april 28/BIKERUN

bike/bike stand: 30 minutes
run/treadmill: 1.5 miles
rain
Deaths from COVID-19: 301 (MN)/ 57,533 (US)

Rain all day. In a few days, everything green. Green green green. I like the green but it always comes too much too soon. Biked in the basement while watching more of the Agatha Christie movie. Enjoying it. Then, ran on the treadmill. Listened to a playlist, fell into a trance.

I didn’t recite my memorized poem today, but decided to recite and record it during my cool down, walking on the treadmill. Realized, before my workout, that I had not memorized the first stanza. Somehow I had left it off my log post. Oops. I’ll have to practice it a lot: “It has been so wet stones glaze in moss;/everything blooms coldly” “It has been so wet stones glaze in moss;/everything blooms coldly”

Dear One Absent This Long While, recorded 4/28

I stumbled over a few words, and it sounds like I said “pawny” instead of “pony” but I recited the whole thing. Nice. I don’t quite own these words yet, but I will soon.

use better words || use words better

Yesterday, while trying to figure out some succinct ways to describe the creative experiments I’m doing in my run project, I came up with this concept. I want to find and use better words–words that allow for new understandings, that more effectively communicate my experiences, that make me/others feel things, that foster curiosity. And, I want to use words better–to be more deliberate and precise and thoughtful in my choices so that my words generate movement and encourage others to think and be curious.

the Subway/Eat Fresh birds

A few days ago, inspired by 2 birds chatting, I imagined what they might be saying–including: bird 1: Subway/ bird 2: Eat Fresh. Scott was inspired by another similar bird conversation this morning. He recorded them, figured out what notes they were singing and then played around on his keyboard with them. Very cool.

birds singing in the rain, april 28
Birdsong in the rain, Room 34

I’m hoping we can collaborate on a sound/poetry project about these birds–probably one that doesn’t involve referring to the birds as Subway and Eat Fresh, but who knows? Anyway, as a starting point, I wrote down a list of 2 syllable calls and responses:

Be here
Not here
Beside
Be Safe
Deep Down
Lost Ones
Release
Slow down
Rethink
Listen
Sink in
Undo
Nothing
Delight
Been there
Terror
Old ways
New ways
Broke down
How to

Not there
Not there
Beyond
Steer clear
We knew
Stay gone
Forget
Down size
Reprise
Loosen
Retreat
Rebuild
To do
Sorrow
Done that
Wonder
Destroyed
Unfurl
Remade
Be now?

april 16/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes, bike stand
run: 1.45 miles, treadmill
Deaths from COVID-19: 94 (MN)/ 31,628 (US)

It’s not too cold or windy outside today but I decided to workout in the basement anyway. Watched more of the Agatha Christie movie on Netflix. I’m really enjoying it so far. Then ran for about 10 minutes on the treadmill while I listened to a playlist.

Right now I’m working on a poem tentatively titled, “How to Sink.” It’s inspired by all the sinking and keeping and dripping I’ve noticed running beside the gorge and by the current need to retreat/withdraw/go deep inside.

How to Sink/ Sara Lynne Puotinen (draft 1)

Think
of that time
when your young son
was so mad all he
could do was turn to goo

and
slowly ooze
down the couch in
surrender to the
floor. Not giving in
but giving up control,

a
puddle of
body parts pooled
at your feet. Go to the

gorge.
Let your bones
dissolve, your legs
liquefy, submit
to gravity sliding

down
reaching ground
seeping deeper
through layers of loam,
sandstone, limestone, shale.

Drop
lower and
lower burrow
through cracks and fissures
carve out a way in

and
follow it
further inside
so far that outside is
another idea.

note: “follow it further inside so far that outside is another idea” is taken from a Paul Tran poem, The Cave.

Read it to Scott and he mentioned that “goo” stood out too much. I’m having trouble thinking of another word that fits the idea and the syllable count of the line so I’m keeping it in for now.

april 12/BIKERUNSHOVEL

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.6 miles
treadmill, basement
shovel: 15 minutes
deck, back yard
Deaths from COVID-19: 70 (MN)/ 21,692 (US)

Woke up to snow. Took a walk with Scott and Delia the dog in it. At first, walking south, it was great. No wind. Snow gently coming down. I thought about running outside. But, then we turned the corner. Wind, snow blowing in our faces. No running outside for me. So I worked out in the basement instead. Started watching “Agatha and the Truth of Murder” on Netflix while I biked. Listened to a playlist while I ran. Coming out of the basement, glancing outside, I was overwhelmed by white. 5 or 6 inches, I think. Hopefully it will stop soon. Decided to quickly shovel the deck. Such heavy, wet snow.

April Snow

Snow in April is not surprising. Last year on the 11th and 12th of April it snowed. On April 16th, 2018, we got over 20 inches! No snow in 2017 but I found a video I did from April 11th, 2013 when it snowed. It snowed a lot in April 2013.

april 9/BIKERUN

bike: 28 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.8 miles
treadmill, basement
Deaths from COVID-19: 50 (MN), 15,774 (US)

11 deaths in MN reported for today. Up from 39 yesterday. A big jump. The peak here is supposed to hit at the end of April. We’re expected to have almost 600 deaths.

Very windy today. Decided to bike and run in the basement. Before heading down there, I sat at my desk upstairs, looked out at the small pellets of snow coming down–looking like little styrofoam balls–and memorized the beautiful poem, And Swept All Visible Signs Away/ Carl Phillips. I was drawn to it back in September because of Phillip’s discussion of seeing the face and connection and the line about wanting less for company than for compassion.

What’s a face, to a willow?

Thinking about my difficulty in seeing faces, I wondered (and still do): What’s a face, to me? Is a face–having it, recognizing it, expressing with it–necessary for connection?

If a willow had a face, it would be a song. I think.

I like the idea of the willow’s face (does face = Oliver Sack’s definition in his essay about face blindness: that which “bears the stamp of our experiences, our character”?) being a song, this song: “I am stirred, I’m stir-able, I am a wind-stirred thing.” What is my song? What might the songs of those I love–Scott, my kids–be? Fun to think about.

For the first 5 minutes of my bike ride, I recited the poem out loud. I can’t remember if I recited it when I started my run.

