stomach area, which may be cause for a cold stomach while running.

Interesting and nothing to worry about. Later in the article it states, “This is no cause for concern. If your stomach is cold, your body is doing it’s job.” Good job body!

Right now I’m reading the awesome book, Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder. Love this description of poetry:

Poems exist to create a space for the possibilities of language as material. That is what distinguishes them from all other forms of writing. Poems allow language its inherent provisionality, uncertainty, and slippages. They also give space for its physicality–the way it sounds, looks, feels in the mouth–to itself make meaning (12).

Wow, this poem! I love Marie Howe.

Singularity/ Marie Howe

   (after Stephen Hawking)

Do you sometimes want to wake up to the singularity
we once were?

so compact nobody
needed a bed, or food or money—

nobody hiding in the school bathroom
or home alone

pulling open the drawer
where the pills are kept.

For every atom belonging to me as good
Belongs to you.   Remember?
There was no   Nature.    No
 them.   No tests
to determine if the elephant
grieves her calf    or if

the coral reef feels pain.    Trashed
oceans don’t speak English or Farsi or French;

would that we could wake up   to what we were
— when we were ocean    and before that
to when sky was earth, and animal was energy, and rock was
liquid and stars were space and space was not

at all — nothing

before we came to believe humans were so important
before this awful loneliness.

Can molecules recall it?
what once was?    before anything happened?

No I, no We, no one. No was
No verb      no noun
only a tiny tiny dot brimming with

is is is is is

All   everything   home

jan 18/SHOVELBIKE

Shovel: 30 minutes
Bike: 25 minutes

Winter cross training often involves shoveling. No big storm this time. Maybe 5 or 6 inches? Tried to use my legs a lot instead of arms and back. Heavy snow with a icy crust. I’m hoping that they’ve already cleared the path by the river. Usually they do. I’ll see tomorrow morning if it isn’t too cold. Just heard the weather forecast as I was writing this: a high of 5 tomorrow. Watched part of the second episode of Cheer in the basement while I biked. The time went by really fast. Don’t remember much except for how much better I felt after I exercised.

What a poem! I want to spend some time with it to decipher all the uses of pine. So cool. This might be a good form for another running route Unigrid brochure? I’ll have to think about that some more.

Pine
Susan Stewart – 1952-

a homely word:
a plosive, a long cry, a quiet stop, a silent letter
like a storm and the end of a storm,
the kind brewing
at the top of a pine,
(torn hair, bowed spirits, and,
later, straightened shoulders)
who’s who of the stirred and stirred up:
musicians, revolutionaries, pines.

A coniferous tree with needle-shaped leaves.
Suffering or trouble; there’s a pin inside.

The aphoristic seamstress was putting up a hem, a shelf of pins at her
pursed mouth.
“needles and pins / needles and pins / when a man marries / his trouble begins.”
A red pincushion with a twisted string, and a little pinecone tassel, at the
ready.

That particular smell, bracing,
exact as a sharpened point.

The Christmas tree, nude and fragrant,
propped as pure potential in
the corner with no nostalgia for
ornament or angels.

“Pine-Sol,” nauseating, earnest, imitation—
one means of knowing the real thing is the fake you find in school.
Pent up inside on a winter day, the steaming closeness from the radiators.

At the bell, running down the hillside. You wore a pinafore.
The air had a nip: pine
was traveling in the opposite direction.

Sunlight streaming through a stand of pines,
dancing backward through the A’s and T’s.

Is it fern or willow that’s the opposite of pine?

An alphabet made of trees.

In the clearing vanished hunters
left their arrowheads
and deep cuts in the boulder wall:
petroglyphs, repeating triangles.

Grandmothers wearing pinnies trimmed in rickrack.
One family branch lived in a square of oak forest, the other in a circle of
pines;
the oak line: solid, reliable, comic; the piney one capable of pain
and surprise.

W-H-I-T-E: the white pine’s five-frond sets spell its name. (Orthography of
other pines I don’t yet know.)

The weight of snow on boughs, lethargic, then rocked by the thump of a
settling crow.

