march 29/RUN

3.5 miles
river road, south/winchell trail/river road, north/edmund
39 degrees / feels like 30
wind: 20 mph

Overcast, windy, cold. Not too many people out on the trails. Ran south on the paved path, then a little on the Winchell trail — dirt, then rubbled asphalt, then paved, back up on the river road trail, through the tunnel of trees, then over to Edmund. Everything bare and brown and looking like November. Very pleasing to my eyes. Soft and dull, not sharp or crisp. Down on the Winchell Trail, I was closer to the river, but forgot to look. Maybe it was because I was too focused on the wind and reciting the poem by Christine Rossetti that I memorized this morning. I was reminded of it when I found it on my entry for March 29, 2020.

Who Has Seen the Wind?/ CHRISTINA ROSSETTI

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

It was really fun to recite (just in my head) as I ran. It’s iambic, mostly trimeter (I think?). I also recited the opening to Richard Siken’s “Lovesong of the Square Root of Negative One:

“I am the wind and the wind is invisible, all the leaves tremble but I am invisible.”

Before I went for my run, I spent more time with Alice Oswald. Here are a few bits from an interview she did in 2016 for Falling Awake:

I frequently get told I’m a nature poet living in a rural idyll, but just like the city, the country is full of anxious, savage people. The hedges seem so much stronger than the humans that you feel slightly imperilled and exposed, as if, if you stopped moving for a minute the nettles would just move in.

I think about this idea of the vegetation taking over when humans (by the gorge, Minneapolis Parks’ workers) stop managing and maintaining it. Creeping vines, tall grass, wandering branches, crumbling asphalt. I see these things all the time and often imagine how the green things might consume us when we stop paying attention.

I’m mostly interested in life and vitality, but you can only see that by seeing its opposite. I love erosion: I like the way that the death of one thing is the beginning of something else.

Erosion, things decomposing, returning, recycling. I’m drawn to noticing these things as I loop around the gorge.

It’s good to remember how to forget. I’m interested in the oral tradition: what keeps the poems alive is a little forgetting. In Homer you get the sense that anything could happen because the poet might not remember.

I like the idea of finding a balance, where I remember some things and forget others, or I forget some things so I can remember other things.

Poetry is not about language but about what happens when language gets impossible.

I like the idea of things being impossible to ever fully achieve, where no words can ever fully capture/describe what something it. When language is impossible, it’s possible to keep imagining/dreaming up new meanings.

I’m interested in how many layers you can excavate in personality. At the top it’s all quite named. But you go down through the animal and the vegetable and then you get to the mineral. At that level of concentration you can respond to the non-human by half turning into it.

This line about getting down to the mineral, reminded me of some of Oswald’s words in Dart and Lorine Niedecker’s words in “Lake Superior”:

from Dart / Alice Oswald

where’s Ernie? Under the ground

where’s Redver’s Webb? Likewise.

Tom, John and Solomon Warne, Dick Jorey, Lewis
Evely?

Some are photos, others dust.
Heading East to West along the tin lodes,
80 foot under Hepworthy, each with a tallow candle in
his hat.

Till rain gets into the stone,
which washes them down to the valley bottoms
and iron, lead, zinc, copper calcite
and gold, a few flakes of it
getting pounded between the pebbles in the river.

from “Lake Superior” / Lorine Niedecker

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

And the idea of moving through layers, reminds me of Julian Spahr and their poem that moves through layers, first out, then in:

poemwrittenafterseptember 11, 2001 / Julian Spahr

as everyone with lungs breathes the space between the hands and the space around the hands and the space of the room and the space of the building that surrounds the room and the space of the neighborhoods nearby and the space of the cities and the space of the regions and the space of the nations and the space of the continents and islands and the space of the oceans and the space of the troposphere and the space of the stratosphere and the space of the mesosphere in and out.

In this everything turning and small being breathed in and out by everyone with lungs during all the moments.

Then all of it entering in and out.

The entering in and out of the space of the mesosphere in the entering in and out of the space of the stratosphere in the entering in and out of the space of the troposphere in the entering in and out of the space of the oceans in the entering in and out of the space of the continents and islands in the entering in and out of the space of the nations in the entering in and out of the space of the regions in the entering in and out of the space of the cities in the entering in and out of the space of the neighborhoods nearby in the entering in and out of the space of the building in the entering in and out of the space of the room in the entering in and out of the space around the hands in the entering in and out of the space between the hands.

