june 20/RUNSWIM

4.1 miles
minnehaha falls
65 degrees

Overcast this morning. Cool, but humid, sticky. Another run that wasn’t easy or effortless. Keep showing up. It will get easier or you’ll get better or it will (eventually) get cooler. I’m not too worried. Is it the lexapro, or am I just satisfied being able to get outside and move by the gorge?

10 Things

  1. the crater with the tube sock/Florida outline is gone, filled in yesterday
  2. a gnat flew in my eye — a fullness, than a small sharpness, then a watery eye, finally gone!
  3. a motorized scooter on the bike path — hey, you’re supposed to be on the road! (thought, not said)
  4. today’s color palette; green and gray
  5. dark mud, not gooey but slick
  6. laughing kids on a playground
  7. the surreys, all lined up at the falls, one being readied for a family as I ran by
  8. rushing falls, roaring creek, gushing sewer pipe near 42nd
  9. some loud rustling in the bushes
  10. passing a walker, a whiff of subdued perfume — fresh, floral / passing a biker, a sniff of cologne — fresh, earthy

At some point, looking up at the green trees, remembering green water, I thought about Alice Oswald and the connection between water and grief. Then I recalled Tony Hoagland’s poem about swimming and cancer and thought about water and relief.

a few hours later: It’s raining — a soft, light rain — right now (2:30 pm). I’m hoping that open swim will still happen at 5:30. Tomorrow it probably won’t: thunderstorms all day. Anyway, I’m continuing to listen to and think about Alice Oswald’s “Interview with Water.” Very cool! Here’s the next little bit:

Find yourself in the silence underneath an overhanging wave that or thereabouts is the color of a bluish violet ultramarine gown so the great poet sang, “But Odysseus taking his bluish gown in his big hands drew it over his head and hid his face ashamed to let the Phaeacians see his tears.” The gown goes over the head like a wave, the human sits under its sea color with salt water pouring from his eyes. It is one of those places where the form of the poem hurries us forward, the form of the language pulls us back. Porfurion is a word with water inside it like a bucket down in the middle of a line. Already if you look hard at the word you can see the widow’s simile underneath it but Homer is not yet ready to make that gift. With magnificent theatricality, he draws a blue gown across the mind and we, like the Phaeacians, are left looking at it, waiting.

Homer is the foremost poet of the visible. Homer delights in surfaces, but the surface of water is complicated by transparency, and its transparency is complicated by refraction. Water is never the same as itself. Rivers can only exist as similarities, lakes reflect more than their own volume, and what’s more, when you look at water, it allows you to exist twice but more darkly. When you look at it again it evaporates as if moving in and out of existence — it simply requires a bit of sunlight then it reappears as frost. Perfectly symmetrical as if discovering pre-drawn diagrams in thin air. Then it reappears as tears so that any attempt to describe the surface of water tells you to hide your face and inspect your innermost thoughts. All these waverings are part of the word porfurion. The physics or nature of water is metaphysical meaning that its surface expresses more than itself.

Interview with Water

All of AO’s mention of surfaces makes me want to think about surfaces during my swim. I swim on the surface, wanting to stay with my head just below as long as possible. What does the surface look like or feel like when I’m breathing every five (or more) strokes? What if I tried every 2 or 3? What is the color of the surface — from above or below?

swim: 2 loops
lake nokomis open swim
68 degrees

Wow, what a perfect swimming night! The water was warmer than the air temperature. The sky was white and heavy. Everything calm, quiet. I felt fast and strong cutting through the water, breathing every 5 strokes with the occasional 3, at least once, after 2. I tried to give attention to the surface. Just under the water, I watched my hands stretch out in front of me, covered in bubbles. The water was a beautiful deep (but not dark) green, with the feeling of deep blue and gray. I could see the sediment swirling. Above the water, the surface was silver, still.


june 19/RUNSWIM

2.5 miles
2 trails
64 degrees

A quick run before meeting my college friends for lunch. Cooler today. Heard the rowers. Spotted: at least 2 bright yellow shirts, one bright pink. City (or county or park?) workers were out re-tarring a few more spots on the trail. Hooray for less craters! Last week, they finally filled in the big crack that had white spray-paint around it, making it look like a tube sock or Florida (I’ve written about it before). I wonder if they’ll finally fill in the hole that’s been getting deeper every year? The one that would definitely twist your ankle if you stepped in it. I hope so.