Speaking of not seeing faces, this morning my daughter was talking to me. I was sitting at my desk, she was on the couch, in the shadows. Looking at her for several minutes as she told me about her homework, I couldn’t see her facial features at all. Her head was a shadowy blob with hair. I could, however, see her hand gestures. Her small, graceful hands waved and pointed and flexed and reached out as she discussed her assignment. I did not need to see her face or her eyes to understand her.

april 4/WALKBIKERUN

walk 1: 2 miles
Edmund Bvld
30 degrees
Deaths from COVID-19: 24 (MN)/ 8,407 (US)

Walked with Scott, Delia the Dog, and my daughter this morning. Nice, crisp air. Sunny. Hardly any wind. A perfect morning for a run, but I decided to only walk. Trying not to push it too much with the running. They’ve turned the river parkway into a one-way and created a lane for walkers. Will this help enable people to get more distance from each other? Not sure. I’ll check it out tomorrow when I run. Felt great to be outside and moving. Heard at least one cardinal, several crows, a woodpecker. Anything else? There were traces of the snow from yesterday still settled around the trees in the grass by Edmund. Walked by the Cyclops Baby on the garage door again. Enjoyed walking with my daughter–only her second time outside in almost a month.

bike: 27 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.1 miles
treadmill, basement

Gave myself another easy day in the basement today. Watched some of a Joan Didion documentary–The Center Will Not Hold–and listened to Harry Styles as I ran. Don’t remember thinking about much. Happy to be able to move and breathe and not always be worrying.

Poem/ Charles Bernstein – 1950-

here. Forget.
There are simply tones
cloudy, breezy
birds & so on.
Sit down with it.
It’s time now.
There is no more natural sight.
Anyway transform everything
silence, trees
commitment, hope
this thing inside you
flow, this movement of eyes
set of words
all turns, all grains.
At night, shift
comets, “twirling planets,
suns, bits of illuminated pumice”
pointing out, in harsh tones
cancers & careers.
“Newer Limoges please.”
Pick some value
mood, idea, type or smell of paper
iridescent, lackluster
&, “borne in peach vessels,”
just think
“flutter & cling”
with even heavier sweep
unassuaged
which are the things
of a form, etc
that inhere.
Fair adjustment
becomes space between
crusts of people
strange, rending:
as sound of some importance
diffuses
“as dark red circles”
digress, reverberate
connect, unhook.
Your clothes, for example
face, style
radiate mediocrity
coyly, slipping
& in how many minutes
body & consciousness
deflect, “flame on flare”
missed purpose.
Your eyes
glaze
thought stumbles, blinded
speck upon speck
ruffling edges.
“But do not be delighted yet.”
The distance positively entrances.
Take out pad & pen
crystal cups, velvet ashtray
with the gentility of easy movement
evasive, unaccountable
& puffing signs
detach, unhinge
beyond weeds, chill
with enthusiastic smile
& new shoes
“by a crude rotation”
hang
a bulk of person
“ascending,” “embodied.”

I want to spend some time with this poem, thinking about it. Check out the erasure I did of it on April 6th.

april 3/BIKE

bike: 35 minutes
bike stand, basement
Deaths from COVID-19: 22 (MN)/ 6,605 (US)

Biking in the basement this afternoon. When I went down there, everything was brown. When I came back up, most of it was white. A dusting of snow. Classic April in Minnesota. Finished the documentary about Merrily We Roll Along while I biked. Lots of great reflections on what we do/fail to do with our lives.

Decided not to run today. Time to give my legs a break. It’s difficult not running. It really helps with stress over rising body counts and expected surges in cases. But it would be worse to run and get injured so I didn’t run.

Found out last night that they have cancelled all summer parks activities. No open swim this year. No open beaches at all. So sad, but necessary. I can’t imagine swimming this summer. It will be hard to wait another year–will all of my central vision be gone by then? Will I even be able to see the buoys to swim?

BREATH/ Lee Potts

We can only carry so much breath with us
and I learned then that it may not be enough.
 

Every summer morning, we rushed
to be the first body to break
the pool surface, still
and cold as a bare marble altar
long stripped of cloth and candle.

Diving from the deep end’s edge
I followed my open, empty hands
into what was once
mist or cloud or untidy ocean
before being bleached
and boxed in for us.

Down toward the drain,
a starless night sky
just beyond its iron grate.

A thin current pulled past.
Ghost tide needing no moon,
that never turned, that kept
whatever it washed away.

Love this line: “what was once/ mist or cloud or untidy ocean/ before being bleached/ and boxed in for us.” Also the idea of a starless night sky by the drain and a thin current.

march 22/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.4 miles
treadmill, basement
169 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 1 death

It’s windy out there today. 20 mph wind. Plus, it’s Sunday so I imagine there are a lot more people on the trails. Decided to bike and run in the basement. Started the Joan Didion netflix documentary, “The center will not hold” while I biked. An interesting thing I learned: Didion’s family was part of the Donner Party but didn’t follow them when they made a wrong turn heading south. I read an excellent book about the Donner Party a few years ago (The Best Land Under Heaven) and remember reading about that moment when the party had to decide which way to go, and chose incorrectly. Listened to my playlist, Sara 2020, while I ran. Very glad we bought a treadmill last year.

I took Delia on a walk earlier today. It was quiet and windy and not too crowded. I don’t remember feeling the wind that much, but I could hear it rolling over my head. It wasn’t loud. No shrieks or howls or moans. But it was intense. A sudden rush of sibilance—-sssssssshhhhhhhhhsssssshhhhhhh. A crash without the boom. I encountered a few people, but we all managed to avoid getting too close. Reaching Edmund Bvld, just across from the river parkway, I heard and then saw 3 runners spread across the bike path. Talking so loudly! It’s amazing how one voice can spoil the silence. I can tell that I am going to have to try even harder to see the best in people. It’s too easy to be scared and irritated by noisy people who take up too much space and don’t seem to care about their impact on others. I want to focus on the people who pay attention and keep their distance–more of them exist, I believe.

Decided to cast a spell on the scary, awful word, pandemic. So I wrote it across the top of my notebook and listed as many words as I could think of using the letters p, a, n, d, e, m, i, c. Then I put some of the words together in little lines. My lines need more work before they become a poem, but here a few fun ones:

P A N D E M I C

A dime a dance

Nice denim!

Ma and Pa
made camp
pined-in

end pain
ice mice

Am I amped?

I am in Pac-Man pain

Damn, I can dance

Mince mead

A mad maid made ade

Me, panic?

End a nap, mend a cap
Cap a pen, ape amen

A pea, a pan
A man named Dan

Not sure if anything will come out of this wordplay, but it’s fun and pandemic doesn’t seem quite as scary as it did before.

march 1/WALKBIKE

walk: 3 miles
longfellow + normandale lake district
bike: 15 minutes
bike stand, basement

Walked Delia the dog twice today, both times with Scott. Feels like spring. Lots of melting and dripping and sunshine. Love the sunshine, dislike the mess this warmer weather makes. Spring in Minnesota is always complicated. Saw a funny meme the other day called “The Many Seasons of Minnesota”:

  • Winter
  • Sucker’s Spring
  • Second Winter
  • Fake Spring
  • Third Winter
  • Actual Spring
  • Summer
  • Fool’s Fall
  • Summer Again
  • Real Fall
  • Winter is Coming

As one of my friend’s posted on facebook, today (and the upcoming week) is sucker’s spring.