Pinecones at the Villa Borghese: Fibonacci increments,
heart-shaped veins, shadowing the inner
edges of the petals.
Like variations at the margins of a bird feather.
Graffiti tattooing the broken
water clock, a handful
of pine nuts, pried out, for lunch.

Pining away like Respighi with your pencil.

For a coffin, you’d pick a plain
pine box suspended in a weedy sea.

No undergrowth, though, in a pine forest.

Unlike the noisy wash
of dry deciduous leaves,
the needles blanket the earth

pliant beneath a bare foot,
stealthy,
floating,
a walk through the pines.

Silence in the forest comes from books.

jan 17/RUN

5.5 miles
Annie Young Meadows turn around
10 degrees/ feels like -4
30% snow-covered

A big snowstorm (9-12 inches) is moving in this afternoon, so I wanted to get out on the mostly clear path before it was covered in snow again. Cold today, lots of layers: 2 pairs of running tights, 2 pairs of socks, green shirt, pink jacket, gray jacket, 2 pairs of gloves, a hood, a hat, a buff. Maybe if I had fancier high-tech tights I could get away with less layers, but I guess I’m cheap. Figured out before I headed out on my run that one pair of tights and the green shirt are at least 6 1/2 years old. It is time to get some new ones–I think it’s not that I’m cheap, but that I don’t like shopping or spending money.


aside: Sitting at my desk upstairs, looking out the window, I just saw the big white dog and his human walk by. I mentioned this dog a few weeks ago and how they mimic the walk of their human. It used to be an exaggerated shuffle. Today the human was pushing a walker with the dog ahead of him. Hunched over the walker, his back was almost horizontal. Sad that he has so much trouble walking these days but great that he’s still getting outside. That is my goal. To walk outside until I absolutely can’t.


The path by the welcoming oaks was in bad shape, so was the stretch around 29th. The rest of it was better. So wonderful to be running on bare pavement out in the fresh air! Heard some geese flying near the trestle. Low in the sky. Decided to run down the Franklin Hill so I could check out the water. Slushy and icy and thick. Running north, it looked still, but when I stopped at Annie Young Meadows Park, I realized it was moving slowly towards the falls. I watched the chunks of ice travel beside me as I started running south. Not many people out today–less than a handful of walkers and runners. One fat tire.

Almost forgot! A few days ago, I saw a cross country skier skiing in the boulevard between Edmund and the West River Parkway. Nice!

Sprinted up the final hill–the one that’s on the path above the tunnel of trees. Guess this is my new end of run ritual. I always wonder what the cars think of me as I try to speed up the hill. Do I look fast? Strange? Do they question why I’m out here in the cold? I also try not to imagine one of these cars, slipping on hidden ice, driving up one curb and crashing into me. Has that ever happened to anyone on this stretch?

This morning, scrolling through twitter, I found a link to this cool poetry walk which is on an amazing looking site: Trance Poetics: A collaborative site for language&healing arts to counter the apopocyplitic energies that are contaminating the physical and psychic field of language. I want to try this walk–should I try it as a run?

Kristin Prevallet’s Poetry Walk (a modified version of original walk by Lundy Martin)

This is a 45 minute exploratory walk. Spend 45 minutes walking, and return to this spot where you began. Please do this exercise ALONE! Write short passages or sentences for each instruction, spending a maximum of 5 minutes in one place. First thought, best thought. 

1.   Walk outside for in a random direction to an area that appeals to you. Stop and sit down. Write a sentence that describes where you are and how you got there.

2. Write an invocation to someone/something you miss terribly. (Begin your line with an Ode: Oh, _____).

Walk to another location. When you have arrived, sit down.

3. Close your eyes and listen. Write what you are hearing that you didn’t notice before.

4.  Describe a memory of your childhood using details from an architectural structure that is visible from where you sit.

Turn around and face the opposite direction.

5.  Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).

Walk somewhere else. Sit down.

6. Write a sentence in which you contradict something you wrote earlier. 

Face another direction. 

7. Pull out your phone and write down the last text message that you received. Write what you really want to say to this person. 

8.  Write a sentence in which an emotion springs into action as in: “the frustration cleaned the house” or “the depression switched off the lights.”