I don’t remember hearing any birds or roller skiers or laughing kids, but I do remember the squishy mud on the winchell trail and the bug bite I got as I walked home.

color in/on/under water

Listening to Alice Oswald’s lecture, Interview with Water, I came across this great passage about color. First she’s mentions that poets performing The Odyssey always wore blue robes, then she mentions a line from book 8:

Odysseus
with his strong hands picked up his heavy cloak
of purple, and he covered up his face.
He was ashamed to let them see him cry.
Each time the singer paused, Odysseus
wiped tears, drew down the cloak (8:84-89)

Then she references something she said a few minutes earlier —

I keep a bucket of rainwater under my window and it delights me that green leaves reflected in a black bucket are not quite green. I don’t know what color they are. At certain moments, early in the day, they might be called pre-green, but then the clouds change or the wind moves the surface mark and all at once they seem bright dark and blind silvery then foggy emerald.

— and says this:

To go back to that bucket of water — to wave a blue gown above it and ask, What is that color which Homer calls porfurium? It is not blue exactly; it gets translated as purple but purple is a settled color whereas Homer’s word is agitated. It derives from the sea verb porfurion which means to roll without breaking, so it is already a fluid word, a heaped up word, a word with underswell, not a pigment but an emanation from the nature of water. To get a true sense of porphyrion you need to see the sea in it and for Homer the sea is unhuman full of strange creatures missed colored unplowable and this is my favorite word it is a peritone meaning unfenced. If you want to imagine the colour of Odysseus’ gown you will have to swim out into the unfenced place, the place not of definitions but of affirmations. Yes I’m afraid you will have to find your way to the p volume of Johnson’s unwritten dictionary. There you will discover a dark light word an adjective for edgelessness — a sea word used also of death smoke cloth mist blood between bluish purple and cobalt mauve. It appears mid-ocean when the wind perhaps makes a network of backblowing glitters that the underswell moves sideways as when a big sea swells with noiseless waves. It is used of the heart meaning his heart was a heaving not quite broken wave. It indicates a surface but suggests a depth a mutation of flatness or noiseless sheen, a sea creature, a quality of caves, any inlet or iodine or shaded stone, a type of algae or rockfish, anything excessive or out of focus or subliminal — for example: a swimmer seen from underneath, a rotting smell, a list of low sounds, an evening shadow or sea god, a whole catalogue of simmering grudges storms waves and solitudes or deep water including everyone who has drowned in it. To be purpled is to lose one’s way or name, to be nothing, to grieve without surfacing, to suffer the effects of sea light. to be either sleepless or weightless and cut off by dreams — find yourself in the silence underneath an overhanging way that or thereabouts is the color of a bluish violet ultramarine gown so the great poet sang.

Interview with Water

Wow! So many wonderful things to do with this passage! For now, I want to think about how color works underwater. In an hour, I’m heading over to deep (at least, deeper than Lake Nokomis) Cedar Lake to swim across it. How will color work as I swim? Below water? Above? Is this agitated, moving purple similar to how I see all the time? (Yes, I think.)

swim: 4 cedar loops (= 2 nokomis loops)
cedar lake
72 degrees

The first swim at Cedar Lake! As I’ve mentioned here before, Cedar has a very different vibe than Nokomis. Hidden away, at the end of a gravel road. A small beach. No buildings, the only bathroom a port-a-potty. Chill lifeguards. Today the water was cold but (mostly) calm. Not too many swimmers. 2 lifeguards on kayaks, 2 orange buoys, too much vegetation growing up from the bottom of the lake. I overheard another swimmer mentioning the vines too.