How connected we are with everyone.

The space of everyone that has just been inside of everyone mixing inside of everyone with nitrogen and oxygen and water vapor and argon and carbon dioxide and suspended dust spores and bacteria mixing inside of everyone with sulfur and sulfuric acid and titanium and nickel and minute silicon particles from pulverized glass and concrete.

How lovely and how doomed this connection of everyone with lungs.

I’ve been wanting to do something with layers and the gorge. What form might it take?

nov 10/RUN

5.25 miles
franklin loop
44 degrees

Still lots of yellow in the gorge, but leaves are falling fast. Wind, rain, and the possibility of snow flurries this weekend. Overcast, windy, less humid. I ran north to franklin, over the bridge, south on the east side of the river until reaching another bridge, back over to the west side, then home.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. The view down to the floodplain forest was clear; I could see the forest floor, or at least all the yellow leaves on the floor
  2. The view up to the road from the tunnel of trees was clear too; no hiding below the road until spring
  3. The river from the franklin bridge: cold, dark blue, the railroad trestle in the distance
  4. Running under the railroad trestle, I heard some voices, laughing. Looked down: at least 2 people walking up the limestone slab steps on the Winchell Trail
  5. Running under the railroad trestle, 2: a memorial for someone who died–a biker hit by a car? In addition to the hanging white bike, which is always there, a vase of flowers placed on the ledge
  6. Nearing the old stone steps, hearing the yippy bark of a dog slightly below, the sound moving up slowly — was the dog climbing the steps? Yes. When I reached them, there they were: black, tiny, skittering around
  7. The spray of water that hit me as I started my run–not sure what it was from. It happened as I ran by a neighbor’s house, where a loud machine that looked like a pump, attached to a hose, was set up. Was it an exploding sprinkler? Would I have been able to avoid this if I could see better?
  8. A shorter, older woman with white hair, slightly hunched, walking fast
  9. A taller, younger woman with a pony tail and jutting elbows, also walking fast
  10. After my run was finished, walking the last few blocks: wind chimes!

A great run. I’m working on a long, sequence poem about haunts, haunting, and haunted, and I had a few good thoughts, like the idea of haunting (frequenting, traveling on, slightly floating above) the path/trail as being (happily) out of touch. Disconnected. I thought about the image of a phone being off the hook and eavesdropping, to listen in, overhear, catch bits of someone else’s conversation. Everything an opportunity to be curious and imagine/guess what’s being said without needing to connect that imagination to reality. To fly, float, have freedom, be freed from concerns, worries, the need to be productive.

Yesterday, working on this poem, which is in the form of 3 syllable/2 syllable lines, I thought about Lorine Niedecker and the short, stubby form of her poems. I think she’s an inspiration. Here’s a bit from one of her longer poems, Wintergreen Ridge. (note: in addition to having short lines, this poem travels across the page, broken up into 3 lines, the first with no indentation, the second with one indent, the third with two, on repeat throughout the poem. Mary Oliver does something like this too. Did she take inspiration from Niedecker? Anyway, I’m being lazy or rushed, so I’m not doing the fiddly, extra formatting required (lots of  s) for spacing it.

Wintergreen Ridge/Lorine Niedecker

Life is natural
in the evolution
of matter

Nothing supra-rock
about it
simply

butterflies

***

(autumn?)

Sometimes it’s a pleasure
to grieve
or dump

the leaves most brilliant
as do trees
when they’ve no need

of an overload
of cellulose
for a cool while

Nobody, nothing
ever gave me
greater thing

than time
unless light
and silence

which if intense
makes sound
Unaffected

by man

I love Niedecker and her condensing ways!

june 11/RUN

5k
2 trails + 7 oaks
81 degrees
dew point: 68

How many days have we been above 90 now? Just checked my log, since at least June 4th. Tomorrow the high is only 86. Summer running is not my favorite, although I am learning to endure it more. 55-65 degrees is what I’d like to have for these early morning runs.