Finished up The Ring this afternoon while biking. Creepy. Looked it up and there is The Ring Two, but it’s not available on Netflix or Hulu. Bummer. I’ll have to find something else to watch.

feb 28/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.5 miles
treadmill, basement

Wanted to watch more of The Ring and to not run too much so I worked out in the basement today. The Ring was still creepy–and fun to watch. Only a few scenes were too dark to see and it didn’t matter that I couldn’t read the words that were probably important; I’ve already seen this movie. Listened to my playlist while I ran. Got into a rhythm and felt like I was barely touching the belt. I’m getting used to running on the treadmill.

I was okay running inside because I had already gone for a walk earlier with Delia the dog. Brr. It felt cold outside. Walked around the neighborhood and finished the podcast I started yesterday with Victoria Chang. I’m looking forward to reading her book Obit. As I listened to her and the host Rachel Zucker discuss their grief over the loss of their mothers, my mind started wandering and I started thinking about my current project. I decided to record my thoughts:

So I’m thinking as I was walking–I’m thinking about how I’d like this workbook to kind of be some of the exercises I’ve already done and practiced (or am practicing) but also the ideas that I’ve put in that I’d like to try. Just make a list of all of those things and not worry so much about whether or not it can be done but whether I’d like to try it. The other thing I was thinking about was with listening to Victoria Chang about Obit and grief and thinking about how my mom’s death has changed me and how this project really comes out of that. Or does it come out of that? Where does it come from? Does it have a clear origin? Wanting to discuss what it’s origins are.

Speaking of Obit, here’s one of Chang’s poems from it. The book is a series of obituaries for all the things that died after her mom died. Such a powerful idea!

OBIT [Memory]/ Victoria Chang

Memory—died August 3, 2015.  The
death was not sudden but slowly over a
decade.  I wonder if, when people die,
they  hear  a  bell.   Or  if  they  taste
something sweet, or if they feel a knife
cutting them in half, dragging through
the flesh like sheet cake.  The caretaker
who witnessed my mother’s death quit. 
She holds the memory and images and
now they are gone.  For the rest of her
life, the memories are hers.  She said
my mother couldn’t breathe, then took
her last breath 20 seconds later.  The
way I have imagined a kiss with many
men I have never kissed.  My memory
of  my  mother’s  death  can’t  be  a
memory but is an imagination, each
time the wind blows, leaves unfurl
a little differently.

I woke up this morning thinking of the line about the knife dragging through flesh like sheet cake. Intense.

feb 26/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.5 miles
treadmill, basement

Decided to bike and run in the basement today even though it wasn’t too cold (20 degrees) and the path was clear. Always trying to make sure I’m not running too much. Watched The Ring while I was biking. I think this movie, which is about 17 years old, holds up. Creepy. Extra creepy when you watch it on an iPad with headphones in a dark unfinished basement. Listened to my new (Sara 2020) playlist while I ran: Nur-d, Beck, Prince. Nice combination! At one point, felt like I was in a trance, my feet barely touching the moving floor.

Right now I’m reading Georgina Kleege’s Sight Unseen about macular degeneration and being blind and the over privileging of vision. She has 3 chapters on the phenomenology of blindness, which she describes as “attempts to capture in words the visual experience of someone with severely impaired sight.” So helpful! I don’t have the exact same thing that she does (and not as severe…yet), but it is very similar: damaged macula, loss of central vision, still intact peripheral vision. In the chapter, “the mind’s eye,” she writes about the blind spot her damaged macula creates in the center of her visual field. She describes how she can, with effort, see it when she stares at a blank wall.

I decided to try finding my blind spot. I stood about a foot away from a bare white door and stared into the center of it. After a few minutes, a darkish (dark gray?) circle–or was it an oval?–appeared in front of me. In its center was another circle which was white. This inner circle was a little less than a quarter the size of the darker circle. This darker circle is my blind spot; the much smaller inner circle is what is left of my combined (left and right eyes) central vision. Pretty wild.

Found this great PBS video with Kleege.

feb 21/BIKERUN

bike: 12 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 2.5 miles
treadmill, basement

I’m recording this while I’m on the treadmill at the end of my workout down in the basement. I biked for about 12 minutes and then I ran 2 1/2 miles. It was warmer outside today but I couldn’t run any earlier and by the time I could it was starting to get cold and windy and there were lots of puddles on the ground so I decided to stay inside and do the treadmill in the basement. While I was biking I listened to Here I Am by Air Supply which really made me think of my sister Marji. I imagined singing it with her, like when we were kids or when we got really drunk at a minor league baseball game in Des Moines when I was 20. And it made me think of my best friend from high school, Jenny, and how we memorized the lyrics to Air Supply on the bus on some band trip. Then I got on the treadmill and I started listening to a random playlist and Carolina on my mind by James Taylor came on and it reminded me of living in North Carolina. I’m not sure if this actually happened or not but I have this memory of driving from the UP to North Carolina and listening to this song. I’m sure that didn’t happen but I have a really strong connection with it as a memory. Not much else happened. It was kind of a boring/not creative run but it felt really good to get moving fast.

note: I felt a lot more comfortable–and had a lot less errors/extra words–in my dictation recording today. Was it because I was moving? Maybe I should try to always do these while walking? I’m thinking of switching to the voice memo app because I would like a recording of my voice too. It will be a little more tedious having to transcribe myself but it also might be a good way to spend more time with my words and thoughts.

I’m thinking about poetry exercises and the body. Found a pdf of CAConrad’s (Some)tic poetry exercises. I first heard about CAConrad on a podcast last year: Poetry Ritual

CAConrad’s (SOMA)TIC POETRY EXERCISES

5.) Go to a bookstore. Go to the History Section. Close your eyes and randomly choose a book. Turn to page 108. Read that page and pull one word you like from it. Go to the Romance Section, repeat process. Then go to these other 7 sections and repeat process: Gardening, Religion, Biography, Children’s, Cookbooks, Law, Horror. After you’ve collected these 9 words sit in the store, even if you must sit on the floor, then write a poem which includes these 9 words. This poem must be immediate, and it must be written in the store where the 9 words were found on page 108 of 9 different books. I hope you show me your poem one day. Thank you ahead of time.

feb 18/BIKE

bike: 35 minutes
bike stand, basement

Snowed 2 super slippery inches last night. That, combined with my slightly sore ankle, meant I needed to bike in the basement today. No sun. No gorge. No birds chirping, although I can hear them outside of my window. Also, no wind. No frozen fingers. No falling on slick ice. Finished the last 20 minutes of the final episode of Cheer. Time to find another show.

