may 24/RUN

2 miles
1.75 loop + extra
63 degrees
humidity: 94%, dew point: 62

Established another loop for my summer loop project: 1.75 loop/ start at 36th, north on Edmund, then north on the river road at 33rd, loop around 32nd, south on edmund, then south on river road at 36th, loop around 38th, north on edmund, end at 36th. Sounds more complicated than it is. If they weren’t doing some big sewer project near the tunnel of trees which has shut down the river road for a small stretch, this loop would be north on edmund, south on the river road. Found out this morning that this project is expected to last until the fall. Bummer.

Everything was thick and green. Heavy, but also calm and slow. Wore a tank top today which helped with the heat. Heard lots of birds–some robins I think. (Later, walking with Delia the dog, I heard 2 black capped chickadees doing a call and response–except for it was more a response and call. I heard the response first. I’d like to imagine what they might be saying to each other in their reversed conversation. Anything else? No view of the river, no roller skiers, no Daily Walker. No running path, no spazzy squirrels, no woodpecker. No sun, no bugs, no shadows. Only green–green sky, green view, green air.

Thinking some more about “What Would Root” and what is and isn’t mentioned in the poem: it’s May, there’s some sun, but no wind or humidity or weather at all. No shadows. There are scolding squirrels, birds, and lizards, but no bugs–mosquitoes or gnats or moths or butterflies. No evidence of other humans. No road or path or dirt trail. There is a smell–“the air was sweet with pine and Island Mountain lilac,” taste–“I could taste the granite in the spring,” sight–“the land spread itself greenly for me,” and touch–“the rock was very hard,” but no hearing–no wind rustling through the trees, no noises from the scolding squirrels, or slurps from the red hummingbirds dipping their beaks into the little red hoods of penstemon.

Here’s another poem I found on twitter the other day involving vision. Will I have to memorize a series of poems about vision sometime this summer?

Eyesight/ A.R. Ammons

It was May before my
attention came
to spring and

my word I said
to the southern slopes
I’ve

missed it, it
came and went before
I got right to see:

don’t worry, said the mountain,
try the later northern slopes
or if

you can climb, climb
into spring: but
said the mountain
it’s not that way
with all things, some
that go are gone

may 23/RUN

2.4 miles
1.5 mile loop + .75 loop + extra
62 degrees
94% humidity/ dew point: 61

Humid and thick and sticky. Hard to breathe. Yuck! I already miss the fresher, cooler air. Oh well. Decided to run a few miles this morning before the rain arrives. It’s supposed to rain here all weekend. Lots of other people–runners and walkers–had the same idea. I should start getting up much earlier, when it’s cooler and less crowded. Heard some woodpeckers and a bunch of other birds that I couldn’t readily recognize. Don’t remember much else from my run except that there were lots of puddles on the sidewalk, lots of dripping trees. At some point during the run, I got a nice little shower when the wind nudged some wet leaves and they misted me. Recited “What Would Root” a few times. When I finished my run I recited it into my phone.

What Would Root, may 23

Listening back to the recording, I’m pleased with how I remembered almost all of it and struck by how many birds I can hear in the background. As I listened to the line, “that they were a part of my body, I could not doubt; they were living and enervated and jutting out”, I thought about how I am not entirely sure what “enervated” means. Looked it up and was surprised: exhausted, fatigued, weary. I was thinking it would mean the opposite of that but as I think about the rest of the poem it makes sense. The next line is, “I sat down” and a few lines later the narrator says, “I lay down beneath my own branches.” So, does that mean rooting is akin too resting here? Stepping away from the world, “to nuzzle into the earth”? Or maybe it means being restored, revitalized–for me, that fits better with the color green. I love the world Farris creates here and I want to lay beneath my own branches and nuzzle into the earth–at least for a while, until this terrible pandemic is over and the assholes who are making it much worse are gone.

Speaking of the pandemic, we are entering a new phase. Things are opening back up and it seems like some people think this means things are getting better. Who thinks this and why? I can’t decide how much of this attitude is coming from “actual” people, and how much of it is propaganda designed to get us to risk our lives for the sake of spending money. I do not like this phase; I like it less than the last phase.

Found this poem after using the search word “green.” I want to think about it some more as it relates to my vision and how I see color and forms.

I Look Up from My Book and Out at the World through Reading Glasses/ Diane Seuss

The world, italicized.

Douglas fir blurs into archetype,
a black vertical with smeared green arms.
The load of pinecones at the top,
a brown smudge which could be anything: a wreath
of moths, a rabbit strung up
like a flag.

All trees are trees.
Death to modifiers.

A smear of blue, a smear of gold that could be a haystack,
a Cadillac, or a Medal of Honor without a neck to hang upon.

I know the dog killed something today, but it’s lost in fog.
A small red splotch in a band of monochromatic green.
And now, the mountain of bones is only a mountain capped in snow.
 
It’s a paradise of vagaries.
No heartache.
Just and eraser smudge,
smoke-gray.

All forms, the man wrote, tend toward blur.

may 22/RUN

3 miles
2.5 mile loop + extra
61 degrees

Green gloom with white sky today. Please come back Sun. I like that it’s warmer outside, but I wish it wasn’t so cloudy. I want to see my shadow and the light green glow by the gorge. Decided, for the first time in a long time–a month, at least?–I ran with headphones. It helped a little to listen to AC/DC, Lizzo, Beck, Prince. For a few minutes, I felt like I was flying. Didn’t think about the poem I’m reciting this week. Did I think about anything–other than, how fast am I running, or why does this seem so hard, or I am a badass running up this hill?

Yesterday afternoon I decided to test how well I could still recite all the poems I’ve memorized. Not too bad. The hardest one was the last few lines of Lovesong for the Square Root of Negative One by Richard Siken. Maybe when I’m running loops this summer I could recite different poems on different loops? A fun challenge, maybe?

Wow, this poem! I want to spend more time with it, learning all the lines about listening. So good.

Push the button, hear the sound/ HELEN MORT

Listen to the lorikeet’s whistling song.
Can you hear the call of the mynah bird?
Can you hear the flamingos in the water?
Can you hear your small heart next to mine
and the house breathing as it holds us?
Can you hear the chainsaw start, the bones
of our neighbor’s eucalyptus breaking?
It’s summer, high, emptied. Listen to the ground,
giddy with thirst. Listen to the dog shit
on the lawns, the murderous water boatmen
skimming the green pond. Can you hear
the roses rioting on the trellis? Can you
make a noise like a cheeky monkey? There are
sounds your book lacks names for. Can you
hear the sleepless girls in Attercliffe?
Can you hear the aspirin of the sun dissolving?
Listen to the casual racists in the family pub.
Listen to the house Shiraz I drink as if
it’s something’s blood. Listen to my fear,
blooming in the vase of my chest,
and listen to how I water it. Can you hear
your grandfather’s lost childhood? Can you hear
the suburban library shutting? The door closing?
The books still breathing? O can you hear
the budget tightening? It’s almost dark.
Listen to the noisy penguins on the ice.
Listen to my late-night online purchases.
Orange lipstick. High-waisted bikini briefs.
Types of plant that will never die. Listen
to your half-sister hissing to her friends at 2 a.m.
You hang up. No, you hang up. Listen
to the panic in their emojis. Can you hear
your father lighting his first cigarette?
Can you hear the foxes mating all the way
to oblivion? Their sounds are inhuman,
too human, scaling the high fences,
pressing our windowpanes. Listen
to the utter indifference of the stars.
The night is full of holes and we
grate our bodies against them.
Can you hear that, Alfie? Can you hear me
holding you, closer than my life?
Listen to “The Trout” by Schubert.
Listen to the blackbird’s chirpy song.
Listen to this waltz by Paganini.
Listen to the stage as we walk clean
off the front of it, into the audience,
the pit, the silent orchestra.

I love how she trades off between lines with the question, Can you hear, and the command, Listen. I love the line, “there are sounds your book lacks names for” and roses rioting and indifferent stars, the thirsty ground, the panic in their emojis.

may 21/RUN

3.25 miles
1.5 mile loop*
61 degrees

This summer, I’m planning to do more loops. Today I decided to do an easy run: 2 loops, starting at 36th, heading south on the river road, turning right on 42nd, then heading back north on edmund. One loop = 1.5 miles + .25 mile run to the river.

green as mood, feeling

Overcast this morning and warm. Everything was green. Thought about the idea of green as something you feel instead of see. What does it mean to feel green? Today’s green, in the absence of bright sun, felt calm and floating. Not solid or sharp or singular but part of everything else–pavement, grass, dirt, trees, sky, birds, the little kid speeding away from his dad on his bike.

I quickly googled green mood and found an article about it: What Does Green Make You Feel. Popular answers: calm, excited, stimulated, compassionate, optimistic, natural, fertile. Some that weren’t mentioned, but that I think about: energized/over-stimulated, mystery, envy, greed, naiveté, queasiness, growth/abundance/excess.

reciting while running: What Would Root

Recited What Would Root again as I ran. The entire poem took about a mile to speak in my head–with a few stops and starts with the words. I thought a little bit about the refrain “I could see everything; it was all green.” Then I thought about how I, with my damaged cones, sees green. Am I actually seeing green–and, how much? Is some of this seeing the memory of green or the logic of green—my brain knows that in spring and summer, trees are green, so it “tells” my eyes to see green? I don’t know. I feel like I’m actually seeing green but how many functional cones do I have left? Could I be seeing green through my peripheral? Lots of questions.

