The tunnel of trees was dark and damp and green. I bet the parks department will be coming soon to trim back the vines.
no view in july
Pretty sure I didn’t even get a glimpse of the river. Too busy avoiding rain soaked branching blocking the path.
Hot and humid and sticky and soaking.
this is just to say
From the mind of someone who once thought in verse, this is the kind of poem that just comes to you when it comes. You write it down, walk away, and there it is. You don’t force it into a form. You just want it to sound pleasing to the ear and be what it was meant to be: an honest response to a moment in time. What I’m trying to say is who cares about what this poem really means. It means whatever you want or need it to. Whatever you feel upon reading it is accurate. Stop thinking. Just eat the plums while they’re still in season.
I love this idea of resisting analysis while still deeply (critically and creatively) engaging with the poems. So delightfully undisciplined!
Thing I remember most was the weird water and how it was cold then warm then cold again. Quick flashes of freezing water combined with luke warm bath water. I’ve experienced this before but never to this extreme. I think I preferred the cold water. I don’t mind swimming in cold water. I’d like to work on descriptions of this phenomenon. Maybe a whole poem?
Almost forgot about the water temperature. So strange: pockets of freezing cold water mixed with warmer water. The water was extra cold just off the little beach. I like swimming through this really cold water–a sudden surprise, very brief, then warmish water again. The water is 80 degrees, which is more than warm enough for me. I still hear people complaining about how cold it is. I can’t help myself from thinking, wimps!
my chaotic cones
if I am focusing on one object, other objects disappear. It’s not just that I’m not paying attention to them so they seem like they’re not there. It’s that they literally aren’t there in my messed up vision with my chaotic cones and confused brain. I need to remember this and try to compensate for it, but it’s hard.
on not shifting gears
even though I have 12 or 15 gears or something like that on my road bike, I did not shift gears once. Not even when we were climbing the super steep, never-ending hill on Montreal. I guess I should, but it’s just easier to stay in the same gear and I don’t really care. I’m just happy that my vision is good enough that I can still bike.
I am still not changing gears, even on the big hills. Why not? Not sure, but it seems to be working.
top humidity: 89%
top dew point: 74
return of the rollerbladers!
Was passed by three rollerbladers and their coach biking behind them. In formation, arms swinging in unison
learning to swim blind
The first loop was a real challenge. My googles were fogged up and I absolutely couldn’t see any of the buoys. Not even a quick glance. Was it because the sun was gone and it was gray? Not sure, but I decided that I had to swim another loop to push through. The sun came out and suddenly I could see the buoys. Not all the time but enough of a glimpse to keep me on track.
Oh, how different the tunnel of trees looks when it’s overcast!
Darker and deeper. When it’s sunny, the light filters through the leaves and dances on the asphalt. But when it’s cloudy the greens are heavier and the air seems weighed down with water.
when was the last time you were in wonderment?
I think there’s almost like a responsibility in some ways when the world and the news is so disgusting and so heartbreaking. I think that’s all the more reason to turn to—I ask my students, when is the last time you were in wonderment of something, when was the last time you had awe over something….I think it’s a practice. I think we forget how to be in wonderment. And I think it’s a great, I don’t know, responsibility. But also, it’s contagious. When you hear someone say, oh my gosh, I love how the silver on a silver oak is winking at me, that kind of thing, it’s hard to not notice something yourself. And then someone else will notice something and someone else will notice something (Aimee Nezhukumatathil).
Mostly breathed every six to my right, but switched it up a little with some 5s on right and left. I need to write some more poetry inspired by these breathing patterns.
missing rocks on the cairn
Noticed that the 4 rocks usually stacked on top of the big boulder at the top of the tunnel of trees weren’t there. I think I’ve seen them missing another time too. Will someone stack some more before I run by the boulder again? And, if so, who?
the openness of it all
Walking down through the tunnel, I noticed the few times the sun filtered through and the gentle noise of cars and bikes whooshing above. Also, payed attention to the spot, right before the bottom and the 4 fences, when the path seems to float above the forest and where the trees open up into a wide, airy amphitheater-like space. Too layered with leaves to see sky. Up above is green, down below is too. Running by this spot, I feel like I’m flying or floating in green. Walking, I’m slow enough to notice the layers of green and brown, the lack of blue and the openness of it all.