Notes on Un-Apology/ Erin Slaughter

once I owned a wooden door
& a field of ice & I was big-hearted, gentle, prefaced
my friends’ names with sweet & kissed them
on the cheeks. once a man called me brilliant & all I wanted
was to be his little wife. for him to trap me
in a wooden home, to zip me up pretty, kiss
me in the kitchen while mushrooms screamed & withered
on the stove. I am beginning to think of the color green
as a last chance that has already passed & I’m sorry
to be so full of raining. but if I could carve a notch
into the lampposts of this city for every person who said home
like it was a promise. we are fools & monsters, all of us, cobweb-headed
& waiting for rupture. once I met a man & his words
unearthed a softness that only comes from loam, from tilling
gently at a gravesite. sometimes we talk about weather
& sometimes we talk about feelings. sometimes
I worry I’m not looking for love, that I’m looking
for a religion to have sex with. in my mouth lives a bitterness
that could draw blood, & I’m sorry but two years I searched
for the river & when I finally found it, it was dead with its palms up.
I dipped my hands in its broken jaw & called it sister. I haven’t spoken
to my sister in two years, a nurse in Texas
with a daughter & a cruelty that jingles
like silver on a charm bracelet. I want to tell you starfish, I want
to tell you dark orchids climbing the windowpane.
the moon would drown trying to drink up
all the things I want. I’m sorry you never learned
the recipe to my mornings. I still think of you when the sky shudders
& floorboards hush themselves to listen.

Wow. I remember reading this poem a year ago and really liking the last line: “& floorboards hush themselves to listen.” Why didn’t I post it? Reading it again a year later, I love it even more. “sometimes we talk about weather & sometimes we talk about feelings.” I think I want to make that a title for a poem. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about inner and outer weather and the dis/connections between the weather I’m running in and my mood.

feb 2/BIKEDANCE

bike: 30 minutes
bike stand, basement
dance with daughter: an hour?
family wedding

Biked this morning while watching more Cheer. Fascinated by Coach Monica’s simultaneous declaration of her “old school conservative” values/beliefs and her passionate, unshakeable love and support for her gay cheerleaders. I would have enjoyed teaching episodes of this in one of my queer theory or feminist debates classes.

Later in the afternoon, went to a family wedding and convinced my teenage daughter to dance with me at the reception. Even though I am not the greatest dancer it was so much fun. My parents-in-law even joined us at one point. Amazing, especially since Scott’s mom was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer last year.

Because my grief was a tree/ Nicky Beer

It forgave the dog that pissed on it
It moderated quarrels between the stones
It had a few knots that looked like a weeping face
It had a few knots that looked like a laughing face
It never stopped grasping the earth
It was badly tuned by the wind
It grew inedible fruit
It grew fruit that fed the worms magnificently
It held a yellow newspaper on its head for seven months
It felt the rumba in a squirrel’s chest pressing against it
It wore a gash from when my friend was drunk and stupid
It looked up at the geese in their lofty arrows
It looked up at the geese in their trombone-heavy operettas
It stretched its arms wider every year
It waves its dozens of dark hats over the grass

jan 31/BIKERUN

bike: 30 minutes
run: 1.5 miles
basement

Stayed inside today. Not because it was too cold or too slippery but because I needed to do less running and because I wanted to watch more Cheer while I was working out. Sherbs dislocated her elbow in today’s episode. Ugh, this show. Very compelling. Also, watching it makes my knees and neck and all of my joints hurt. I guess I’m middle aged because all I can think about is how fucked up their bodies are probably going to be when they turn 40. I hope I’m wrong.

Enjoyed listening to “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Misery Business,” and “Can’t Touch This” while I ran. I’m glad to have the treadmill, but it really instrumentalizes the workout, reducing it to getting exercise and burning calories. I missed greeting the gorge and smelling the cold air and admiring the river today.

For the past month, I’ve been thinking about all I’ve learned through keeping this log and wondering how (or if) to put it into more direct conversation with my past academic work on being undisciplined, breaking bad habits, virtue ethics, troublemaking, and moral selfhood. I guess I’m afraid that if I try, I’ll get sucked back into talking/writing/acting like my former academic over-thinking self. I’m also afraid I will spend all of my time and energy trying to contextualize /justify/ theorize what I’m doing here and won’t have any time or space or energy left to continue actually doing the work I want to be doing.

I was thinking about this dilemma a lot before I went to the basement to work out. Did I think about it at all while I was down there? I can’t remember.

MAKING LISTS/Imtiaz Dharker

The best way to put
things in order is
to make a list.
The result of this
efficiency is that everything
is named, and given 
an allotted place.

But I find, when I begin,
there are too many things,
starting from black holes
all the way to safety pins.

And of course the whole
of history is still there.
Just the fact that it has 
already happened doesn’t mean
it has gone elsewhere.
It is sitting hunched
on people’s backs,
wedged in corners
and in cracks,
and has to be accounted for.
The future too.

But I must admit
the bigger issues interest
me less and less.

My list, as I move down in, 
becomes domestic,
a litany of laundry
and of groceries.
These are the things
that preoccupy me.

The woman’s blouse is torn.
It is held together
with a safety pin. 

Thrown away/ Imtiaz Dharker

They come back somethings, by mistake,
the lost, forgotten poems.
On the backs of estimates
for furniture, behind grocery bills,
black scribbles laid over fine print.
The ones on envelopes, of course,
keep turning up,
others fallen off the edge of maps.
Hardest to keep are the ones
written on paper napkins
with the name of the cafe
in one corner, bottom right,
the kind you could use so easily
to blow your nose,
and throw away.

Some go because they don’t
deserve to stay.

Is there a place where all
the lost words go?
Poems crumpled into balls and
tossed in wastepaper-bins,
poems left behind on trains,
poems flown into the wind,

a litter of kisses blown
on to your cheek,
that you have felt
and brushed away?

jan 26/BIKERUNBIKE

bike: 25 minutes
run: 2 miles
bike: 10 minutes
basement

It’s warm outside, hovering just below freezing, and the air feels great, but the path is an ice rink. Too icy to run outside today. Bummer. Started another episode of Cheer while biking in the basement. Wow, Monica the coach is hard core. She made one of the cheerleaders who had disobeyed her order to not cheer that weekend and then injured his back do practice anyway. It was hard to watch him grimacing and writhing and sobbing from pain. In an interview, Monica talked about how the kids need and want discipline and order in their lives, partly because they’ve never had it. I often think about this balance between the need for discipline, in the form of order and rules, and the negative effects of that disciplining–unquestioned obedience to those rule even when they might lead to permanent damage–like a seriously fucked up back and life long, agonizing pain. How do we navigate that? Can we have discipline without being disciplined? So much to say about what’s happening in this episode with discipline and civilized behavior and manners and looking respectable in the community and unquestionably following the rules of a coach! Maybe someday.