When I finished my run, I recited the poem into my phone as I walked home. I got it almost totally right–I forgot the line, “I sat down, feeling the hairs on the back of my neck, understanding for the first time that they were not hairs, but roots.” It is fascinating to have the poem in front of me and then listen to my recitation, seeing what I get right, what I don’t, which articles/words I add or omit.

what would root, may 21

may 20/RUN

4 miles
last chance before franklin loop*
61 degrees

*edmund, north/river road, north/seabury, south/river road, south/edmund, south. This loop is called the last change before Franklin because its most northern point where I turn around is the last chance to turn onto Seabury before the the river road slopes down.

Spring! Warmer weather! No layers today, just shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. Windy, overcast, and green. Was able to run right above the river for a few stretches. Streaks of blue breaking through the persistent green. Classic color combination–sky blue + straight up green (not fern or asparagus or pine). Don’t remember seeing–or hearing–any roller skiers. Encountered some annoying road-hogging walkers but was able to cross the road to avoid them.

Recited this week’s poem, What Would Root. I have the entire thing, all 402 words of it, memorized! Running back on Seabury, heading south, I was able to think about the story and meanings in the poem. One thing that’s great, at least for me, about memorizing a poem is that the longer I spend with the poem, the better I can understand it–not completely understand it on every level, but understand it on a basic level. Perhaps everyone else gets these things right away, but it has taken me dozens of readings to get that the line

                 My right eye would not close to this
view; why would it; but when I reached up to touch it, I
felt that there was a twig emerging, and another from my
other eye;

is about how twigs were coming out of both eyes and not just the other eye. Maybe it was because I was trying to quickly memorize so many lines or maybe it was because the idea of twigs emerging from eyes is so strange to me that I couldn’t make sense of the sentence. Whatever the reason, spending time with the words is enabling me to understand them better.

Another revelation: near the beginning of the poem, the narrator “stopped to lean against a rock.” While running, I suddenly realized, they never leave that rock–the entire poem takes place there! I figured this out as I wondered about the rock in the line near the end, “I had to wiggle a bit to/ find a place to lay my head; the rock was very hard.” When I got home, I thought my theory wasn’t quite right because of the line: “soon, I crested a rise,” but now, as I write this, I’m wondering about what crested means here–to walk up a rise? to have their eyes travel to the top of it?

I like the idea of this long, wild story, being rooted at the rock from the beginning of the poem. And I love this idea of rooting, being rooted and how the story unfolds around it. I want to spend some more time thinking about what it means to root, be rooted, take root. I’d also like to write a poem like this–with a story at the gorge–about sinking.

One more thing: re-reading this poem just now, I’m thinking about how important seeing and eyes are. “I could see everything” is repeated 4 times, twigs emerge from the narrator’s eyes, and the poem all starts because the narrator is struck with “some sort of flying detritus” in both eyes. What’s up with that? Maybe tomorrow I can think about it as I run?

Right before climbing the hill at Edmund, I stopped in the grass, looking over at the fence above the tunnel of trees, and recorded myself reciting the poem.

what would root, may 20

I can’t believe I screwed up the first line and forgot the “cathedral”! I love the idea of a cathedral of trees. Overall, I’m happy with this recording. I messed up a few of the words, but I got almost all of it right. I’ll keep working on it for the rest of the week. I think it’s funny that I added “toss a coin” to the line “I wished for seed so I could toss it into that green”

may 19/RUN

2.55 miles
42nd st loop
57 degrees

Did a shorter run today. Warmer, overcast, not too windy. Heard some black capped chickadee’s doing their fee-bee call before I headed out, then the loud drumming of a woodpecker about a mile into the run. As usual, everything was green. Anything else I remember from my run? Saw and heard some roller skiers clickity-clacking. Also heard a kid calling out to an adult–“Let me go first!” And heard a woman, with a lot of anger in her voice, recounting a story about what some other woman had done–I don’t know what it was but I know that “she REALLY shouldn’t have done it!”

Memorized the rest of the Katie Farris poem, What Would Root. An epic undertaking! 402 words. Too much for reciting while running, I think. I do really like this poem and am glad to have memorized it. Will I try another this long again? Not sure. Sometimes Farris uses articles (like the) and sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes she includes a that, sometimes she doesn’t. I find it hard to always remember when. I like how she repeated the phrase “I could see everything” 4 times.

Listening back to the recording I made, right after I finished my run, staring into the sink hole at 7 Oaks, I noticed I dropped or added a few words. And I forgot one of my favorite lines: “that they were a part of my body I could not doubt, there were living and enervated and jutting out.”Not too bad for my first attempt at memorizing the entire thing. What a strange, wonderful poem. What does it all mean? Not sure about that yet. After I fully memorize it, I’ll have to dig into the lines, maybe on a longer run?

What Would Root, may 19

Last night, I worked some more on my Ode to Green poem. I’m still trying to figure out the form of the lines–tercets? a prose poem? one long series of lines? In “Ode to My Right Knee” Rita Dove uses couplets but I don’t think those works with my lines. Here’s the tercet version:

Ode to Green/ Sara Lynne Puotinen

Greedy gorge gobbler grifting
vistas. Vanishing views.
Overrunning overlooks. Orchestrating

take-overs–trees tressed,
scenes stolen, senses smothered. Stop.
Yield your yearly

domination. Dress down. Decide
against always
exuding excess.

Oh overabundant obstruction,
we want windows, ways
out, openings, other

perspectives, possibilities. Please
share some space. Surely
room remains

for faithful friends forever
craving crowd-less calm
where water waits, wants witnessing, where

laboring lungs long
to take
bigger, bug-less breaths beside
river’s rim?

may 18/RUN

3.5 miles
47th st loop
54 degrees

Sunny but windy this morning. So green! Was able to run right above the river for a few minutes. Hardly any view, mostly variations of green. At one spot, near the bench next to the boulder, I caught a glimpse of the river. So bright, it was almost white. Heard some birds but cannot remember what kinds or what their songs sounded like. Encountered some bikers, walkers, runners, all from more than 6 feet of distance. Forgot to look for the turkeys down by the tree graveyard/turkey hollow (I think I might have named it turkey meadow last week, but I like turkey hollow better). Avoided the big muddy puddles in the grass on the dirt trail near Becketwood by running in the road. Don’t remember much else because I spent most of my time reciting the first half of my next green poem: What Would Root.

Reciting While Running: What Would Root/Katie Farris

Started memorizing this poem about an hour before my run. I decided because it was longer, I’d divide it up and only memorize the first half now, then the rest later. Love this poem! It helps so much to memorize it. It forces me to pay close attention to all the words and to do more than just try to get to the end–which is something that can happen when I’m reading.

When I was finished running, I recorded myself reciting it into my phone. I got most of it right–except for the title and a word here and there. I think I screwed it up partly because I was self-conscious, walking near (but not too near, always 10 feet away) to others. One day, I will not be self-conscious at all. I am already better than I used to be.

what would root, may 18

I like the line, “scolded by squirrels/in their priestly black, their white collars/wagging with the force of their scolding,” although I can’t picture these squirrels. None of the ones around me are priestly black with white collars–about once or twice a year I might see a black squirrel, but the ones in my yard and by the gorge are brown. My favorite lines today: “and stopped to lean against a rock/to scrub it (I thought) away. It was May/it was May, it was May” I love the assonance with stopped, rock, and thought and the rhyme with away and May. And I love the break and refrain of “it was May, it was May, it was May” I also like the line, “it was all green, really;/even the red was anti-green”

a word I didn’t know or know how to pronounce

penstemon: pen stee muhn [from Merriam Webster] “any of a genus (Penstemon) of perennial, chiefly North American herbs or low shrubs of the snapdragon family typically with spikes of showy, two-lipped, tubular flowers with two lobes on the upper lip and three lobes on the lower lip”

Also called beardtongue because the flower often looks like an open mouth with a fuzzy tongue protruding.

Have I seen any of these? Probably, although it’s hard for me to tell from the images I found.

may 17/BIKERUN

bike: 27 minutes, stand, basement
run: 1.75 miles, treadmill, basement
raining and windy all day

No break in the rain today so I biked and ran in the basement. Decided to try reciting the 2 green poems I learned this week while biking, and then again while running. A fun challenge. I messed up a few lines but did surprisingly well speaking the lines while my heart rate was up–about 120 BPMs while biking, 165 BPMs while running. I need to work on getting the phone closer to my mouth and speaking louder while running. It would probably be easier to record while running on the road where I can vary my pace, instead of on the treadmill where I had to keep my pace steady.