open wide capacious generous airy light feathery layers disorienting unsettling unmooring loosened accessible exposed unencumbered not encased
amphitheater or air? cathedral? atrium? not grand, just roomier, unexpected
a break, a breather, a pause midway, mid-story, middle, in-between, floating, untethered
in the thickest days
inspiration is shortened, hard to breathe in deeply. Deepest breaths happen in late fall, thinning leaves…under too much green to to be breathless, under green water, an unwanted abundance, excessive, almost obscene in the amount of green, choking, constricting, concealing, consuming, cramping, confining, closed, tight, cramped
working on my haibuns: what’s the story here?
The rough water gently rocked me. Sometimes the waves were off to one side, sometimes it was like swimming into a wall. At one point, near one of the buoys, I felt like I was swimming in one of those forever pools where you swim in place–is that what they’re called?
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.
inspired by Walt Whitman and his exclamation points in open road, 3
Such unbridled enthusiasm! Oh, to be willing to embrace joy like Whitman! To be unashamed to relentlessly use exclamation points! I think I’d like to use his form here and write a poem to the gorge.
sidewalk: smooth and cracked, partly covered with dead leaves, weeds, berries, containing seams between slabs, sloping down to the street
street: rough, hard, uneven, freckled with manhole covers
grass: soft, thick, concealing uneven ground
paved path: asphalt, mostly smooth and wide, separated from the road and the bike path, hiding a big dip between the 36th street parking lot and 38th street, hard to see until you remember it’s there
stone steps: awkwardly spaced, avoided if possible
dirt: soft, packed, soothing, slippery oozing squishy after rain, riddled with rubble, pockmarked with past pavement–abandoned, recycled by the gorge, angled leaning to the right, dropping off steeply
more paved path: half rotting leaves, hardly ever flat, up up up then down down up down up down up then over the small bridge with the tiny cave that Rosie and I walked by years ago and imagined was a troll cave where they fed you sprinkled donuts and gave you a bright yellow raft to float down the ravine to the river
more dirt: mostly dry under the canopy, held in place by thigh high retaining walls that double as obstacle courses for daring dogs who delight in appearing taller, flanked by black wrought iron and chainlink fences with tree trunks for posts, slowly sloping down to the savana where wildflowers stretch as high as my shoulders and (almost) smother the narrow trail
more stone steps, a slick iron grate, gravel, dirt, grass, then paved path again
air and water
I like the connections drawn between air and water here. I often think about that while I’m swimming, imagining worlds reversed, where the air is water, water air. Writing this, I’m wondering: how much oxygen is in the lake? I looked it up and found an article about dissolved oxygen and how fish need it for breathing. Air typically has an oxygen concentration of around 21%, while water has less than 1%.
at one spot in the tunnel of trees my view filled with a green canopy except for at the very top. I could see a thin line of sky. It looked like air at the surface with me under green water.
Cliffhanger: a fallen tree leans across the path, near the steps up to 38th street, held up by the trunk of another tree. Will it fall soon and hit someone walking under? Will the parks department remove it? Will it stay here all summer?
Cliffhanger update: the leaning tree trunk near the 38th street steps seems to be leaning more. I almost had to duck as I ran under it. Is it lower, or am I just forgetting how lean-y it already was? Will it lean even more or fall or be removed soon?
Cliffhanger: There’s a short stretch of trail, right before and after 28th, that’s “officially” closed for construction. Even though signs are blocking the trail, you can still get by them and the trail/road are still bike-able. When will they start construction? How many more times can I bike on this part of the trail? Will it take the rest of the summer? What path/trail/road/sidewalk will I bike on instead?
On the way to the lake muttered “jerk” under my breath at one idiot driver. On the way back muttered to another clueless driver, “ass.”
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.
brains are fascinating
has my brain just memorized the path? I’ve biked it 100s of times and have carefully noticed all the curves and curbs and craters. At the last scan of my central vision, it was almost gone. How can I see anything? Brains are fascinating.
water was too warm, almost like bath water. At times it felt heavy and slow, like swimming in place or through simple syrup. Other times, it felt fast and smooth.
tour de france
Speaking of climbing, thought about today’s stage of le tour de france and the brutal final climb while Scott and I biked. Those bikers are such bad asses.
the tour de france is almost over. time to write again! (july 29)
I got so mad at the two walkers that were hogging the entire path, cluelessly spreading out over the entire thing instead of sticking to one side.