While I ran, I listened to a great audio book, The Changeling. Pretty intense. I am at the part of the novel where the protagonist, Apollo, is on an island of green-robed woman who are trying to kill him. Felt like I was in a trance, running at a steady, easy pace, staring blankly at the reflection of a light bulb in the window, listening to the author, Victor LaValle. Not as invigorating as being outside by the gorge, but still good to be moving.

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.

dec 28/BIKERUNBIKE

bike: 37 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.3 miles
treadmill, basement
outside: sleet, ice, weather advisory

So glad to have a bike stand for my bike and a treadmill in the basement. The sidewalks, roads, paths are pure ice. Saw a video on twitter of a kid skating on the sidewalk with ice skates. What? Re-watched the Track and Field World Championships while I biked and managed to forget about all of the ideas about writing/creative projects I had swimming around in my head. Too many ideas! Listened to an old playlist while I ran. What a dreary, trapped-in-the-house-kinda-day. Gray, dark, wet. Now it’s raining. At the end of December. Strange.

This morning I watched the wonderful America Ferrera read Denise Levertov’s Sojourns in the Parallel World on Brain Pickings.

SOJOURNS IN THE PARALLEL WORLD
by Denise Levertov

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension—though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it “Nature”; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be “Nature” too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal—then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
—but we have changed, a little.

I love the idea of nature not caring about our preoccupations and of living in and beside it and of a moment or an hour in which we can drift and lose track of ourselves as we respond to nature–which is, by the way, what running enables me to do by the gorge for at least a few seconds every time I run. I also love how she describes nature in such simple forms: cloud, bird, fox. With my vision and how it makes objects fuzzy, sometimes all I can recognize is the basic form: person, tree, boulder, river, bird

This valuing of losing track of ourselves is central to my own goals and has me thinking that it is just as or more important than the constant refrain to find ourselves.

What would it look like to center/prioritize losing instead of finding ourselves?

dec 19/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
basement, bike stand
run: 1.2 miles
basement, treadmill

Mostly biked today. Giving my legs a rest from running hard last night on the us bank stadium concrete. Watched a Superleague Triathlon race on the bike, listened to a playlist on the treadmill. Wore a pair of ridiculously patterned leggings that I bought for my daughter a few years ago that she has never worn. Wow–blue and white tie-dyed with bright blue patches on the back of the knees.

We Are Monica (Acrostic)/ Victoria Chang

What if it were true? That in the
End, no matter what dress we look for,
All we have in our closets are blue ones?
Remember the surface area of the body?
Each one inch square can be bruised blue.
Maybe we know how to betray cloth, its
Old downy fibers are really our skin,
Nightmare after nightmare, it grows back,
It desires to be touched, and nerved, and
Caught. Maybe it is meant to be put on
And taken off, then put on and taken off.

*

What happened to the blue girl who
Entered into the meadow, the one we
Accused, then asked how it felt,
Rubbing our ears against her mouth for
Everything she would give, for what didn’t
Matter—did his hand touch you there
Or there, did he control or tendril?
Nothing, she was to us, but how
I would still look if she rose one night,
Covet the night, listen for their lies,
And take joy in hearing her cries.

*

Who are we to say who belongs on
Earth? We hate the cold mornings
And the warm mornings. What we
Require we never get. We have the hots for
Everything. We aspire to be aspirers.
Maybe we were meant to fancy everything,
Or at least think each vowel in a word
Needs to exist. How many ways can we
Inch forward? We can walk towards, even
Crawl towards with no legs. But even then, we
Are still dependent on dirt and its filth.

*

Why did we spend our lives looking
Everywhere for what we have now, if
All we want is travel? The red leaves,
Regioning off our yards, not the responsible
Envelopes that stay on the trees, but
Maple leaves, the ones that giddily
Opt to follow rain, those opportunists,
Never accepting stasis. Maybe we all
Itch for twice, life. Watch a new
Checker who opens a line at a store,
And how fast we leave each other to get there.

*

We are done for then, or are we just
Erratic, like a tack, constantly moved
Around from paper to paper. A tack never
Reflects, a tack doesn’t die for truth,
Expressing crisis at every new job.
Maybe we are all like tacks, one side sharp,
One side dark. And maybe we are all
Narrow, only truly visible in the night,
In the line of a troubled light.
Could our fingerprints exist because
We know we can’t be trusted?

*

What if, in the end, the want for
Everything, a drink of water, a mother,
A new face, is not a waste, or even
Rare, but what keeps us alive?
East me then, I say to the wind, song me,
Move me where you will, to edge, to roots.
O compass in my mouth, take me to
Noon, the summer, and send the warmth
Into my veins. I will follow it, let it
Carry me through the squares in the screen,
And let me not get stuck.

*

When we are done looking for the
Ex-wife, the ex-lover, the ex-girlfriend,
And finished looking through telescopes, we
Remember how we used to look into
Each round hole for something larger,
Meant to test our vision, not turn it
Onto our hearts and mine its every
Nook, see the heart’s shape as love,
Its arteries as desire. Call me half-hearted,
Cull me from the cold, turn me back to
August, those nights I studied the celestial.

*

Why is writing about her odd?
Evening comes constantly and poets
Ask too much of the moon, too much of
Reeds that always seem to sway.
Everything I know is in a house,
Measured by hands of men that nailed
Over the reeds and tried to roof me from
Night and its eye. This is what
I know but will never understand, this
Capsule, body, this thing that loves others
And lies to us, that doesn’t last.

I love acrostic poems with (not so) hidden messages. I’d like to spend some more time with this poem to read it closely.

oct 24/BIKE

30 minutes
bike stand, basement

I have a little bit of stiffness and pain in my right knee so I’m taking a few days off from running. So difficult! It’s beautiful outside, just past peak leaf peepin’ and I’d love to be out by the gorge but my knee doesn’t want to. Biked in the basement instead which was fine but not nearly as fun or inspirational.