The Trees/Phillip Larkin

biking, 120 BPM
running, 165 BPM

Instructions on Not Giving Up/ Ada Limón

biking, 120 BPM
running, 165 BPM

Next week, I’ll start on my third green poem. After all this rain, it will be extra green! Speaking of green, I continue to work on a poem inspired by Rita Dove’s alliteration in “Ode to My Right Knee.” It’s about the excess of green and how it hides my beautiful view of the river and its other side every year, from May to October.

Here’s my latest version:

Ode to Green/ Sara Lynne Puotinen

Greedy gorge gobbler grifting
vistas. Vanishing views.
Overruning overlooks. Orchestrating
take-overs–trees tressed,
scenes stolen, senses smothered. Stop.
Yield your yearly
domination. Dress demurely. Decide
against always
exuding excess.
O, overabundant obstruction,
we want windows, ways
out, openings, other
perspectives, possibilities. Please
share some space. Surely
room remains
for faithful friends?


may 16/RUN

4.3 miles
Edmund, north/river road, north/seabury, south/river road, south/edmund, south
57 degrees

What a wonderful morning run! The overcast sky made the green glow even more. Even as there were people out on the trails, there were stretches of solitude. Often, the closed road was empty. I was able to run right above the river a few times. Why can’t I remember what the river looked like? Encountered a large group of bikers–over 10, maybe 15 or 20?–by the railroad trestle, getting ready to head out somewhere. Glad I didn’t see them again. Heard some voices way below me, peered down the old wooden steps just north of the trestle to the Winchell Trail–so green and mysterious and buggy, I bet. Heard a murder of crows, then looked up and watched them circling in the sky. Also heard some Northern Cardinals and the strident, irritating call of a few bluejays (I think?).

Recited my poem a few times more. The line about the baubles and trinkets seems to have a bit more movement. Recited it into my phone right after I finished walking, when my heart rate was still high and my breathing heavy, but got distracted by some approaching walkers and momentarily forgot a line. Still made it through the whole poem.

Instructions on Not Giving Up, may 16

open swim

Last night I found out that they are not cancelling open swim. This confuses me. How can it be safe enough to gather and swim? And it saddens me. As much as I love my fellow swimmers when we are all in the lake, I am not confident we can social distance in the water. How can I? With my bad vision–barely able to see buoys or bobbing caps–I might run into someone else. It was difficult to miss out on swimming when I thought it was cancelled. It is even harder to have to make the choice not to do it when it’s still happening.

Thought I’d end with another rumination on green. This time, green grass and one of my favorite parts of Song of Myself.

Song of Myself, 6 [A child said, What is the grass?]/ Walt Whitman

A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them, soon out of their mothers’ laps,
And here you are the mothers’ laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

Favorite line for a long time: “the beautiful uncut hair of graves”

may 15/RUN

4 miles
32nd st loop
51 degrees

Decided to run the whole loop, from 32nd to 42nd to 32nd again to see how long it is: 3.2 miles. Added on some extra in the neighborhood to make it to 4 miles. Not too bad. I wonder how many loops I could do? Should that be a goal this summer? Maybe. I suppose if I can’t loop in the lake, I’ll have to do it on land.

Another beautiful spring morning. Not too windy or crowded. I think I remember hearing a black capped chickadee (and I can hear them outside of my window as I type this). Not sure about any other birds–I bet they were chattering but I tuned them out. Noticed the soft green glow of the leaves over the gorge offering less of a view and more of a mood or a feeling. Was almost able to get a glimpse of the river but the rim of the bluff was too far away and it was too green. I didn’t run on the trail at all today, just the road.

reciting while running

Recited “Instructions on Not Giving Up” over and over again. A few times I even whispered it out loud. Didn’t really stumble over any words, except for maybe, “the world’s baubles and trinkets,” because it seems to stop the flow of the sentences. Does it or is it that I haven’t fully memorized the poem yet? My favorite line today: “more than the neighbor’s/ almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving/ their cotton-candy color blossoms to the slate/ sky of spring rains.” I remember now how I stumbled over “cotton candy color blossoms” a few times–I’d think candy cotton or cotton-candy colored instead. Why does she use color and not colored? Or, why do I assume it should be colored–because of phrases like “rose colored glasses”?

update, may 21: Looking over this poem again, I noticed that it DOES say “cotton-candy colored.” Why did I see it as cotton-candy color before? Must be my very bad vision.

Right after I finished running, I pulled out my phone and recorded myself reciting the poem. I almost got it all right, except: 1. I said through instead of out of the crabapple tree, 2. their green skin instead of the green skin, and 3. continuously living instead of continuous living.

Instructions on Not Giving Up, may 15

Found this poem the other day and bookmarked it. I love poems that give advice in unconventional ways.

ADVICE FROM A BAT/ Michael T. Young

Hunt only at night. Fly erratically.
Defy even your own expectations.
Feed on beetles, moths, and mosquitoes,
whatever is small and annoying.
Cultivate the myths about you
until every predator fears your legend.
When hunting, be guided by a language
only you can hear. The same is true
when courting the one you love.
Clean fangs and fur nightly. Crawl
or climb to confuse the observant.
Retreat to a cave no one believes in.
Let the day and the world pass
while you sleep, and sleep upside down,
ready to wake and fall into flight.

A few favorite lines: “Defy even your own expectations”, “Feed on…whatever is small and annoying”, and “Retreat to a cave no one believes in.”

may 14/WALK

Woke up this morning and decided I should take a day off from running. Went on 2 walks instead and enjoyed being outside on my deck as much as possible while my high school aged son took 2 AP tests–AP Chemistry and AP Physics–back to back in his room. Such a strange time.

I memorized my next green poem on the deck: Instructions for Not Giving Up/ Ada Limón. It was easier to memorize than Larkin’s The Trees. Why? I think formal meter trips me up. Sitting on the deck, repeating the first line over and over–“More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out of the crabapple tree” “More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out of the crabapple tree”–I wasn’t thinking at all about the fuchsia funnels breaking out of the big crabapple tree in my backyard. This year, the blossoms are exceptional. It wasn’t until I was out walking through the neighborhood with Scott and Delia the dog, looking at the brightly colored flowers on the trees, that I realized it. I guess I was too focused on remembering the words. I love how memorizing these poems helps me to spend more time with them and to acquire better words for the world around me. I wouldn’t have thought to describe the flowers as fuchsia funnels, but it really fits. Now, as I walk around the neighborhood, all I can see is one fuchsia funnel after another.

a hiding bird + more turkeys!

Maybe I should start calling the tree graveyard turkey meadow instead? Every time I’m there I see wild turkeys. Last night, Scott and I watched one crossing the road, its head awkwardly bobbing back and forth. A few minutes, later we heard a bird calling out loudly, repeatedly. We stopped and stared up at the big tree where we thought it was, but neither of us could spot it. I wish I would have recorded its call. I can’t remember it now. Was it another Northern Cardinal? A goldfinch?

may 13/RUN

3.5 miles
32nd st loop*
52 degrees

*edmund, north/32nd st, east/river road, south/42nd st, east/edmund, north/34th st, west)

Tried a variation on the loop I did yesterday by making it a little longer. My loop yesterday from home to 36th to 42nd to 36th again was about 1.8 miles; the loop today from home to 32nd to 42nd to 34th was about 3 miles. Next time, I should try continuing on until 32nd and see how long a complete loop is. It’s fun to figure out different routes. I’m thinking this might be the summer of loops.

It’s overcast this morning. Rain coming soon. Everything was green and quiet and expectant. Up on edmund early in the run, I saw a roller skier down below. A few minutes later, I passed them on the hill. Can’t remember if I heard them clickity-clacking. Saw a few other runners, walkers, and bikers. Not too crowded except for the spot on the road right before the tunnel of trees. Trucks were blocking half the road, working on high speed internet lines. Couldn’t see the river because I was too far away from the bluff. At some point, when I was closest to the bluff, I heard some rustling in the bushes just beyond the trail. What was down there? A squirrel? A bird? A coyote?

bird sounds

Didn’t hear any black-capped chickadees this morning but as I was nearing 42nd, I hear a few other birds that sounded like laser beams or guns from 70s science-fiction movies. Pew pew pew. Looked it up and I’m pretty sure it was a few northern cardinals. As I was turning onto Edmund, I thought about how much more I’m paying attention to bird sounds this year and how my language/description is getting more specific. In the past, when I talked about birds, I might describe them as singing or chirping or trilling but I wasn’t really thinking about the specific sounds they were making. I was using those verbs generically. I should start making a big list of words for bird sounds that I find.

reciting while running

Recited The Trees again this morning. Over and over. Thought about the meter and how it was easy to lock into a cadence that sounded too rhythmic until I got to the line, “Yet still the unresting castles thresh.” Can’t remember that much else about the poem while I was running but later, while walking Delia the dog, I thought about the first line and the unique, musical and literal way he describes the leaves returning to the trees–“The trees are coming into leaf.” Then I thought about the second line–“Almost like something being said.” Later in the poem, Larkin tells us what they seem to say: “Last year is dead” and “Begin afresh afresh afresh” I wonder, what else might the leaves be saying? What do I hear them saying?

sidewalk poetry

Yesterday, during our evening walk, Scott and I noticed some writing on the sidewalk. If I had stopped and spent a few minutes staring at it, I could have read it, even with my bad vision. Luckily I didn’t have to; Scott could read it instantly. A haiku by the famous Japanese poet Issa about a snail climbing Mt. Fuji slowly. I am familiar with Issa but haven’t really studied them–I’ve read up a little more on one of the other notable Japanese poets, Basho. Very cool. I love how literary my neighborhood is–we live in the Cooper (as in James Fenimore Cooper) part of Longfellow (as in Henry Longfellow) neighborhood. Within a few blocks of me are 2 different poetrees (trees with poem prompts affixed to them). I’d like to chalk some Emily Dickinson on our sidewalk–maybe “In the name of the Bees—And the Butterflies—And the Breeze—Amen!”