color: Inspired by Alice Oswald, I tried to think about the color of the water. Cloudy, not clear. I could see the vines and the bubbles from my breathing and my hands entering the water but not much else. Not purple or blue but green — not dark green but pale green. Maybe some pale blue — yes — and light gray. Occasionally a shaft of light from above, a dark vine below. Textured bubbles. Not much to see, but not nothing there. Instead, everything small, packed, too dense to decipher. No color and too many colors. Impossible to pin down with “green” or “gray” or “blue.” Not grief, but uncertainty.

june 11/RUN

4.5 miles
veterans home and back
56 degrees

Still struggling with endurance, still showing up. How much of this is mental, how much physical? The million dollar question, as my dad used to say. I think it’s both, but probably more mental. Maybe the lexapro is already kicking in, but my struggles aren’t bothering me. After the run I thought, these struggles will make showing up at the marathon start line, then finishing 4-5 hours later, much more meaningful.

It rained this morning, so everything was wet, even the air. Everything was also green. Green green green. Any other colors? Nope, not much to break up the green. Green green green green green.

10 Things

  1. lush green, dark, on the part of the path that goes below the road
  2. puddles
  3. a woman ahead of me, running, wearing only one compression sleeve on her right calf
  4. a group of kids walking to the playground at minnehaha
  5. a much bigger group of kids walking near 42nd — a long line, 3 across, took me 10 or 15 or more? seconds to pass them
  6. gushing water near the ravine by the oak savanna
  7. the bright yellow crosswalk sign — my bee — was muted in the gray sky
  8. crossing the bridge high above the creek, all green, no view of the water below
  9. lush green, dark, on the steep hill descending to the locks and dam no 1
  10. a pile of e-bikes parked near a bench — black with blue accents

paean to place/ lorine niedecker

Before my run, I started writing out, by hand, Niedecker’s poem. It’s so long! My hand started cramping up. I had to write slowly to account for my visual errors, like not seeing the words I’ve already written and writing words almost over them or above them instead of below them. The slow work is good, giving me time with each word and line.

Here’s one line I’d like to make note of:

Not hearing sora
rails’s sweet

spoon-tapped waterglass-
descending scale-
tear-drop-tittle

I wondered, what does a sora sound like, so I looked it up and listened. Yes, it sounds like LN described! Listen here to calls 1 and 2.

june 10/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls
60 degrees

Ah, summer mornings! Beautiful. Cooler. If I would have slept better, I would have tried to go out even earlier. The first half of the run felt good, then I got hot and it got harder. Today I didn’t worry about what that meant for my training. Instead, I enjoyed the brief minutes of walking, taking in the trees at the falls — so green! so full!

10 Things

  1. the falls, flowing, white, undulating — the water not falling straight, but almost falling over itself — was it hitting some limestone on the way down?
  2. a bundle of something on the ground next to the dirt trail — a hammock?
  3. 2 women with tall hiking packs on their backs walking on the paved path
  4. some animal — a turkey? — upset, calling out, a human voice saying something — hey?
  5. a flash below the double bridge — a sliver of creek almost covered by green
  6. 2 roller skiers near locks and dam no 1
  7. the dirt trail cutting through the small wood near ford bridge looking cool and inviting
  8. happy kids on the minnehaha park playground — happy: green voices, where green = young, outside, tender
  9. (walking back, about to cross 46th ave at 37th street) 2 older women chatting, then greeting me, oh! hello!
  10. (walking back almost to my alley) heard on a radio or from a phone or a computer in neighbor’s backyard, the next one is Scandia — was this talk radio or a zoom meeting or what?

Lorine Niedecker and “Paean to Place”

to dwell with a place:

What is required, however, is sensual, embodied experience—close encounters of awe, wonder, fright, disgust, or even tedium—which remind us both of the real earth with which we dwell, and that we share our home with innumerable cohabitants.