Prayer to be Still and Know
Nickole Brown

Lord, let my ears go secret agent, each
a microphone so hot it picks up things
silent, reverbing even the hum of stone
close to its eager, silver grill. Let my ears forget
years trained to human chatter
wired into every room, even those empty
except of me, each broadcast and jingle
tricking me into being less
lonely than I am. Let my ears forget
the clack and rumble, our tambourining and fireworking
distractions, our roar of applause. Let my hands quit
their clapping and rest in a new kind of prayer, one
that doesn’t ask but listens, palms up in my lap.
Like an owl, let me triangulate icy shuffling under snow as
vole, let me not just name the name
when I spot a soundtrack of birdsong
but understand the notes through each syrinx
as a singular missive—begging, flirting, fussing, each
companion call and alarm as sharp with desire and fear
as my own. Prick my ears, Lord. Make them hungry
satellites, have your way with their tiny bones,
teach the drum within that dark to drum
again. Because within the hammering of woodpecker
is a long tongue unwinding like a tape measure from inside
his pileated head, darting dinner from the pine’s soft bark.
And somewhere I know is a spider who births
a filament of silk and flies it to the next branch; somewhere,
a fiddlehead unstrings its violin into the miracle of
fern. And somewhere, a mink not made into a coat
cracks open a mussel’s shell, and with her mouth full
of that gray meat, yawns. Those are your sounds, are they not?
Do not deny it, Lord, do not deny
me. I do not know those songs. Nor do I know the hush
a dandelion’s face makes when it closes, surrenders, then goes
to seed. No, I only know the sound my own breath makes
as I wish and blow that perfect globe away;
I only know the small, satisfactory
popping of roots when I call it weed and yank it
from the yard. There is a language of all
you’ve created. Hear me, please. I just want to be
still enough to hear. Right here, Lord:
I want to be.

I want to spend some more time with this beautiful poem!

sept 28/BIKE

bike: 20 miles
sam morgan regional trail, st. paul

Wanted to finally take a day off from running…with a 20 mile bike ride. We biked over the ford bridge, along the Mississippi, stopping at the lookout over the confluence (where the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers meet). Kept going past Hidden Falls towards downtown St. Paul. Biked under the High Bridge and ended up unexpectedly at a taproom right along the river. Stopped for a beer. So cool! Felt like I was on vacation. Biked through Crosby Farms and Hidden Falls on the way back. Such a great trail.

august 17/RUNBIKE

run: 2.6 miles
lake harriet

Ran around Lake Harriet with Scott while our son was having his first behind-the-wheel driver’s ed lesson. Crowded. Lots of dogs and walkers and runners and cracks in the paved path.

bike: 14 miles
hidden falls/crosby farm/river road

Biked to Hidden Falls in St. Paul. So cool! Walked by the river first. Watched a kayak leisurely paddling until a motorboat roared by. Saw the dogs at the dog park across the river. Got bit by at least 4 mosquitos. Finally found the trail to the falls. A beautiful, small waterfall, lined with rocks. We timed it right so we were alone. Reminded me of Emerald Pools in Zion–one of my favorite places. Walked up the stone steps–definitely a WPA project. Thought about my grandfather who lived in West St. Paul and worked for the WPA. Did he help stack these stones? 110 steps up–Scott counted. I wonder if any of the men making these steps thought about how long they would still be here and who might be walking over them in the future?

august 14/BIKERUN

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

A great ride early in the morning before it was too crowded. Thing I remember most: not once but twice some dumb squirrel darted out right in front of my bike, forcing me to use my brakes. I hate squirrels.

run: 2.7 miles
two trails

Such a beautiful morning! Not too hot or windy or humid. Decided to do a quick run even though I’d already biked to the lake and walked around it. Up above, encountered at least one roller skier, some bikers, a dog and their human, a few other runners. Down below, an unleashed dog running ahead of its owners, a few solitary walkers. Watched the river out of the corner of my eye. Avoided muddy, mucky leaves. Ran cautiously under the leaning, yarn-bombed tree trunk.

swim: 1 mile
cedar lake

Finally decided to try out open swim at Cedar Lake. I’ve never been because it’s a lot farther from my house. Really wonderful. Not too many people there, which was great. Smaller loops–not sure, but I think a loop was 400-500 yards? (instead of 1200 at Lake Nokomis). I liked mixing it up with smaller loops. Easier to not get off track even when you couldn’t see, which I couldn’t on the way back because of the sun. Why are so many of the beaches east/west, with one way always being in the sun? No big, crazy beach filled with too many people. Found out after I finished swimming that the rest of lake nokomis open swims will be at cedar. It’s very sad to be done for the season at nokomis without being able to say goodbye to the lake but I’m glad I can still swim–if I can make it over to Cedar. It’s about a 16-18 mile bike ride round trip. Breathed every five strokes. Felt strong and fast and free.

Lake Water
By David Ferry July 16, 2007/ The New Yorker


It is a summer afternoon in October.
I am sitting on a wooden bench, looking out
At the lake through a tall screen of evergreens,
Or rather, looking out across the plane of the lake,
Seeing the light shaking upon the water
As if it were a shimmering of heat.
Yesterday, when I sat here, it was the same,
The same displaced out-of-season effect.
Seen twice it seemed a truth was being told.
Some of the trees I can see across the lake
Have begun to change, but it is as if the air
Had entirely given itself over to summer,
With the intention of denying its own proper nature.
There is a breeze perfectly steady and persistent
Blowing in toward shore from the other side
Or from the world beyond the other side.
The mild sound of the little tapping waves
The breeze has caused—there’s something infantile
About it, a baby at the breast. The light
Is moving and not moving upon the water.
The breeze picks up slightly but still steadily,
The increase in the breeze becomes the mild
Dominant event, compelling with sweet oblivious
Authority alterations in light and shadow,
Alterations in the light of the sun on the water,
Which becomes at once denser and more quietly
Excited, like a concentration of emotions
That had been dispersed and scattered and now were not.
Then there’s the mitigation of the shadow of a cloud,
Phrases and even sentences are written,
But because of the breeze, and the turning of the year,
And the sense that this lake water, as it is being
Experienced on a particular day, comes from
Some source somewhere, beneath, within, itself,
Or from somewhere else, nearby, a spring, a brook,
Its pure origination somewhere else,
It is like an idea for a poem not yet written
And maybe never to be completed, because
The surface of the page is like lake water,
That takes back what is written on its surface,
And all my language about the lake and its
Emotions or its sweet obliviousness,
Or even its being like an origination,
Is all erased with the changing of the breeze
Or because of the heedless passing of a cloud. When, moments after she died, I looked into
Her face, it was as untelling as something natural,
A lake, say, the surface of it unreadable,
Its sources of meaning unrndable anymore.
Her mouth was open as if she had something to say;
But maybe my saying so is a figure of speech.