Speaking of Issa, when I looked him up on the poetry foundation site, I found this delightful poem:

[the snow is melting]
BY KOBAYASHI ISSA, TRANSLATED BY ROBERT HASS

The snow is melting 
and the village is flooded 
      with children.

may 12/RUN

4 miles
river road, south/42nd street, west/edmund, north x 2 + extra on edmund at end
42 degrees

Decided to try looping today. Starting at the end of my block, turning right at the river, looping back on edmund twice = 3.44 miles. Stayed on edmund after the second loop past 36th and kept running until 34th. Not too bad. Maybe next time I loop, I’ll try turning left on edmund, running north until 33rd, running south on the river road until 42nd. How much more distance will that add?

Wore a new pair of running shoes today: some Saucony grid cohesions that I bought 6 months ago. Slate gray with mint green accents. I had thought, when I ordered them online, that they were black (because the description said they were black) but gray will do. The favorite color I’ve had so far? Electric blue. I wish I could still get those.

A good run. Still cold outside but not for long. Maybe the 80s next week. I wore my winter vest + long sleeve green shirt + winter tights. I’m ready to put away all these layers!

Sounds

  • a black-capped chickadee singing the “feebee” song
  • a woodpecker drumming on a tree
  • a few crows
  • the clickity-clack of a roller skier
  • some part of my vest banging against my shoulder, sounding like another runner approaching from behind
  • a tin whistle chirp from some bird I couldn’t identify (I think it’s a Robin)
  • car wheels slowly approaching from behind
  • a group of three walkers talking

Made sure to look down at the river for the short time that I was able to run right above the gorge. Blue framed in green. Don’t remember noticing it sparkling or shimmering or undulating or doing anything but being below me. After I crossed over to the road, I noticed the soft green glow of the new leaves lining the bluff. I think this spring and summer are going to much more about green than blue.

reciting while running

On my second day of reciting The Trees by Phillip Larkin, I did a much better job of remembering all the lines. I don’t think I stumbled over any this time. Thought a lot about the line, “Last year is dead, they seem to say/Begin afresh, afresh, afresh” For me, when does a new year begin–the fall or the spring? And where does winter fit into all of it? Also thought about the line “Their greenness is a kind of grief” and the contrast between Larkin’s grief as the greening of the trees and Gerard Manley Hopkins’s golden unleaving grief. How do these griefs differ for me? Which one is more difficult? At the end of my run, I recorded myself reciting the poem. Not perfect, but okay. The only glaring mistake is the last line. Instead of saying “Begin afresh” I say “Be afresh.” Begin sounds so much better, makes much more sense, than be.

The Trees, may 12

Since I mentioned Hopkins, I thought I’d put in Spring and Fall again (which is one of the first poems I remember memorizing and loving back in high school):

Spring and Fall 
BY GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving 
Over Goldengrove unleaving? 
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? 
Ah! ás the heart grows older 
It will come to such sights colder 
By and by, nor spare a sigh 
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; 
And yet you wíll weep and know why. 
Now no matter, child, the name: 
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same. 
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed 
What heart heard of, ghost guessed: 
It ís the blight man was born for, 
It is Margaret you mourn for.

may 11/RUN

3.7 miles
47th ave loop, short
43 degrees

A little too cold but beautiful and sunny and not too crowded. I don’t remember getting close enough to look down at the river but I do remember noticing the trees glowing in a soft green light. Ran on the trail, the grass, the road, the dirt, and the sidewalk. Felt relaxed and strong and not consumed with worry.

reciting while running

I began reciting my new poem today, the first in my “green” series: The Trees by Phillip Larkin. Before heading out for my run, I memorized it while sitting at the dining room table. Then I repeated it over and over again in my head as I ran. 3 quatrains, abba rhyme. The more I recited it, the more I locked in the iambic tetrameter. Except for the first line of the third stanza: “Yet still the unresting castles thresh.” This line seems strange to me. It doesn’t quite fit the meter; there’s an extra beat with the word “the.” Would it work better without that word–“Yet still unresting castles thresh”? Why does he add “the”? Today my favorite lines were: “Is it that they are born again,/ And we grow old? No, they die too./ Their yearly trick of looking new/ Is written down in rings of grain.” I especially enjoyed discovering the rhythm in the first 2 lines as I ran.

birds! birds! birds!

I saw 6 wild turkeys grazing in the tree graveyard. I slowed down to count them. Almost stopped to take a picture or a video, but decided against it. Heard the low drumming of a woodpecker–was it our Pileated friend? About 3 miles in, I heard a male black capped chickadee singing the 3 syllable “hey sweetie” song. Until now, I’ve only heard the 2 syllable “feebee” song. So cool! I tried looking for a recording of the 3 syllable sound but I couldn’t find it. I wish I would have stopped to record it! I thought about doing it but I didn’t. Why don’t I ever stop? Just to be sure, I checked the site and re-read the song description: “In most of North America, the song is a simple, pure 2 or 3-note whistled fee-bee or hey, sweetie.”

may 10/WALKRUNWALK

walk: 3.45 miles, morning
around longfellow neighbhorhood
run: 1.3 miles
treadmill, basement
walk: 3 miles, evening
around longfellow neighborhood

Lots of walking today. Actually, lots of walking every day. I am averaging over 11 miles of walking and running a day during this pandemic. During the first walk, it was sunny, then lightly raining, then sunny, then overcast, then raining, then sleeting, then sunny. Strange. Walking on Edmund, near the river, it was quiet and calm. Somber. Almost like a funeral processional. Groups of people evenly spaced along the road, umbrellas aloft, marching toward downtown silently.

I decided to run on the treadmill so I could record myself reciting “Ode to My Right Knee” while I ran. Not too difficult, but hard enough that I couldn’t think about much else but breathing and repeating the lines. No interesting insights on the words or the rhythms. I’ll have to try reciting and recording while running again. After I finished running, I recorded the poem while walking. You can really tell the difference, I think.

reciting while running, treadmill
reciting while walking, treadmill

In the late afternoon, we walked again. No rain, but some wind. Scott and I saw another pileated woodpecker! Was it the same one? Not sure. It tried to hide from us on the other side of a tree and when that didn’t work, it flew away.

may 9/RUN

Even as I often think about how white running is, and how white and privileged the spaces I run in are, I rarely (if ever?) post about it on this blog. Why not–maybe something to interrogate further? But when I saw this thread about the recent murder of Ahmaud Arbery while he was running through his neighborhood, I knew I needed to post it here. This thread offers a brief history of the whiteness of running and the dangers of running while black and links to several useful articles, including:

3 miles
river road, south/edmund, north/33rd street, west/44th ave, south
45 degrees

Overcast this morning but not too cold or too windy. The river road is completely closed to cars now. Much quieter and calmer. Not crowded–except for all the green on the edge of the bluff blocking the view. Didn’t see the river even once. Barely glimpsed the oak savanna by the ancient boulder that looks like an armchair. Don’t remember hearing many birds. No clickity-clacks from a roller skier. Did hear a small group of bikers talking as they approached from the north. I can’t remember what I thought about–maybe that’s partly because I’m writing this hours after my run. Recited “Ode to My Right Knee” a few more times. A good, uneventful run.

After looking way too long for a poem I might post, I found this beautiful one by Linda Paston. I first encountered her through her poem Vertical (which I experimented with on this blog a few years ago).

I Am Learning To Abandon the World/ Linda Pastan

I am learning to abandon the world
before it can abandon me.
Already I have given up the moon
and snow, closing my shades
against the claims of white.
And the world has taken
my father, my friends.
I have given up melodic lines of hills,
moving to a flat, tuneless landscape.
And every night I give my body up
limb by limb, working upwards
across bone, towards the heart.
But morning comes with small
reprieves of coffee and birdsong.
A tree outside the window
which was simply shadow moments ago
takes back its branches twig
by leafy twig.
And as I take my body back
the sun lays its warm muzzle on my lap
as if to make amends.