Dwelling with Place: Lorine Niedecker’s Ecopoetics

opening to “Paean to Place”:

Fish
fowl
flood
Water lily mud
My life

in the leaves and on water
My mother and I
born
in swale and swamp and sworn
to water

My father
thru marsh fog
sculled down
from high ground
saw her face

at the organ
bore the weight of lake water
and the cold—
he seined for carp to be sold
that their daughter

might go high
on land
to learn

Wow! Reading this opening, I’m thinking about the Objectivists and the Imagists and Ezra Pound’s 3 rules for writing poetry:

  1. Direct treatment of the “thing,” whether subjective or objective
  2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation
  3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome

What condensery and music in these lines! And what wonderfully effective descriptions of two people dwelling in and with a particular place, especially her mother, born in swale and swamp and bearing the weight of lake water and the cold.

definition of ecopoetics:

The word itself is an amalgam of two Greek words: oikos [household or family] and poïesis [making, creating, or producing], so that ecopoeticsquite literally means the creation of a dwelling place, or home-making. The term came into special prominence after the influential British literary critic Jonathan Bate published The Song of the Earth in 2000. There, Bate defined ecopoetics as a critical practice in which the central tasks are to ask “in what respects a poem may be a making … of the dwelling-place” and to “think about what it might mean to dwell upon the earth.”

Dwelling with Place: Lorine Niedecker’s Ecopoetics

LN’s opening lines and her descriptions of her parents, reminds me of Mary Oliver’s The Leaf and the Cloud and her brief mentions of her parents in the first section, “Flare.” LN and MO have different experiences but they rhyme, somehow, or echo?

My mother
was the blue wisteria,
my mother
was the mossy stream out behind the house,
my mother, alas, alas,
did not always love her life,
heavier than iron it was
as she carried it in her arms, from room to room,
oh, unforgettable!

Like LN, MO was also an amazing poet of place, but she doesn’t extend her ideas of place to her parents — a deliberate severing:

I mention them now,
I will not mention them again.

It is not lack of love
nor lack of sorrow.
But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.

So much to say about that iron, but I have run out of time right now. Perhaps more later. . .

I’m back. First, the not carrying the iron makes me think of my mom and her desire for displacement from her abusive parents. More than once she said to me that she wanted to break that cycle of abuse — and she did. And I am grateful. But there’s something to explore here for me and my relationship to place, this place 4 miles from where my mom was born and raised, that I can’t quite get at yet.

The iron also reminds me of the wonderful lines from the opening of LN’s “Lake Superior”:

In every part of every living thing
is stuff that once was rock

In blood the minerals
of the rock

*

Iron the common element of earth

Both MO and LN write about their fathers. First, MO:

My father
was a demon of frustrated dreams,
was a breaker of trusts,
was a poor, thin boy with bad luck.
He followed God, there being no one else
he could talk to;
he swaggered before God, there being no one else
who would listen.

and LN:

He could not
—like water bugs—
stride surface tension
He netted
loneliness. . .

. . . Anchored here
in the rise and sink
of life—
middle years’ nights
he sat

beside his shoes
rocking his chair
Roped not “looped
in the loop
of her hair”

The “looped” quote comes from William Butler Yeats and his poem, Brown Penny and it’s about love. I like how she throws in this line from poets or about poets, like this:

Grew riding the river
Books
at home-pier
Shelly would steer
as he read

I noticed another line of the poem in quotes, “We live by the urgent wave/of the verse.” Looked it up and found an article about “Paean to Place” and thanks to my college-attending son, I have access to it! Time to read it: Lorine Niedecker’s “Paean to Place” and its Fusion Poetics


june 9/RUN

3.7 miles
trestle turn around
65 degrees

Warm and windy. Lots of sweat. Another day of telling myself to keep showing up. A hard run with lots of walking. But, one faster, freer mile, and some scattered thoughts that might lead to something! I’ll take it.