I’d like to read this poem several more times. Wow, that ending!

august 12/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

Biking to the river, it was strange to see smoke coming out of the sewers; they’re testing for leaks. Not too crowded on the bike path. Just past 44th street, I encountered a bike surrey, about to cause a traffic jam in the double bridge. Later on the way home, I think I passed 5 or 6 surreys. So many today!

swim: 1.3 miles
lake nokomis

Swam 8 little loops off the big beach. Wonderful! The lake was nearly empty, only a swimming class in the shallow area. A few paddle boarders out in the middle. Overcast, looking like rain any second. Not too windy or warm. Nice. Swam for 40 minutes. Smooth, strong, steady. Realized that the swimming breathing stroke poems I’m working on aren’t quite right. The rhythm is not 5/6/3/5 like I’ve been doing but 5/6/3, 5/6/3. Maybe I’ll work on some 5/6/3 or 5/6/3/5/6/3 verses today. After I stopped swimming, standing in the sand in the swimming area near the shore, it started drizzling. I almost went back out to swim some more, but I was too tired. …After the 6th loop, I stopped briefly and noticed the silence. So calm and peaceful! I love this lake.

august 9/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

I never plan it, but according to my workout app, I’ve been averaging 12.7 mph for almost every bike ride I’ve done to the lake for the past month. 12.7 mph is not fast but it’s fast enough for me. And it never feels slow. No run-ins with jerks biking too fast or taking over the whole path or yelling at me. Can’t remember why now, but some cars or bikers did prompt me to shake my head disapprovingly. The dreaded middle-aged mom’s head shake!

swim: .7 miles
lake nokomis

Swam little loops off the big beach today–4, or was it 5? I can’t remember. All I know is that I swam for about 25 minutes. The water was great. Smooth. Not too cold. A couple bright yellow paddle boats hovered just off the swimming area–actually, they weren’t that close but with my depth perception they looked like they were right on top of the white buoys. The water looked yellowish brownish green. There was another swimmer swimming loops. Spent a lot of my sighting time making sure I didn’t run into him. Breathed every five for most of it, occasionally 3/6/3/6 or 5/6/5/6. Felt so powerful and fast slicing through the water and easily rounding the buoys. What a wonderful feeling! Almost convinced myself that it was too much of a hassle to swim today. So glad I didn’t.

every five
Catch pull push release
five times then a breath

three/six/three/six
powerful
strong shoulders and straight strokes
jubilant
generous lungs stay filled

five/six/five/six
swimming little loops
well–not little loops but
loops that are smaller
than loops across the lake

“welcome!” says water
“join us!” cry out the fish
“hello!” calls the bird
perched on the white buoy

Boy Crazy/Carmen Giméndez Smith

The echoes of sirens and cicadas,
and the drunk boys who howl
into the trees at 2 a.m. infect
my window while I sleep,
and I’m pulled into a girl I once was,
calling for love into a sky transected
by power lines until sunset when the town
tightened into itself. I prayed for a boy’s
wolf life, the dream of skulking along
streets with hunger and immunity.
I wanted to cup the moon’s curve
in my hand like it belonged to me,
that was how young I was.

Love the unexpected meaning of the title here and so many of the phrases–infect my window/pulled into a girl I once was/when the town tightened into itself/a boy’s wolf life/skulking/hunger and immunity.


august 1/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

2.2 miles
two trails
69 degrees
dew point: 62

It’s hot again. Ran the two trails. Listened to an audio book (Agatha Christie’s Murder at the Vicarage) on the upper trail. Nothing on the lower–excerpt for an older woman’s radio (the same woman I passed last week). Instead of taking the steps up at 38th, I kept running on the dirt trail to the savana. Sometimes this trail is muddy, today it was not. I think I quickly glanced at the river only once or twice. Mostly, I don’t remember what I saw or heard. No interesting smells or sounds.

Let us for a moment call this pain by other words/Dominik Parisien

Ask, How many roses does the hammer weigh

when it bears down on your skull?

Does the sword seem toothed like a toddler’s smile

or sharp as your first ice skates?

On a scale of anglerfish to northern lights

how bright are the flashes in your head?

When I touch this, here, which constellations

light the sky behind your eyes?

Would you say that pulsing is the flicker of a satellite

or the stubborn heartbeat of a newborn chick?

Ask, Can we for a moment make of beauty

the measure of our pain? and I will answer.

This poem is so great. Immediately reminds me of Eula Biss’s The Pain Scale essay. I don’t think I have a favorite line, they’re all beautiful. Maybe, “which constellations light the sky behind your eyes?”

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

Great weather for a bike ride. Especially fun after the swim, on the way home, when it was almost twilight. The final stretch up the river road is always tricky at this time–so crowded. Bikers/runners/walkers spreading out over the path, disregarding the lines or the rules of which path to stay on. It makes it so much more dangerous for me. I’m fine biking in my lane, following the lines, but I can’t always see darting people or judge the amount of space I need to get around someone. Very frustrating.

swim: 1.5 miles
lake nokomis

Did a little loop before open swim started, then 2 big loops. Might have been able to do more, but my brain got tired of not being able to see much. Still, a great swim. The water felt nice–not too warm or cold–and the waves weren’t bad. For the first time, I ran into someone. Not hard, just a tap on their leg before I veered off. The buoys were too far off the main beach but in a straight line. Easy to follow. The sun was blinding heading back from the little beach. I wonder, does it get better or worse the longer you stay in the water? I can’t remember because I usually stop swimming by 6:30. Next time, I should stay until 7:30. Heard some clangs underwater, roaring planes in the sky. Several sailboats. Breathed every five strokes for the first loop. Second loop: every five to the little beach, every 6 to the right on the way back to the main beach. After I finished, met Scott at Sandcastle for a beer and watched a sailboat, with a brightly colored sail, slowly drift closer to us. What a great night! What a great lake!

july 31/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

A wonderful morning for a bike ride! No altercations with assholes! Noticed, as I biked over a bridge, how much the creek was rushing. Sometime soon, I’d like to bike along the creek to Lake Harriet.

swim: 1 mile
lake nokomis

Swam a mile this morning off the big beach. It was windier than I expected. And chillier. Just 70 degrees. I had goose bumps as I entered the water. Swam 6 little loops/38 minutes. Swimming into the wind and the waves, I breathed every 6 on my right side. Swimming away from it, every 5. The water was yellowish, greenish, brownish and opaque. Couldn’t see anything below me, no streaks or flashes or shafts of light. Had no problem seeing the vertical white buoys–well, I couldn’t see them through my central vision until I spotted them with my peripheral vision. I think I saw one kayak out there. No other swimmers. Just me. Very relaxing and mechanical, steady. 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left. Metronomic. Maybe a little less than a quarter note = 60? Not sure. I like turning into a machine, gliding through the water. About 30 minutes in, I felt like I could swim for a few more hours. I liked how the wind rocked me.