The site on found this poem on is fascinating. I’ve been returning it to every so often–anonymous, combining fragments from their life with poems.

may 8/RUN

3.3 miles
river road, north/river road, south/edmund, south
40 degrees

Brrr. Colder today but still sunny and green and spring-y. No surprise snow storms here. (note: after writing this smug sentence, I came across a tweet by MPR weather–we might get some snow on Sunday. Less than a inch, but still snow. I promise to not be smug again!) Ran a little later and was able to greet Dave, the Daily Walker. I’m not sure the last time I saw him–a week ago? Didn’t hear any woodpeckers or black capped chickadees or geese or roller skiers. Did hear my feet shshshushing on the grit at the edge of the road. Also heard my iPhone banging against my headphones in my chest pocket at the beginning of my run. I don’t remember hearing it later. Did it stop or settle or did I tune it out? Saw a few runners, some bikers, more walkers. Was able to keep my distance almost all of the time. I might have gotten closer than 6 feet for a few seconds once near the rowing club. I ran on the trail, the dirt, the road, the grit, and the grass. Don’t remember looking down at the river or noticing how abundantly green it was. I do remember running through the Welcoming Oaks and greeting every single one of them. I noticed that all but one of the cairns on the ancient boulder had blown off in the wind or been knocked off by something. Also noticed that they have closed down the entire parkway starting at the trestle and heading north. Will that make it much more crowded on Seabury and Edmund? I hope not. I bet it will make it super crowded on the parkway in the late afternoon.

what happened?

Yesterday, on our daily evening walk, Scott and I heard a lot of sirens. When we got near the river, we saw them all lined up near folwell. 7 or 8 emergency vehicles. What happened? I hope no one was seriously hurt or killed.

reciting while running is a success

Recited “Ode to My Right Knee Again.” I have finally mastered pronouncing obstreperous. Briefly contemplated taking out my phone and trying to recite it into the voice memo app but I wimped out. Now, I wish I would have. I’ll have to try tomorrow or Sunday on the treadmill. Last night Scott and I were discussing the poem as we finished up our walk–we talked about the phrase leathery Lothario and which word in it was worse. He agreed that leathery was awful, explaining that Lothario is not specific enough to be too terrible, but that leathery conjures up a specific image for him of an older woman who has spent too much time in the sun and smoked too much. I think it is very cool to spend this much time with these words and really thinking through what they might mean and how they affect the reader. The reciting while running project is turning out to be a big success!

Speaking of running while reciting, here’s another possible poem to memorize this month:

The Trees/ Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Click on the link to watch an awesome animated video with Larkin’s reading of the poem. Sweet!

I love the lines, “Their greenness is a kind of grief.” and “Their yearly trick of looking new” Something about this poem and the full-grown thickness every May reminded me of Williams Carlos Williams’ “Winter Trees.” I’d like to memorize this poem and maybe compose a companion poem, “Summer Trees.”

I think this poem, Larkin’s “The Trees” will be the next poem I memorize. I find the rhyme scheme–abba, which I discovered is called enclosed rhyme–to be a bit awkward sounding. I wonder how it will move when I’m running?

may 7/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/edmund, north/34th, west/44th, south
50 degrees

A shorter run today because I’ve already run 3 days in a row this week. Another sunny, calm, beautiful morning. Ran on the trail right above the river heading south. Oh, the river! So sparkly and shiny and inviting. Almost stopped to look at it for a few minutes. I need to do that someday soon when it’s early. Didn’t hear the black capped chickadee. Did I hear any birds? I can’t remember. Heard at least one person talking. A leaf blower and a lawn mower. A kid explaining something to an adult–his mom, maybe? Felt strong and relaxed.

Recited “Ode to My Right Knee” again a few times. Got distracted, so I didn’t recite it straight through. Lots of stopping and starting again. I think the phrase that generates the most negative reaction from me is “leathery Lothario.” Which part of it is worse, leathery or Lothario? I think it’s leathery. Anything leathery sounds gross to me. A leathery knee? Yuck. But what does the Lothario mean here? The knee as seducer, foppish rake?

the howling dog

My new morning running routine is to run, return home, and pick up Delia the dog for a short walk around a block or two. So calm and quiet and beautiful! As Delia stopped at every tree to sniff, I stood straight and slowly breathed in the trees and peonies and the gentle breeze. On the next block, Delia sniffed up and down a new branch shooting out of the bottom of a trunk and a dog barked from a backyard. As we walked away, it started to howl. It howled for a long time–20 or 30 seconds–and sounded like a wounded animal. It did not sound like a dog. So strange. At first, I tried not to laugh because it was so weird but then I thought about how lonely and sad this dog might be–or maybe that’s just how it complains or shouts out its “good morning?” I wish I had had my phone with me to record the sound. I’ll have to take Delia by that house again tomorrow and bring my phone.

May/ Jonathan Galassi

The backyard apple tree gets sad so soon,
takes on a used-up, feather-duster look
within a week.

The ivy’s spring reconnaissance campaign
sends red feelers out and up and down
to find the sun.

Ivy from last summer clogs the pool,
brewing a loamy, wormy, tea-leaf mulch
soft to the touch

and rank with interface of rut and rot.
The month after the month they say is cruel
is and is not.

Love the images of a sad apple tree looking like a used-up feather-duster and the sludge in the pool as a loamy, wormy, tea-leaf mulch that is “rank with interface of rut and rot.” Also appreciate and agree with the idea that May is both cruel and not cruel. Everything is getting too green too fast and yet, it’s wonderful and so needed to have all the green. My backyard looks full and glowing–the weeds aren’t too much yet but they’re already starting to establish their supremacy. It’s mostly in the 60s with sun, but every day that’s colder seems even colder and crueler by comparison. Speaking of colder, the northeast is supposed to get a huge winter storm this weekend. Upstate New York and New England could get up to a foot of snow and lots of frozen slushy stuff.

Thinking more about the green ode I started yesterday. I like using Dove’s form for it–but maybe making it seem more excessive than she does with all my alliteration. For the rest of May, I’d like to memorize some green poems to get more ideas about green and excess and abundance.

Green in Poetry

may 6/RUN

3.5 miles
47th ave loop, short
52 degrees

Beautiful sunny breezy morning. A little more crowded than usual, but still got over 6 feet of distance from everyone. Heard a black capped chickadee calling out and waiting for an answer 3 times as I started my run:

Hello?
Hello?
Hello?
Listen.

Did I notice the river? I don’t remember.

The run was peaceful and relaxing but at moments, difficult and labored. I recited my poem–Ode to My Right Knee–a few times. Noticed how the alliteration for n was only 2 words: No noise. In some lines I found yesterday in my notes, I had 2 ns too: noisy nothingness

Anything else? Runners, bikers, and several pairs of walkers taking over the road. No turkeys. No way of seeing the river from high up on Edmund–too much green. Glanced at a few benches.

Thinking about green, here are a few lines about green in the spring, inspired by Rita Dove’s alliteration:

Ode to Green

Greedy green gluts gobbling gorges, grifting
vistas. Vast views vanished
or overrun. Orchestrated
take-overs: trees trimmed, tressed, twined,
voluminously vined.
Air altered. Advancing
leaves lining limbs
their thick thatches
blue-blocking blinding breathtaking.
Oh overcrowding obstruction! Oh
consuming, constricting color!

That’s all I have right now. I’ll keep working on it. I love the color green and seeing it in the spring, yet I dislike how excessive it is, how it overruns everything.

Started reading Marie Howe’s Magdalene last night. Wow! Love this poem:

Magdalene—The Seven Devils/ Marie Howe

“Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven devils had been cast out”

Luke 8:2.

The first was that I was very busy.

The second—I was different from you: whatever happened to you could
not happen to me, not like that.

The third—I worried.

The fourth—envy, disguised as compassion.

The fifth was that I refused to consider the quality of life of the aphid,
The aphid disgusted me.  But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The mosquito too—its face.    And the ant—its bifurcated body.

Ok   the first was that I was so busy. 

The second that I might make the wrong choice,
because I had decided to take that plane that day,
that flight, before noon, so as to arrive early
and, I shouldn’t have wanted that.
The third was that if I walked past the certain place on the street
the house would blow up.   

The fourth was that I was made of guts and blood with a thin layer
of skin lightly thrown over the whole thing.

The fifth was that the dead seemed more alive to me than the living

The sixth—if I touched my right arm I had to touch my left arm, and if I
touched  the left arm a little harder than I’d first touched the right then I had
to retouch the left and then touch the right again so it would be even.  

The seventh—I knew I was breathing the expelled breath of everything that
was alive, and I couldn’t stand it.
I wanted a sieve, a mask, a, I hate this word—cheesecloth—
to breath through that would trap it—whatever was inside everyone else that
entered me when I breathed in.

No.  That was the first one.

The second was that I was so busy.  I had no time.   How had this happened?
How had our lives gotten like this?

The third was that I couldn’t eat food if I really saw it—distinct, separate
from me in a bowl or on a plate. 

Ok. The first was that. I could never get to the end of the list.
The second was that the laundry was never finally done.

The third was that no one knew me, although they thought they did.
And that if people thought of me as little as I thought of them then what was
love?  

The fourth was I didn’t belong to anyone. I wouldn’t allow myself to belong
to anyone.

The fifth was that I knew none of us could ever know what we didn’t know.