11 Things

  1. under the lake street bridge, the side of the road was packed with parked cars — rowers?!
  2. yes, rowers: heard the coxswain calling out instructions
  3. briefly watched the rowers through a gap in the trestle: a head, an oar, a boat gliding by
  4. ran into a branch while avoiding another runner, just a few inches from my eye, imagined a scenario in my head where the branch had cut my eye
  5. in the tunnel of threes: a sea of swaying green
  6. a woman stretching in the 35th street parking lot, blasting music out of her phone
  7. wind pushing me from behind, making my ponytail swing to one side
  8. a cartoonish figure spray-painted on the sidewalk: bright orange outline
  9. loud rustling in the nearby brush then a hiker emerging from below
  10. whoooosssshhh — the wind rushing through the trees
  11. dragonflies? running near the trestle, an insect with a long, narrow body and wings almost flew into my mouth — no iridescent color, no color. Later, pausing at the top of the steps, I saw half a dozen of them. They opened and closed their wings in the sun

Yesterday, I decided that the theme of color or green wasn’t working for me this month. Instead, I’d like to return (again) to Lorine Niedecker. I’m particularly interested in her form of condensing and how I might apply it to my Haunts poems. Yes, the haunts poems are haunting me again. Before heading out for my run, I found a few lines from LN’s “Paean to Place,” that I especially like:

 grew in green
slide and slant
of shore and shade

            Child-time—wade
thru weeds

Maples to swing from
Pewee-glissando

      sublime
 slime-
song

A few times, I recited the first big: I grew in green/slide and slant/of shore and shade. As I thought about those lines I wondered what I grew up in. Green, for sure, but not by water. Then it came to me: I grew up on the edge of green in subdivisions that butted up against farms and woods, creeping, consuming those green spaces. I also grew up in carefully managed and cultivated green — bike paths through small stretches of trees offering the illusion of nature, privately owned by the subdivision. A very different green than the rural green of my dad’s farm in the UP or the urban green of my mom here by the Mississippi River. I thought about the managed green I run by and the difference between it, a public, national park, and the managed green of my suburban childhood, with its private green parks and private (No Trespassing!) acres of farm land, soon to be sold and converted into more “little boxes.”

Yes! The green I grew in was in-between col-de-sacs, and within small ravines and the slight stretches of trees or creeks developers left for aesthetic reasons. This green has deeply influenced my understanding of the wild and “green” spaces and is one reason why I’m fascinated by the management of nature.

june 7/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
62 degrees

Another beautiful morning. Felt drained by the sun, but still managed to push through a few moments when I wanted to stop. Walked a little. My mantra: keep showing up. It might not get easier but I’ll get better at handling it (it = heat and humidity and doubt and the desire to stop). Listened to my Color playlist for the second half, the birds for the first half. Sparrows and woodpeckers and cardinals. The falls and the creek were gushing. I read the other day that, after 2 years, Minnesota is no longer in a drought. Hooray for the farmers! And the flowers! And the trees!

Today, the green was cool, then scraggly. Sprawling, stretching, overstepping. Almost consuming the narrow dirt trail on the grassy boulevard between edmund and the river road.

something for future Sara to remember: On Tuesday, I went to open the lime green umbrella on our deck and noticed something dark in the corner. With my bad vision, I thought it was a leaf at first. Then I saw something that looked like wings — a bat. I dropped the umbrella cord and ran inside. A few minutes later, Scott cautiously opened the umbrella then freaked out when the bat flew out. He staggered back and rammed into the handle of the door — hard. Knocked the wind out of him. Since then, he’s been having intermittent back spasms, which he describes as “charley horses” in his back. I would be freaking out, but he’s handling it fairly well. The worst part: trying to sleep — too painful in the bed, and we don’t have a recliner. Maybe he cracked a rib, maybe it’s a strained muscled. Hopefully it heals soon.