Encountered some walkers who had no idea I was there. When I called out, “excuse me,” one of them dramatically flinched. Never know how to handle these situations. Sometimes I find it funny, their frantic gestures. Other times, it’s annoying that they’re blocking the whole path and I can’t get past them without startling them.
no room for rumination
ran by the part of the tunnel of trees that I’m writing about. I’ve been thinking about it as a wide open, spacious room, but it’s more of just a break in the trees. A pause. I recorded some thoughts into my phone when I was done:
Only, just a brief pause. No room for rumination. Only breathing and being before the leaves lock? the leaves thatch? the leaves lattice? the vines envelop the forest again.
the dirt path at the beginning of the lower trail is more old asphalt than I realized. How long ago did they stop paving this trail?
the little old lady
The women speaking was calling out, “we’re not the problem, we’re the solution!” What is she referring to? Who is the we? What is the problem and what is the solution?
What joy to still be able to see enough to swim and bike!
torchlight 5k race memories
What do I remember from the race? Very positive energy. Happy, joyful people. A better than average version of the National Anthem. A car trapped on the bike path because the road was jammed with runners. The woman driving calling out to her friends in frustration, “I just want to get out of here!” A woman wheezing than giving herself a pep talk. An annoying boyfriend calling out to his girlfriend, “You can do this! Only 2 minutes left. This is what all your training was for. How many people can you pass?” This was annoying because we had a lot less than 2 minute left and him saying that made me feel like we would never finish. Very demoralizing. I’m pretty sure his girlfriend was irritated too. I didn’t see her pass anyone. After the race, walking on the gravel trail through Boom Island, 3 runners passing us with such positive energy, so happy to be running on this trail.
We took the train downtown today, which was fun and much less stressful than driving. What do I remember from the train? Crowded heading downtown; Twins game tonight. A fantasy-fiction loving teenage girl trying to convince her mom to read more fantasy fiction. Her mom, calmly and repeatedly saying, “I’m more into real life.” The girl, relentlessly retorting, “Fantasy fiction is sooo much better than real life. You can learn a lot from the wise old wizards!” Okay, this isn’t exactly what she said, but close enough. On the way home, 2 pissed off Twins’ fans, complaining about the game and how slow it was going–over 2 hours in and only the bottom of the 4th! Dropping lots of f-bombs.
a silver lining
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!
the dreaded mom head shake!
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?
a wetsuit rebellion
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.
from Roger Deakins, Waterlog
…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.
In water, all possibilities seemed infinitely extended. Free of the tyranny of gravity and the weight of atmosphere…
how to be when you cannot see
Interested in a project that’s grounded in my experiences as I lose my vision, but also in the larger questions concerning the primacy of vision/fast focusing/increased speed and intensity.
It’s not that I can’t see, it’s that I see strangely. Review empiricism, bent oar, not trusting senses. Is what I’m seeing part truth/part fabrication?
reading: Eat this Poem
sluggish, thick: an egg shell suspended in egg white, stuck
birds gossip, bees drone, leaves do jazz hands
- write a poem in syntactically independent couplets, making meaning through accretion/juxtaposing of couplets
- gather 10-15 poems I’ve posted, pick one phrase from each and then turn it into a poem
- start planning the map pamphlet, start small
breathing stroke rhythms
1 2 3 4 5/ 1 2 3 4 5 6/ 1 2 3/ 1 2 3 4 5
Not slow but steady
rhythmically slicing through
the blue brown
water in the lake
Something cold then warm
cold again thick then thing
Learning to be blind–
or not blind, low vision–
In water senses
are strange perception off
are jumbled broken
The source of sound is
everywhere then nowhere
close then far
sharp loud muffled soft
Sound waves actually travel 5xs faster in water tan in air. They go straight to the skull bones, vibrating that heavy bone you can touch just behind your ear. Because of that, you can hear higher frequencies underwater (theswimguide.org)
from the book, The Friend
I’m not saying this is what she said, I’m saying this is what I heard.