Last year, I discovered Roger Deakin’s fabulous book, Waterlog. I finally bought it this summer, using a birthday gift card. Here’s a passage I’d like to think/write about:

…swimming is a rite of passage, a crossing of boundaries: the line of the shore, the bank of the river, the edge of the pool, the surface itself. When you enter the water, something like metamorphosis happens. Leaving behind the land, you go through the looking glass surface and enter a new world, in which survival, not ambition or desire, is the dominant aim. …You are in nature, part and parcel of it, in a far more complete and intense way than on dry land, and your sense of the present is overwhelming.

I like the idea of the water world being a reverse, almost an upending. I’ve played around with that in some poems already. I’d like to push it some more. I’m particularly interested in the lack of gravity and weightlessness. Deakin’s also writes:

In water, all possibilities seemed infinitely extended. Free of the tyranny of gravity and the weight of atmosphere…

july 30/RUNBIKESWIMBIKE

run: 3 miles
trestle turn around
59! degrees

Ran much earlier this morning–at 6:45. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to be out so early. I love summer mornings. I’d like to try and get up early more often in August. Ran without headphones. Made sure I noticed the river, slivers of sparkle in the sun. Difficult to see through all of the trees. Running past the Welcoming Oaks noticed a new stump, almost level with the ground. Oh no! Which one of my friends has been chopped down? I fear it might be my favorite: the tree that leans, arching its back, almost as if to say, “Heyyyyyyy” or “Watch out!” I hope not. I’ll have to go back and take a closer look. A motorcycle rumbled by, blasting the news on their radio. Saw other runners, walkers, roller skiers, bikers and 3 in-sync rollerbladers. Noticed in the tunnel of trees that, in addition to the clearing I’ve been writing about, there’s another one, created by the stone wall that Delia the dog likes to jump up on. Could really smell the sewer this morning, especially above the rowing club. Yuck! Heard some birds. Whooshing cars. Ran the 3 miles straight without stopping, even though my left leg felt tight. Wish it wasn’t so difficult.

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

Mostly, biking isn’t too bad, except for when someone is going really slow and I need to pass them. It’s so hard to pass with my vision. I can’t trust that I’m actually seeing if a bike is coming. Today I didn’t see the bike coming, tried to pass, and almost got in the way of another biker. He was so mean about it, his yell still echoing in my head. At first, I was devastated, feeling so bad about my vision and my mistake. But then I remembered how many bikers I had encountered who did the same thing I did and I didn’t scream at them. My conclusion: this guy was a big asshole.

swim: 1.2 miles
lake nokomis

Made it to the lake early and did three little loops. They were late setting up the buoys so it was a wetsuit rebellion. People just started swimming, not waiting for the lifeguards to announce the start. I joined them and did only one loop. So many swimmers! So many swimmers unable to swim straight, almost routing me! But who cares? The water was wonderful. Warmish and calm. Clear. Smooth. I felt strong and powerful and relaxed. Did a lot of breathing every 5 and sometimes 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 6 breathe right 1 2 3 4 5 breathe left 1 2 3 4 5 breathe right. There is something special about swimming loops outside at a lake. One of my top 5 all-time favorite things to do.

MORNING SWIM
(from Where I Live – New & Selected Poems 1990-2010, W.W. Norton, 2010)

Into my empty head there come
a cotton beach, a dock wherefrom

I set out, oily and nude
through mist, in chilly solitude.

There was no line, no roof or floor
to tell the water from the air.

Night fog thick as terry cloth
closed me in its fuzzy growth.

I hung my bathrobe on two pegs.
I took the lake between my legs.

Invaded and invader, I
went overhand on that flat sky.

Fish twitched beneath me, quick and tame.
In their green zone they sang my name

and in the rhythm of the swim
I hummed a two-four- time slow hymn.

I hummed “Abide With Me.” The beat
rose in the fine thrash of my feet,

rose in the bubbles I put out
slantwise, trailing through my mouth.

My bones drank water; water fell
through all my doors. I was the well

that fed the lake that met my sea
in which I sang “Abide With Me.”

Love the line in this poem about there being no line or roof or floor to tell the water from the air. And the fish! I almost forgot about the tiny little minnows I saw at the big beach. Swimming in the shallow water. Pretty cool.

july 28/BIKERUN

bike: 5.7 miles
to lake nokomis/1/2 way back

Biked to the lake for open swim. As I arrived, it thundered and I heard the lifeguard call out, “Open Swim is delayed for 30 minutes.” Bummer. Then, after waiting for a few minutes, the sky unzipped and it began to pour. Waited under the overhang of the building with Scott until it stopped. Thundered again. 30 more minute wait. So we left. Double bummer. At least I got to see a rafter of wild turkeys in a field across from Locks and Dam #1 as I biked to the lake. Pretty cool!

run: 2.4 miles
river road path, north/south
75 degrees
humidity: 87%
dew point: 70

I am currently on day 62 of filling all three rings on my apple watch. Decided to run so I could keep up the streak. So hot and humid! For the first time this year, I saw haze hovering around the tunnel of trees. It was raining as I ran. Not too hard and offering no relief. Encountered some idiot teenagers playing catch on the running path under the bridge. Two of them almost threw a ball over my head as I ran by them. I gave them one of my vigorous disapproving head shakes which my daughter says are very effective in shaming. Why did she say that? Have I given her one before?

What Lights Up…?
BY KEKI DARUWALLA
excerpt

what lights up
the lightbulb filaments
of your recall Old Man
this streak of fire
through the thin wire
of memory and mind
what line
from which poet?

I love this opening stanza! Definitely one to memorize.

july 25/BIKESWIMBIKE

bike: 8.5 miles
lake nokomis

So windy! Gusts up to 23 mph. Biking the last stretch around the lake to the big beach, I could feel the wind wanting to blow me off my bike.

swim: .7 miles
lake nokomis

Got to the lake early. The plan was to swim small loops until open swim started then do one big loop, but it was so windy and choppy–even white caps!–that it was difficult. Going one direction, I was swimming straight into the waves. Tough. Almost stopped after one loop, but decided to keep going and did a few more. Watched the lifeguards trying to set up the orange buoys on the choppy, wavy, windy water. It was taking so long that I didn’t have time to stay. As I biked up the hill, 15 minutes later, I could still hear them trying to line up the buoys. Oh well, I still swam some. It would have been fun to swim in the choppy water. I like swimming in choppy water. A fun challenge. Plus, it’s a cool experience to be gently (or vigorously) rocked. Last fall I wrote a lot of lines about waves. Here’s a few that I especially liked and that I’m hoping to put into a poem:

In the summer I swim across the lake.
When the wind is just right it makes the water into a cradle.

And when the wind is wrong
the waves become a washing machine.

I swim through a spin cycle
and reach the far shore scrubbed clean.