What I remember is seeing the bat wings as it flew away, looking like a Scooby Doo cartoon. Since then, I’ve cautiously opened the umbrella — no bat! Every time I bird flies overhead, their shadow crossing my legs, I wonder — a bird or a bat? A thought: bats as fully fleshed shadows. What if the dark forms we think are shadows are actually bats? That’s both a creepy and delightful thought!

june 5/RUN

5k
trestle turn around
66 degrees

A quick run before taking FWA to buy his biggest purchase ever: an A clarinet. Not an easy run, but a sunny day with fresh air and clear trails. More cool, refreshing green coming from the floodplain forest. Everywhere, mundane, flat green. A green greeting: saying good morning to a runner with headphones on who didn’t me coming. A green sound: a bird’s clicking jaw somewhere below.

A green chant to keep me going:

Sycamore
Cottonwood
Slippery elm

Spoken in my head over and over. It helped me in the tougher moments when I wanted to stop and walk.

green

Even as green is my favorite color, I do not like when green takes over everything. Green = busy doing things, producing, connecting, crowds/crowded/crowding out.

log entry on 28 oct 2019

june 3/RUN

4.2 miles
longfellow garden and back
73 degrees / dew point: 75

Sticky again today, but not as bright. Still hard to run through the thick air. Struggled on the way back — walk run walk run. Trying to remember to keep showing up and believing that it will get easier, or I will get better at handling the difficult moments, or I will finally start getting up early. I tried to think about green.

my favorite green

Running south, just past the ford bridge, nearing the locks and dam no. 1, cool air was coming from the green to my right — a small wood. Refreshing! Often I associate late spring green with thick and stifling, but today it was fresh and generous, making it easier to breathe and to run.

Before my run, I read this green poem:

Making Life on a Palette/ Raina J. León

After Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827), “George Washington at Princeton,” 1779

the color of life
takes sun yellow and bluest blue sky and water
for green ferns
chartreuse buds beading above moss
dappled shamrocks
fragrant healing of sage, laurel,
mint, basil, thyme, rosemary, myrtle
amid the tall wonders of juniper
pine, olive, pear
even the meeting of sea and river—
the sky, an intermingling of viridian and chetwode horizons,
and cerulean clarity—
offers its green seafoam,
its seaweed pats,
the crocodile at the edge of a freshwater marsh
its teeth open gritted in green
against the backdrop of hunter rainforest
dripping in green

heaven is a field of persian green
lit by translucent jade and celadon lamps
a many-roomed chateau scented by aromatic tea leaves
the aperitivo: gin, apple, and bitter lime
the time: midnight green
the guardian: a mantis in prayer

joy: harlequin, verdun, spring
magic: kaitoke forest in its energetic whisper and pulse

green must exist
inside brother james
would he call it camouflage
or nyanza or sap
for washington it’s in the colors of flags
the fields far off
feldgrau or military or empire green
or dollar bill or rifle green
revolution with chains the result
mix the green
like a spell in making
safe life
hush arbor life
nurturing abundant life
free life
bring the background to the fore
ease
ease
ease
life

So many greens! How many different greens can I see? Today, mostly, it was just green (or brown or gray).

Offering some advice on being judicious with your use of adjectives, Ted Kooser writes the following lines:

Morning Glories/ Ted Kooser

We share so much. When I write lattice,

I count on you seeing the flimsy slats

tacked into squares and painted white,

like a French door propped in a garden

with a blue condensed from many skies

pressed up against the panes. I count on

you knowing that remarkable blue,

shaped into the fluted amplifying horns

of Edison cylinder record players.

What? Come on, you know exactly
what I’m talking about. I didn’t need

to describe them like that, but I like to

however a little over my words, dabbling

the end of my finger in the white throats

of those __. You fill it in.

I could go on, but all I really needed to do

was to give you the name in the title.

I knew you’d put in the rest, maybe

the smell of a straw hat hot from the sun;

that’s just a suggestion. You know exactly

what else goes into a picture like this

to make it seem as if you saw it first, 

how a person can lean on the warm

hoe handle of a poem, dreaming,

making a little more out of the world

than was there just a moment before. 