The sixth was that I projected onto others what I myself was feeling.

The seventh was the way my mother looked   when she was dying, 
the sound she made—her mouth wrenched to the right and cupped open
so as to take in as much air… the gurgling sound, so loud
we had to speak louder to hear each other over it.

And that I couldn’t stop hearing it—years later—grocery shopping, crossing the street—

No, not the sound—it was   her body’s hunger
finally evident—what our mother had hidden all her life.

For months I dreamt of knucklebones and roots,   
the slabs of sidewalk pushed up like crooked teeth by what grew underneath.

The underneath.  That was the first devil.   It was always with me
And that I didn’t think you—if I told you—would understand any of this—

may 5/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/seabury, south/river road, south/edmund, south
48 degrees

Started my run listening to 2 male black-capped chickadees calling out to each other over and over again. Sometimes one after the other, sometimes on top of each other. I wish I could have recorded it. As they called out, I tried to remember the words to my recent poem about them. All I could think of was: “let’s do nothing—slow down/down size” and “hello? hello.”

A nice run. Forgot to greet the Welcoming Oaks as I ran by them but did notice that there were 3 or 4 cairns stacked on the ancient boulders–both the tall and short ones. In past years, there’s has only ever been one cairn stacked on the taller rock. Ran down through the tunnel of trees and checked the progress of the leaves: a full green veil. No view of the trail winding through the forest to the river. In other spots, higher up on the path, I could see brief slashes of the river through the greening trees.

Started reciting my poem of the week: Ode to My Right Knee. I struggled to pronounce “obstreperous” and had to say it a few times in my head before I got it right and could move on. Favorite lines today? I think it was: “Membrane matter-of-factly/corroding, crazed cartilage calming chipping/away as another arduous ambulation/ begins. Bone bruising bone.” Thought about how quickly I recite this poem–not franticly, but almost. Why? Is it the alliteration and how it seems shaped by the words and not any particular meter? Am I not noticing the rhythm?

After reciting the ode for a while, I decided to recite all of the other poems I’ve memorized this year. Stumbled a little in “tell all the truth but tell it slant” on the line: “As lightening to the children eased/with explanation kind”

I feel like there was something else that happened that I’m forgetting now, something that made me stop reciting for a few minutes. What was it? Oh–I remember! Running south on seabury, then the river road trail, I kept hearing this strange rubbing, almost squeaking sound. At times I thought I was causing it–a weird way I was running or some part of my jacket or ponytail brushing against my shoulder? Then I thought it might be an odd bird call or another runner’s or walker’s noisy gait. Still not sure what caused it but it was probably was me since it followed me for a lot of the time. Maybe it was my shadow? Whatever it was, it was mildly irritating.

Came across this wonderful poem about water in the collection Rose, the other day:

WATER/ Li Young-Lee

The sound of the 36 pines side by side
  surrounding
the years and swaying all night like
  individual humans is the sound
of water, which is the oldest sound,
the first sound we forgot.

At the ocean
my brother stands in water
to his knees, his chest bare, hard, his
  arms
thick and muscular. He is no
  swimmer.
In water
my sister is no longer
lonely. Her right leg is crooked and
  smaller
than her left, but she swims straight.
Her whole body is a glimmering fish.

Water is my father’s life-sign.
Son of water who’ll die by water,
the element which rules his life shall
  take it.
After being told by a wish man in
  Shantung,
after almost drowning twice,
he avoided water. But the sign of
  water
is a flowing sign, going where its
  children go.

Water has invaded my father’s
heart, swollen, heavy,
twice as large. Bloated
liver. Bloated legs.
The feet have become balloons.
A respirator mask makes him look
like a diver. When I lay my face
against his–the sound of water
returning.

The sound of washing
is the sound of sighting,
is the only sound
as I was my father’s feet—
those lonely twins
who have forgotten one another—
one by one in warm water
I tested with my wrist.
In soapy water
they’re two dumb fish
whose eyes close in a filmy dream.

I dry, then powder them
with talc rising in cluods
like dust lifting
behind jeeps, a truck where he sat
bleeding through his socks.
1949, he’s 30 years old,
his toenails pulled out,
his toes beaten a beautiful
violet that reminds him
of Hunan, barely morning
in the yard, and where
he walked, the grass springing back
damp and green.

The sound of rain
outlives us. I listen,
someone is whispering.
Tonight, it’s water
the curtains resemble, water
drumming on the steel cellar door,
  water
we crossed to come to America,
water I’ll cross to go back,
water which will kill my father.
The sac of water we live in.

Last year, I posted another poem by Li Young-Lee, “From Blossoms.” Such a wonderful poet! What a great opening stanza. I’d definitely like to add that to lines I’ve memorized:

The sound of the 36 pines side by side
  surrounding
the years and swaying all night like
  individual humans is the sound
of water, which is the oldest sound,
the first sound we forgot.

I have started to acquire many wonderful poems about water. Maybe in June, in honor of what should be the start of Open Swim, I’ll memorize a series of water poems. This one, and one by Ed Bok Lee, one by May Swenson, and one by Maxine Kumin. I might have a few more too.

may 4/RUN

4 miles
47th ave loop
45 degrees

A little colder today but sunny and not too windy and wonderful. The slight but persistent sinus headache I have had for 3 or 4 days has mostly lifted. The run felt easier, more relaxed. Heard the male black capped chickadee’s feebee song. Did I hear any woodpeckers? I can’t remember. Heard the clickety-clack of a roller skier. Encountered a few walkers and runners and bikers, but at a very safe distance of at least 10 feet or more, I think. Noticed how much thicker the green veil is. Saw the river, blue and shiny. Didn’t even think about looking for turkeys down by the tree graveyard–but Scott did. On his run, a few minutes earlier than me, he stopped and took an awesome video of at least 6 turkeys walking across the road. Gobbling!

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Seen on my morning run…

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Reciting While Running

While I ran, I recited the poem I picked to memorize this week: Ode to My Right Knee by Rita Dove. I came across this poem several years ago when I was looking for poems about knees and I’ve always wanted to spend more time with it. Memorizing and reciting it is a great way to do that.

Ode to My Right Knee/ Rita Dove

Oh, obstreperous one, ornery outside of ordinary

protocols; paramilitary probie par

excellence: Every evidence
you yield yells.

No noise
too tough to tackle, tears

springing such sudden salt
when walking wrenches:

Haranguer, hag, hanger-on—how
much more maddening

insidious imperfection?
Membranes matter-of-factly

corroding, crazed cartilage calmly chipping
away as another arduous ambulation

begins, bone bruising bone.
Leathery Lothario, lone laboring

gladiator grappling, groveling
for favor; fair-weather forecaster, fickle friend,

jive jiggy joint:
Kindly keep kicking.

I love this poem and am very happy I memorized it, which was not that difficult. Am I getting better at memorizing, or did I connect with this poem more than others, or something else? I don’t know. It was fun to become better acquainted with the words. I love the abundant alliteration which doesn’t seem excessive but natural. I’d like to try writing some lines like these. Back in 2018, I wrote an abecedarian about sighting the lake buoys and in one draft I had the line: wondering what will work what won’t when waves warp. I didn’t keep it, but I remember the fun of discovering it.

Today as I recited it over and over again, I thought about the phrase, “fair-weather forecaster” and the surprise of it because “fair-weather friend” is such a common expression that you might anticipate that friend will end that phrase, not forecaster. I also like how well this pithily describes the phenomenon of aching knees as weather vanes. I briefly wondered if reciting lines about cartilage chipping away, membranes corroding, and arduous ambulations was the best idea when I was running–would it give my right knee some bad ideas?–but it was fine and fun and fast. I wonder how many times I repeated the poem?

some words that I was familiar with but didn’t know the precise meanings of:
  • obstreperous: unruly, noisy
  • From Merriam Webster “Obstreperous” comes from ob- “in the way,” “against,” or “toward,” plus strepere, a verb meaning “to make a noise,” so someone who is obstreperous is literally making noise to rebel against something, much like a protesting crowd or an unruly child. 
  • probie: probationary rank, rookie
  • Lothario: a man whose chief interest is in seducing women; a foppish, unscrupulous rake (note: love this second definition!)
    From Merriam Webster: “Lothario comes from The Fair Penitent (1703), a tragedy by Nicholas Rowe. In the play, Lothario is a notorious seducer, extremely attractive but beneath his charming exterior a haughty and unfeeling scoundrel. He seduces Calista, an unfaithful wife and later the fair penitent of the title. After the play was published, the character of Lothario became a stock figure in English literature. For example, Samuel Richardson modeled the character of Lovelace on Lothario in his 1748 novel Clarissa. As the character became well known, his name became progressively more generic, and since the 18th century the word lothario has been used for a foppish, unscrupulous rake.