9.  Study another’s body movements/gestures from a distance. Mention at least two of these gestures.

Walk for 5 minutes.

10. Write a sentence beginning with the phrase, “I remember.”

Walk to another location. Stop.

11.    Imagine yourself at a time in the not to distant future, feeling the way you want to feel and living the life you want to be leading. Write into this future tense, as if what you are writing is a prediction.

12.     Write a consoling phrase from a language other than English.

13.     Mention something about the weather without making it known you are talking about the weather.

Spin around. Sit down.

15.     Close your eyes. Breathe out for a count of 6, and in for a count of 3. Do that four times. Write: What’s everything that you are not thinking about? 

16.     Make a nonhuman object say or do something to someone who injured you as a child.

17. Make up an instruction and insert it here. 

18.   Give this piece a title that comes from one of the lines you have written so far.

jan 16/RUN

bike: 24 minutes
bike stand, basement

run: 1.25 miles
treadmill, basement

Didn’t want to run too much today, so decided to go down to the basement. Of course, the -10/ feels like -25 also influenced my decision. But if I hadn’t already run twice yesterday, I might have tried going outside because I’m crazy that way. Finished the first episode of Cheer! that I started last week. From the teacher who was very committed to her right to bear arms, “hell yeah! I’m packing right now!”, to the 2 concussions suffered in one pyramid rehearsal–those sounds of loud smacks on the floor as the girls fell!–to the male cheerleader who was kneed in the face and had to put a tampon up his nose to stop the bleeding, this was an intense 20 minutes. Wow.

TEN YEARS LATER MY HUSBAND WALKS OUT OF THE WOODS/ Emily Pérez

after “Hans My Hedgehog”

In one version you remove your coat
of quills at dusk, drape it by the hearthside.

My father’s bravest men then burst
into our room and net the carapace, fling

it in the waiting blaze, burn the thorns
that stippled you. The hollow spires

in the fire sing like copper smelted,
the slag amassing on the flagstones

cooling to a twisted fist of all that had you
hinged. Unmasked at last you stand

before me, born anew: not a monster, not
a man, but a fledgling flayed. Oh husband,

what soulbrave bargain have you made
that leaves you so tender, and how

am I to salvage you?— just wife, not
witch, not doctor.

Author’s Note

I’ve been obsessed with the Grimm’s fairy tale “Hans My Hedgehog” for years. In addition to featuring a hedgehog who plays bagpipes and rides a rooster, it provides some crazy inroads for thinking about parenting and marriage. As in many fairy tales, a father promises his daughter to the hero, who, in this case is a hedgehog. Later, the hedgehog decides to permanently take on human form for his wife’s sake, which involves shedding his coat of quills and having it burned by his wife’s father’s men. The rebirth chars him. In the years that I tinkered with this story as a source for poems, my husband made a major life change that felt both morally brave and (perhaps) personally foolish. As his partner, I felt compelled to be supportive but also inadequate to the task. This poem gets at my ambivalence.

I loved reading the explanation of this poem and then reading the poem again. Powerful. I also like the idea of taking a favorite fairytale and re-imaging it.

jan 15/RUN

run 1: 2.5 miles
river road, south/north
21 degrees
50% snow-covered

Such a beautiful morning for a run! Not too cold or too windy. A few flurries in the air. I’m planning to go to stadium running tonight with Scott, but I couldn’t resist getting out by the gorge this morning. It’s supposed to be ridiculously cold tomorrow morning and then lots of snow on Friday. I need to enjoy the clear path while I can. Running south today, I was able to admire the oak savanna from above. Don’t remember the trees, just the bare white stretching out. Oh–and the sound of a kid laughing and an empty stroller parked at the top of the trail that leads down into the savanna. Looked down at the river and noticed the variation in color–a pale blue then brown. Realized the blue was a thin layer of ice, the brown open water. Is that right? I’m pretty sure, but I debated it for a minute in my head. I was too far away and moving too fast to be sure. Admired the beautiful curve of the retaining wall above the ravine near the 44th street parking lot. Thought about trying out a bit of the Winchell Trail but wimped out. Too much snow. Heard groups of kids out on the playgrounds of the 2 schools I passed, out for recess.