I’m just the guy who gets it started.

Do I know that remarkable blue he’s writing about? Does he see the same blue that I do? Do we need to imagine the same blue to make his poem meaningful?

Reading “Making Life on a Palette” and “Morning Glories,” I’m thinking about the different work they ask of the reader, or, of this reader, me. “Palette” is filled with green words with histories that I don’t know; I had to do a lot of googling to dig into the poem. “Morning Glories” asks me to build an image from the name he offers, to draw upon the shared understanding/image of the flower that I already have.

Lately, I keep coming back to the question, how little data can we have and still “see” what something is? Not much, I think. Yet, to assume that we all see the same thing — the thing as it is — excludes a wide range of experiences and detail and ways of seeing. It leaves out a lot of different shades of green.

Speaking of green, I remembered that I had collected ideas about green in my plague notebook vol 3, June 2020:

june 2/RUN

3.5 miles
2 trail
66 degrees

13 years of running today. I had been planning to celebrate it with a long run, but even before I went outside I knew it wouldn’t happen. Mostly because it already felt too warm and too crowded (at 8:30 am). A rule I should remember to follow: no long runs on the weekends. Too many bikers and runners out on the trails. I also felt tired. During the first mile I chanted triple berries and tried to convince myself I could run 8 miles. By the time I reached Beckettwood, a mile in, I knew it wouldn’t happen. I ran down to the overlook and admired the river for a few minutes. Wow! A circle of white light in one spot, sparkles in another. I watched the light dance on the water through the trees and breathed.

The green and the sparkling water reminded me of a line in “Bein Green” by Kermit the Frog. Yesterday I started working on a color playlist and that was the first song I added:

It’s not easy bein’ green
It seems you blend in
With so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over
‘Cause you’re not standing out
Like flashy sparkles in the water

This blending in and not being flashy makes me think of the line from Wallace Stevens that I posted yesterday:

It must be this rhapsody or none,
The rhapsody of things as they are.

rhapsody: a portion of an epic poem adapted for recitation

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why
But, why wonder? Why wonder?
I’m green and it’ll do fine
It’s beautiful, and I think it’s what I want to be

An epic poem about green as green as mundane, ordinary, everywhere? These days, green is especially ordinary for me. Often I can’t tell the difference between brown and green or gray and green or blue and green.

green

yesterday while waiting to pick up my lexapro at the pharmacy, I noticed an unusual green in the vitamin aisle. A whole section with white and green bottles. Branding. I asked Scott what color green he thought it was, but he didn’t have any answer. Somewhere between jungle green and olive green? I forgot to check what brand of vitamins was using this color.

overheard on the winchell trail: (a woman describing her breakfast to her friends) and a shit ton of arugula

(from The Secret Lives of Colors) Scheele’s green: named after Swedish scientist, Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1773 when he discovered the compound, copper arsenite. Scheele’s green was used to print fabrics and wallpapers; to color artificial flowers, paper; and as an artist’s pigment. By 1863, it was all over England. Then people started dying and it was determined that copper arsensite was very poisonous — one 6 inch square sample of paper containing the compound could kill 2 men.

april 30/RUN

5.15 miles
bottom of franklin hill
54 degrees
wind: 3 mph

The sun is back! And so are shorts without tights. And rowers and roller skiers and laughing woodpeckers! A beautiful morning for a run. I remember looking down at the river: smooth and still. Heard a creaking noise under the trestle, almost like an old swing. Did someone hang up a swing down there? Smelled urine just above the flats — yuck! Encountered other runners and walkers and dogs and e-bikes — one was powering up the Franklin hill playing a classic rock song . . . I think it was AC/DC.

Running back through the tunnel of trees, almost done, I saw a dark shape up ahead. I assumed it was a dog. Nope, it was that big turkey again and this time he gobbled at me. The trail was narrow with no choice but to run right past him unless I turned around. Since I’m a wimp and he was staring menacingly at me, I turned around and ran until I reached the end of the fence. Then I climbed up to the bike trail. I’m fine with being a wimp.