Towards the end of my run, I tried to recite Carl Phillip’s “And Swept All Visible Signs Away,” but I struggled. I need to make sure and review all the poems I’ve already memorized so I don’t lose their words. How many poems can I keep in my head at one time? Not sure.

may 3/RUN

4.1 miles
river road, north/seabury, south/river road, south/edmund,south
50 degrees

Went running earlier this morning. Left the house at 7:30. Overdressed with tights under my shorts and two long-sleeved shirts. A calm, beautiful, sunny morning. The gorge continues to green. I can still see through the leaves to the other side, but it’s getting harder. Only remember looking at the river once, almost at the end of my run. Up on the highest part of Edmund, looking down past the parkway to the path, I could see the sparkling shine of the water through the trees. What a sight!

Recited my poem for the week, Dear One Absent This Long While. Like on Friday, it was difficult to recite it steadily. I could say a few lines then I would get distracted for a minute or two. Maybe because I had initially left the first stanza off when I was memorizing the poem, I struggled with the first line: “It has been so wet stones glaze in moss.” It sounds awkward to me, like a word or a comma is missing. I do like the second line: “everything blooms coldly.” Sounds like spring in Minnesota. At the end of the run, I recorded myself reciting it into my phone. I wasn’t self-conscious, which is a big improvement from the beginning of the week.

Dear One, 3 May

may 1/RUN

3.8 miles
47th ave loop, short
55 degrees

note: In April, I tracked the number of deaths due to COVID-19. I wanted to add these in as a way to acknowledge how scary and surreal it is even as I write about the things I’m enjoying, noticing on my run. For this month, I’ve decided not to include this data. I’m hoping to avoid thinking about the virus as much as I can. Is this possible? Will it help? I’ll see at the end of the month.

Gloomy and gray but not cold. Ran into the wind at first, then had it at my back on the way home. I remember looking at the river and I remember admiring it but I can’t remember why or what it looked like. The leaves are filling in on the trees. Slowly the green veil is growing. Soon, no more view. Not too crowded on the trail and was able to keep at least 6 feet of distance. My knee felt okay–a little stiff and sore afterwards.

Recited the poem, “Dear One Absent This Long While.” Didn’t have any problems remembering the lines, but had to take a lot of time between lines–too focused on the effort of running. Oh–at first, I recited a line as “I have new shoes” then boots then I remembered it was “I have new gloves.” Thought about how gloves fits much better than boots or shoes in telling the story of a gardener. One of my favorite lines: “She has the quiet ribs of a salamander crossing the old pony post road.” Quiet ribs. Old pony post road. Salamander. Such great phrases/images/words!

Found this poem the other day, and I thought about Bruce Lee and the interview in which he talked about being water.

ANTHEM/ Aaliya Zaveri

This is my first memory of my mother.
We were in India.
My mother, graceful, cross-legged in front of her sewing
machine and I, holding the pins.
She stops running material abruptly and takes my small
face in her cupped hands,
my round cheeks in her long fingers. I could feel the cold
metal of her engagement ring, her wedding ring.
She said to me:
one day you will be a woman. And I want you to understand
that you must be like water.
Like water, you have to know where you are going before
anyone else does.
You have to be able to rush into the gaps. You have to be
diffuse. You have to uncoil
to fill the space.

You have to be transparent.
In times of hardship, in the times of heat, you have to steam
only then will your rise.
You have to be smooth. You have to shift easily. Stay the
same but take the shape of every new place.
You have to be patient. You have to move only when you are
called to move.

You also have to know when not to move.
You have to know when to freeze and then expand so full
and so eloquent, you can force those spaces in between rocks
to deepen, to widen, and then force the rocks to shatter.
you must watch, she said, You must reflect back. You must
be water.

Love thinking about who to be like water:

  • rush into the gaps
  • be diffuse
  • uncoil
  • fill the space
  • transparent
  • in times of hardship, steam, so as to rise
  • smooth
  • shift easily
  • stay the same but take the shape of every new place
  • patient
  • move only when you are called to move
  • know when not to move
  • know when to freeze and then expand so full you force spaces between rocks to deepen, widen, shatter
  • reflect back

Do all these fit? I’m not sure, but I like thinking about what water does/is and how to try and be more like it. I love water–swimming in water, running beside water. Looking at moving water, still water. Hearing water lapping against a shore, dripping out of the eaves, gushing from a sewer pipe.

april 29/RUN

2.3 miles
river road path, south/edmund, north
44 degrees/ 17 mph wind
Deaths from COVID-19: 319 (MN)/ 58,529 (US)

A difficult run this morning. Straight into the wind on the way back. About 5 minutes in, my knee hurt. Stopped for a few seconds, then started again. Mostly fine while I was running, but decided to not run too much. Not crowded on the path. It’s getting greener. Looked over at the Oak Savanna and the Winchell Trail. I don’t remember much from this run except for worrying about my knee or feeling the wind. The stretch of grass between Becketwood and 42nd was muddy and wet.

At the very beginning of my run, I heard the bird call that Scott and I have been curious about lately. I’d like to figure out which bird makes this sound and why. Found it!

Male Black-capped Chickadee

The song Scott and I have been hearing comes from the male black-capped chickadee. It’s also called the “fee bee” call or, when it has three notes, the “hey, sweetie” call. The song is used to attract mates or defend territory.

Some facts I’d like to remember from this brief video: 1. This song signals spring is coming and 2. Males use it in singing battles.

Of course, this mention of singing battles reminds me of one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver:

Invitation/ Mary Oliver

Oh do you have time
   to linger
      for just a while
         out of your busy

and important day
   for the goldfinches
      who have gathered
         in a field of thistles

for a musical battle
   to see who can sing
      the highest note
         or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth
   or the most tender?
      Their strong, blunt beaks
         drink the air

as they strive
   melodiously
      not for your sake
         and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
   but for sheer delight and gratitude-
      believe us, they say
         it is a serious thing

just to be alive
   on this fresh morning
      in the broken world.
         I beg of you,

do not walk by
   without pausing
      to attend to this
         rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
   It could mean everything.
      It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
         You must change your life.

My effort to notice and then figure out the bird song, reminds me of another poem that I encountered (and posted here a few years ago):

Bird Song/Rebecca Taksel

After all these years
I still don’t know the name
of the bird who has followed me
with his early-morning song
to all the places I’ve lived.

I’ve never asked
“Which bird is that, singing now?”
I remember hearing him first
on a spring morning in childhood
somewhere in the woods
behind our little house, his song clear
above the thousand little sounds
of grass and water and trees around us.

I’ve thought about the deaths I fear,
but only now do I know the death I want:
to let that song be the last thing I hear,
and not to mind at all that I never learned
the singer’s name.

I wonder, was she writing about the male black-capped chickadee?

Thinking about the purpose of the black capped chickadee’s call, I’m imagining more of the conversation:

I’m right/you’re wrong
Welcome/spring’s here
hello/goodbye
get lost/no way
Beatles/Elvis
gray duck/no, goose

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 27/RUN

4.1 miles
river road, north/seabury, south/river road, south/edmund, south
53 degrees
Deaths from COVID-19: 286 (MN)/ 55,118 (US)

What a morning! Rained early, then Sun! Birds! A slight breeze! Trees barely budding, glowing a yellowy green!

In the name of the Trees—
And the Woodpecker—
And the Breeze—Amen!
(variation on Emily Dickinson)

It’s easier to bury deep the panic and thoughts about getting very sick or someone I love getting very sick when the weather is like this and the trails aren’t too crowded and it’s not too hot or too cold and there aren’t swarming gnats yet.

My run felt good this morning. I remember looking down at the river, but I don’t remember what I saw—wait, how could I forget? It was gorgeous! Not sparkling or shining, but a mirror reflecting the fluffy clouds. I imagined that the water was another world, doubled and reversed, like in May Swenson’s great poem, “Water Picture“: “In the pond in the park/ all things are doubled:/ Long buildings hang and/ wriggle gently. Chimneys/ are bent legs bouncing/ on clouds below.” Love how “In the pond in the park” bounces on my tongue. I kept glancing over at the water and admiring its smooth beauty and how it looked like a mirror. I started thinking about the Greek myth (which I couldn’t really remember) about the hunter who looked at his reflection. I looked it up just now–of course it was Narcissus. Here’s an interesting article I found that discusses him and the idea of mirrors in water–it even has a picture of Salvadore Dali looking into the water.

At some point during my run, a biker biked by, their radio blasting “Everybody Talks.” (Had to look it up, it’s by Neon Trees.) I haven’t heard this song in a few years; it was on one of my running playlists for awhile. Mostly I listened to it while I ran around the track at the YWCA. Just looked and couldn’t find any mention of it in this log.

Reciting While Running: Dear One, Absent This Long While

Started reciting my poem for the week, Lisa Olstein’s Dear One Absent This Long While. Not too difficult to memorize, fun to say. I don’t remember much about the rhythms with my feet, but I do remember thinking more about the words. As I recited the line, “so even if spring continues to disappoint” I wondered, is it “spring” or “the spring”? I couldn’t remember and I tried to think about which fit better and whether or not a “the” was necessary. Also paused at the line, “She had the quiet ribs/ of a salamander crossing the old pony post road.” At first, I kept saying “has” but then I realized it made more sense to say “had.” Also, why is there a “the” in front of pony post road here, but not a “the” in front of spring? I find it helpful to think more about the choices poets make with their words. It’s fascinating and I think it can help me make a better poet who uses better words and words better–which is always my goal in writing.