run 2: 3.25 miles
us bank stadium

Ran at the stadium with Scott. Again, not together, but at the same time and in the same place. Encountered a wonderful human in the elevator on the way upstairs. Long white hair, a ice skating/ roller skating skirt, cool rollerblades, a mustache maybe? Scott said he’s seen them roller blading by the river a lot in green tights. Not sure if I have. They got off the elevator before us, planning to roller blade instead of run. My younger self would have loved to roller blade (or roller skate) there. In 4th grade, way back in 1984, I was the roller skating queen of Salem, VA (at least in my own head). Went to the rink as many Saturdays as I could.

They were playing much better music today–“rock and roll ain’t noise pollution” RUSH, the Police–but I still ran with my headphones. Made sure to look down at the field, which was being prepared for an upcoming monster truck rally, and out the window at downtown. Realized why I hadn’t looked out these windows on Monday. It’s at the narrowest part of the route and I was too busy paying attention to not running into carts or other runners.

Not sure what the floor of the concourse is made of–concrete?–but it’s harder on the legs. The first mile felt awkward as I tried to adjust to the increased pounding my calves were experiencing.

Yesterday, I was skimming through Theodore Roethke’s book on poetry and craft and found these:

To day there’s no time for the
mistakes of a long and slow
development: dazzle or die.

Dazzle or die.

Are there dangers? Of course.
There are dangers every time I
open my mouth, hence at
times when I keep it shut, I try
to teach by grunts, sights,
shrugs.

jan 14/RUN

3.2 miles
trestle turn around
27 degrees
100% slushy loose snow-covered

It snowed a few inches on Sunday, a few more last night. Not enough to plow but enough to cause problems on the path. Wore my yak trax and that helped. Except for the bad stretch between the lake street bridge and the trestle. It’s always windy and the path is always covered. Nearing the trestle, my legs felt really tired from all of the sliding around I was doing. I stopped to take a break and put my headphones in. This seems to be a trend: running one way with no headphones, the other with them in. Not sure if I like this habit. It’s harder to listen to the gorge with headphones in.

the daily delight

Just after I reached the river, running on the bike path near the road, I heard a shimmering shaking sound as the wind blew roughly through some dead leaves on the trees closer to the gorge. It was my friends, the Welcoming Oaks! I imagined that they were calling out to me, “Hi friend, we miss you. When will you run on the walking path near us again?”

a strange image

With a quick glance down, the river looked like a brown wall to me. Flat and vertical instead of horizontal. So strange. Looking again, for longer, it stopped being a wall.

the daily walker

Perhaps the biggest reason I take note of and remember the Daily Walker is that he is always by the gorge walking. No matter what the weather. Usually wearing 2 long sleeved shirts and no coat. Rarely a hat. Since I started writing in this log, I’ve seen him almost every time I’ve ran. I admire his consistency and aspire to be him in a few decades. But there is another reason I take note of him: his gait. I’m not sure what happened to him–maybe he had a stroke?–but his arm swing–I think his left arm–is very exaggerated. It swings out wide. This swinging motion is how I can see that it is him. Without it, I’m not sure I would remember him. Even after passing him hundreds of times. I hardly ever remember faces anymore because I can’t see them clearly. I rely on other features–hair, clothes, how a body moves. As I near someone on the path, I always look for the tell-tale swing and I know it is him. Today he was there and we greeted each other.

A few days ago, I watched the short documentary, Notes on Blindness. Wow! Discovered that it’s been turned into a longer documentary and that it’s on Netflix. Cool. I’ll need to watch that soon. At some point in the film while discussing how we can’t see or remember his wife’s or kids’ faces, Hull asks,

To what extent is the loss of the image of the face tied up with the loss of the image of the self and with the consequent feeling of being a ghost or a mere spirit?

I can still see the outline of faces and haven’t lost my memory of ones important to me, but this idea of losing a sense of the self–at least a self beside other selves–because I can’t see faces, resonates for me. When I don’t recognize family members’ and friends’ faces, I feel less human, more spectral.