Listened to the rowers as I ran north. After turning around and running up most of the hill, I put in Beyoncé’s new album, Cowboy Carter. Earlier today I was posting things about bees on a new resource page, Bees, so I have bees on the brain. Listening to Beyoncé, I heard a line with the word honey in it and thought, Queen Bee! Yes, more bees. I’ll have to add Beyonc´e to my bee page!

Before the run, I read this poem by James Schuyler that I’ve wanted to post ever since I discovered it a few weeks ago. I wanted to wait until it was green. Today it is, so I’m posting it:

A Gray Thought/ James Schuyler (1972)

In the sky a gray thought
ponders on three kinds of green:
Brassy tarnished leaves of lilacs
holding on half-heartedly and long
after most turned and fell to make
a scatter rug, warmly, brightly brown.
Odd, that the tattered heart-shapes 
on a Persian shrub should stay
as long as the northern needles 
of the larch.  Near, behind the lilac,
on a trunk, pale Paris green, green
as moonlight, growing on another time scale
a slowness becoming vast as though
all the universe were an atom
of a filterable virus in a head
that turns an eye to smile
or frown or stare into other
eyes: and not of gods, but creatures
whose size begins beyond the sense of size:
lichens, softly-coloured, hard in durance,
a permanence like rock on a transient tree.
And another green, a dark thick green
to face the winter, laid in layers on
the spruce and balsam or in foxtail
bursts on pine in springy shapes
that weave and pierce
the leafless and unpatterned woods.

I know this is a poem about 3 different greens in the fall, nearing winter. I’m posting it because I love his descriptions of green and wanted to use it to think more about different greens today. That was my plan, at least, as I ran. All I managed to do was chant a few 3-beat greens:

emerald green
army green
jungle green
pear green —
lime green —

Mid-chant I noticed the dandelions on the edge of the trail and condensed the 4-syllable word, dan de li on into 3-syllables: dan dy lines

Dandy lines? Love it. Maybe the title of a poem — a cento with flower lines, or is that too much?

The green I remember most was possibly not even green, depending on who you ask. A biker biked by, wearing the brightest yellow-green (or maybe just yellow?) shirt I’ve been able to see in a long time. Usually yellow or yellow-green is muted for me. Not this shirt. Wow! So bright it almost made my eyes hurt. My vision is so strange. How was I able to see the bright color this time, when I usually can’t see it?

added a few hours later: I almost forgot to mention the little wren that I saw as I was walking back to my house. First, a flash — or flutter or flurry or small explosion* — of movement on the street. Something, I could not tell what, ascending. Then a scan, all around until the source was found: a tiny brown bird on the top of the fence. They stayed long enough for even me to see their little face. Such a tiny bird! What miracle today allowed me to see them?

After lunch, while doing the dishes, I listened to the New Yorker Poetry podcast and heard David Baker read his wonderful poem, Six Notes (notes refers to taking notes for a poem, six sections, and the notes of different birds). The beginning of his poem reminds me of my bird sighting, even though my little wren didn’t make a sound and was rising, not falling:

from Six Notes / David Baker

Come down to us. Come down with your song,
little wren. The world is in pieces.

We must not say so. In the dark hours,
in the nearest branches, I hear you thrum—

Come up to us. Come up with your song,
little wren. The world is in pieces.

We must not say so. In the dark hours,
on the nearest fence post, I see you thrum–

*Having suddenly added explosion of movement as one of my word options, I feel compelled to add the source of that inspiration. It’s from a Chen Chen interview I read yesterday and had been planning to post sometime soon. Here’s what he said:

Poems are the opposite of habits. They are explosions. Sometimes they are small explosions. But loud. Or huge, quiet explosions.

Chen Chen Interview

So, was this little wren’s small explosion up and off the street a poem? Yes!