Too hot, too humid, tired. I tried running earlier today (9 am instead of 10:30), but it was still too late. Even so it was a good run that I’m glad I did. Ran the ford loop and spent the first 3.5 miles convincing myself to keep going, to not stop until I reached the overlook near the ford bridge. (I did it!) Then I put in “Dear Evan Hansen” and started running again, or should I say struggle running. Stopped a few times to walk, feeling wiped out, but kept running again. Whew.
At the start of my run, I heard the robin’s cheer up! cheer up! and a woodpecker’s knock. Later, I heard a pileated woodpecker’s laugh, not sounding exactly like Woody the woodpecker, but close enough.
Smelled wet cinnamon — dripping blossoms? — and thought about chewed-up Big Red.
Felt too hot, my face burning, probably bright red. The drip drip drip of sweat from my ponytail on my neck.
Greeted the Welcoming Oaks, noticed the floodplain forest was hidden in green.
Mary Ruefle, White, Brown
before the run
I’d like to do one color at a time, but I couldn’t decide between her white or brown color poems so I’m including both of them. I think I’ll let running Sara decide. Will she choose to focus on white things or brown things, both or neither?
from My Private Property/ Mary Ruefle
White sadness is the sadness of teeth, bones, fingernails,
and stars, yes, but it is also the sadness of cereal, shower
caps, and literary foam, it is the sadness of Aunt Jenny’s
white hair covering her body like a sheet, down to her toes,
as she lay on the sickbed, terrifying the children who were
brought in one by one to say goodbye. It is the sadness of
radio waves traveling through space forever, it is the voice
of John Lennon being interviewed, his voice growing
weaker and weaker as the waves pass eternally through a
succession of galaxies, not quite there, but still . . .
Brown sadness is the simple sadness. It is the sadness of
huge, upright stones. That is all. It is simple. Huge, up-
right stones surround the other sadness, and protect
them. A circle of huge, upright stones–who would have
Ruefle’s line about the stars and galaxies in her white sadness poem, makes me think of the new word I learned this morning from the title of a poem: sidereal
sidereal: (adj) of or with respect to the distant stars (i.e. the constellations or fixed stars, not the sun or planets).
pronounced: cy deer e ul
during the run
Running Sara tried to think about both white and brown and it worked, mostly, but green kept declaring, I’m here! Notice me! Green Green Green! So much green everywhere and all of a sudden. There I was, on the trail, running and noticing white sweatshirts tied around waists or brown leaves littering the ground, when green would hijack my thoughts. brown trunk GREEN leaves pale white sky GREEN air
5 Brown Moments and 5 White Ones
- river: brown with light brown foam
- same river from the other side: deep blue with white foam
- brown tree trunks
- a brown sound: the knocking of a woodpecker on a dead tree
- a flash of the white, almost silver, river through the trees
- a limestone wall, the part of it illuminated by sunlight was white
- white sands beach, viewed from the other side of the river
- the brown trail leading down to Shadow Falls
- a white sound: the vigorous tinkling of the falls falling
- the brown boulder with 4 small stones stacked on its top
I like listening to “Dear Evan Hansen” while I run. Together they — the emotional lyrics/music combined with how I soften as I exert myself — make me feel things: sad, tender, hopeful, a deep aching joy. I thought of how Ruefle’s color poems can be read as sadness or happiness, which then made me think of Ross Gay’s understanding of joy as both grief and delight.
Another thought I had about brown while running: Thinking about the brown sadness of Ruefle’s huge upright stones, I suddenly thought: the gorge. The gorge, with its huge limestone, sandstone walls is both brown sadness and brown happiness.
after the run
White happiness is the happiness of crisp sheets hang-
ing on the line just to the side of the farmhouse, of soft
shimmering salt pouring out of a cheap salt shaker, of a
button-down oxford reluctantly worn.
Here’s the poem about the white stars that I mentioned earlier in the post:
Consider this an elegy with silo and fever.
Call it barn and gravel and gone. Grasses’ obeisance
in the wake of a pick-up, sun searing the leaves
green to gold in the season’s time-elapse.
Where does it go, the Sunday angle of sunlight
once only yours, wide and open as a window?
Here’s what I remember: the flaking mural
on the brick wall of neighborhood grocery, saying
Food for the Revolution for twenty-five years.
Stacked landscapes in my rearview, blank as a calendar
until a bend in the road brought the Blue Ridge;
the pocked metronome of tennis balls outside
while I harnessed what I had lost and missed
in minor-key pentameter. So what, my mentor
talked back to his tercets in draft after draft:
so what so what so what. “This essay is accurate
but never ignited,” the Derridean scrawled
in red ink when I was writing about Bishop writing,
I can scarcely wait for the day of my imprisonment.
Her keen eye ever cast on the homely unheimlich.
Call this a road story about the slow burn of foliage,
about containment, what conspires against arrival.
Astonish us, Diaghilev said to Cocteau,
but all I ever wanted was to consider
its roots in the auguries of our shifting stars.
About This Poem
“‘Sidereal’ is, as the poem declares itself, a road story, a cross-country retrospective traversing decades. It is, as it also states, an elegy—in part honoring a past teacher, Larry Levis. The ‘so-what-so-what’ refrain is his, handwritten above a line on an early draft of his poem ‘Caravaggio: Swirl & Vortex.’ That self-interrogation set in motion a poem of motion that longs for dwelling—as did the swirl and vortex of etymology, sidereal and consider both deriving from sidereus, meaning ‘star,’ itself of uncertain origin.”
words I looked up, which I mostly knew, but wanted to be precise:
I like the line, barn and gravel and gone. Reading it again, and thinking about this poem about restlessness and belonging, I’m reminded of a time in my life when I tried to (still) belong to a farm that was barn and gravel and gone — a family home place, sold.