I decided it would be fun to record myself reciting the poem right after finishing my run and then listening to it while looking at the poem–which words did I screw up, leave out, add? This experiment was fun, although I am still way too self-conscious speaking into my phone. I want to stop caring if people see me doing it and what they think about it. Here’s the recording:

Dear One Absent This Long While, recorded 4/27

I’d like to try recording myself saying it again tomorrow after my run. Maybe by the end of the week I won’t feel weird doing it.

In addition to reciting this new poem, I also revisited Emily Dickinson’s “It’s all I have to bring today” and the second line. I tried running with the different rhythms that I figured out in yesterday’s log. “This, and my heart beside” I was struck by how the different rhythms also changed the emphasis. In the original, Dickinson is emphasizing, “This.” Some of my rhythms, like the triplet for “this and my”, put the emphasis on heart. It’s cool how much of a difference changing the rhythm can make on the meaning–not a deep insight, but it’s fun to find ways to actually understand poetry, especially those parts of it that seem so hard for me to get.

What else happened on my run?

  • Saw someone walking down the old stone steps
  • Later, saw a dog and its human crossing the path to also walk down the old stone steps
  • Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker with a “Hi Dave” and a wave and, “Beautiful morning!”
  • Greeted another biker on Seabury
  • Noticed the trestle as I ran by it
  • Inspected the progress of the leaves below the tunnel of trees in the floodplain forest. The green veil is coming–too soon!
  • A few rocks were stacked on the ancient boulder at the top of the path, near the sprawling oak and at the entrance to the tunnel of trees

Greeting the Welcoming Oaks

note: I’m adding this in later, but I had forgotten about it.

About 5 minutes into my run, as I passed near the overlook and through the Welcoming Oaks, I greeted every one of them. I didn’t count, but I’m guessing it was about 10 trees? “Good morning!” “Hello friend!” “Hello!” “Hi!”

april 26/RUN

3.75 miles
47th ave loop, shorter
50 degrees
Deaths from COVID-19: 272 (MN)/ 54,001 (US)

I wore shorts this morning on my run. Shorts! Very exciting. Ran south on the trail, right above the river. It had a dull, un-sparkly surface but it was still beautiful. Soft, subdued. So many birds chattering away. A few runners and walkers and bikers. I had to weave around the path several times, from one end–on the edge of the bluff, above the water–to the other–across the walking and biking paths and the road, over to the grass between the parkway and the boulevard– but it didn’t bother me. As long as I can run and keep my distance, I’m fine.

Recited Emily Dickinson’s poem again, “it’s all I have to bring today.” Played around with the rhythm in the second line: “This, and my heart beside—” So awkward when running. (note: I can’t actually remember what beats I did with this line while running, so I’m experimenting after the fact. Now, I want to try running with each of these. Which works best?)

This and my heart beside/ 123 4 5 6/ ♪♪♪ ♩ ♩ ♩
This and my heart beside/ 123 4 56 7/ ♪♪♪ ♩ ♫ rest

This and my heart beside/ 12 34 5 6/ ♫ ♫ ♩ ♩

This and my heart/ 1 2 3 4/ ♩ ♩ ♩ ♩
beside/ 1 2 3 4/ ♩ ♩ rest rest

I’m really fascinated by these rhythms and what they do to the word beside, particularly what gets stressed. BEside or beSIDE or BESIDE. Trochee or Iamb or Spondee (I think that’s right. I’m trying to learn and then remember these terms. Maybe one day they will be second-nature to me?)

The other day, I read a beautiful thread about the poet Ted Kooser. I liked the poems that were mentioned in the thread, but decided to read some more of his work online. Because I find soaring turkey vultures to be beautiful, I was drawn to this poem:

TURKEY VULTURES/ Ted Kooser

Circling above us, their wingtips fanned
like fingers, it is as if they were smoothing

one of those tissue-paper sewing patterns
over the pale blue fabric of the air,

touching the heavens with leisurely pleasure,
just a word or two called back and forth,

taking all the time in the world, even though
the sun is low and red in the west, and they

have fallen behind with the making of shrouds.

I have decided that I really like the couplet form–with its simple grace and interesting line breaks adding more meaning and movement.

april 25/WALK

walk: 4.75 miles
extended 47th ave loop
65 degrees
Deaths from COVID-19: 244 (MN)/ 53,070 (US)

Woke up feeling sore all over. I think it’s from the hours I’ve spent trying to scrape the paint off the deck railing. Decided to take a long walk with Scott and Delia the dog instead of running. Amazing spring weather. Bright, warm sun. Hardly any wind. Calm, gentle air. Lots of people walking, biking, and running out by the gorge this morning. Didn’t see any wild turkeys but did see a tiny baby rabbit. I said to Scott, “that’s the only time I think rabbits are cute.” I really don’t like rabbits. Also saw this super cool sculpture in someone’s front yard:

photo by room34

I want a front yard like this! No grass and an awesome sculpture. It’s fun walking by the gorge and then winding through longfellow neighborhood. People are delightfully quirky around here. Anything else? We talked about if the virus will ebb some in the summer and how terrible it must be for some kids now that they are closing down all the playgrounds and skate parks and removing the nets from basketball hoops and tennis courts. How will some kids entertain themselves? So tough.

When we got home, I sat on our warm deck in full sun and felt nostalgic for past springs and summers as a kid, when I would soak in the sun, still able to enjoy feeling hot because it was novel. Then I composed another version of Emily Dickinson’s “It’s all I have to bring today”:

It’s all I have to bring today—
This, and my knee, beside—
This, my knee, and all the gorge
And all the river wide—
Be sure to count—should I forget
Some one the Sum could tell—
This, and my knee, and every Tree
Bare-branched without its Veil—

I think I like this version better than my last.

After composing this poem and reciting it to my wonderful daughter who was willing to listen, I sat in my chair and heard the birds. I didn’t actually have a choice, they were insistent that I eavesdrop on their conversation. Repeating it over and over and over again. Of course, when I finally decided to record them, they weren’t as chatty. Still, I did manage to record a few lines. 2 syllables each. One bird started low, then went higher. The other responded higher, then went lower. I imagined them to be singing: “Up high/ Down low” What else could they be saying?

2 birds chatting

Subway/Eat fresh
Be nice/Fuck you
Hey there!/What’s up?
Mustard/Ketchup
Doughnut/Ice cream
Mad Men/Ozark
Mustache/Goatee
Pizza/Nachos
Dumb luck/Hard work
Winter/Summer

april 24/RUN

3.75 miles
47th ave loop
47 degrees
Deaths from COVID-19: 221 (MN)/ 50,031 (US)

Wow, what a glorious morning! Soft light, hardly any wind, singing birds, uncrowded paths. Everything felt calm, relaxed. I don’t remember looking at the river that often, but I do remember the sky over the gorge and the view on the bluff near Folwell. Beautiful.

Anything else I remember from my run? I’ve noticed–today and yesterday, at least–that the morning sun makes it hard for me to see people sometimes. It also makes it almost impossible for me to determine if people are coming towards me or are moving away from me–is that the cone dystrophy or my near-sightedness? Not sure.

I recited Emily Dickinson’s “It’s all I have to bring today” again and I’m liking it more. The second line with the anapest–“This, and my heart beside”–is still awkward, but I like running to “this, my heart, and all the fields/and all the meadows wide” and “this, and my heart, and all the bees, which in the clover dwell.”

When I got back from my run, I started thinking about changing the words of Dickinson’s poem to fit with my run:

It’s all I have to bring today—
This, and my knee beside—
This, my knee and all the trees—
And all the river wide
Be sure to count — should I forget
Some one the sum could tell —
This, and my knee, and all the Birds
whose songs can cast a Spell.

Not totally happy with my words, but I’ll work on it some more. I struggle to understand “some one the sum could tell.” It mostly makes sense, but it still trips me up.

more wild turkey sightings!

Yesterday on our walk, near the tree graveyard, we saw 2 more wild turkeys! Scott took some video and posted it on instagram:

Finally, looking back through my log posts from 2018, I found this beautiful poem. It will be the next one that I memorize. So many lines I am looking forward to learning and keeping.

Dear One Absent This Long While/ Lisa Olstein 

It has been so wet stones glaze in moss;
everything blooms coldly.

I expect you. I thought one night it was you
at the base of the drive, you at the foot of the stairs,

you in a shiver of light, but each time
leaves in wind revealed themselves,

the retreating shadow of a fox, daybreak.
We expect you, cat and I, bluebirds and I, the stove.

In May we dreamed of wreaths burning on bonfires
over which young men and women leapt.

June efforts quietly.
I’ve planted vegetables along each garden wall

so even if spring continues to disappoint
we can say at least the lettuce loved the rain.

I have new gloves and a new hoe.
I practice eulogies. He was a hawk

with white feathered legs. She had the quiet ribs
of a salamander crossing the old pony post road.

Yours is the name the leaves chatter
at the edge of the unrabbited woods.