I ran south on the river road trail and passed lots of bikes, but not too many runners. All the green made it difficult to see the river. At 42nd, I encountered a roller skier in the grass taking a break. Can it still be my good omen if I don’t hear the clickity-clacks? Entering the Winchell Trail at the southern start, it was dark and quiet and thick with heat. No noise, not even a single dribble from the sewer pipe. A few days ago, STA and I were discussing the grossness of the word “dribble”–it’s a failure to flow or function properly. You dribble drool or pee. It’s like a weaker form of leaking.

Parts of the Winchell trail were a blur. I don’t remember running down the hill to the little bridge with the raised lip of the trail that I have to look out for so I don’t trip on it, or running up the mini hill just before the steeper climb at Folwell. After ascending at Folwell, then descending on the other side, back down a little closer to the river, I realized I was more than half way done with this hot run, and it felt easier because of this realization.

For the last 1/2 mile, I started reciting “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in my head. I got as far as the verse, “The Sun came up upon the left/out of the sea came he/And he shone bright/and to the right went down into the sea.”

Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha

Lorine Niedecker’s work is inspiring me to think in deeper ways about the place I run–the Mississippi River Gorge, Minnehaha Falls, Lake Nokomis. Part of this involves thinking more about the rock and stone–the physical geography, and part of it involves reflecting on the haunting trace of dishonest treaties, stolen land, buried stories and traditions, and who controls the stories we encounter/remember/pass on about the river, the gorge, and the falls (St. Anthony and Minnehaha).

Yesterday, I decided to read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” It’s in the public domain so I was able to download the entire thing for free on iBooks–all 400+ pages of it! 22 chapters?! Wow. I had no idea it was so long. I wonder what part of it is etched on the stone at Minnehaha Falls? I’ll have to check next time I bike or run over there. Not sure I’ll be reading the entire thing, but it’s interesting to skim it and think about how much of where I live takes names from this poem: Now I live in Longfellow neighborhood, I used to live in Nokomis east. My kids went to Hiawatha Elementary School and spent their summers in camp a few miles away at Lake Hiawatha.. I regularly run to Minnehaha Falls and beside Minnehaha Creek. I do open swim at Lake Nokomis.

The only part of “The Song of Hiawatha” that I remember, is the brief bit that my grandma Ines would recite when we visited her at the family farm in the upper peninsula of Michigan:

By the shore of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water

Gitche Gumee is another name of Lake Superior. So many connections. In “Lake Superior” Lorine Niedecker never mentions Longfellow or his poem, but she does reference Schoolcraft–the explorer whose notes and book Longfellow relied on for his epic poem. Another thing I just learned about Schoolcraft: he “discovered” and named Lake Itasca. It’s not a variation on an indigenous name, but the mashing up of the latin phrase for true/head source: verITAS CAput

Last night, I checked out a little bit of the final chapter (ch 22): “Hiawatha’s Departure” and I cringed when I got to the description of the white missionary being welcomed by Hiawatha with delight:

From the distant land of Wabun*,
From the farthest realms of morning
Came the Black-Robe chief, the Prophet,
He the Priest of Prayer, the Pale-face,
With his guides and his companions.

And the noble Hiawatha,
With his hands aloft extended,
Held aloft in sign of welcome,
Waited, full of exultation,
Till the birch canoe with paddles
Grated on the shining pebbles,
Stranded on the sandy margin,
Till the Black-Robe chief, the Pale-face,
With the cross upon his bosom,
Landed on the sandy margin.

Then the joyous Hiawatha
Cried aloud and spake in this wise:
“Beautiful is the sun, O strangers,
When you come so far to see us!
All our town in peace awaits you,
All our doors stand open for you;
You shall enter all our wigwams,
For the heart’s right hand we give you.”

“Never bloomed the earth so gayly,
Never shone the sun so brightly,
As to-day they shine and blossom
When you come so far to see us!

*Wabun is also the name of a park near Minnehaha Falls that I sometimes run through and that has a wonderful wading pool that I used to take my kids to when they were younger. I never knew what Wabun meant; it’s sunrise (from the Anishinaabe language).

But, back to Schoolcraft and Niedecker’s poem “Lake Superior.” Here’s an excerpt from the poem that uses details from Schoolcraft’s accounts of reaching Lake Itasca and the source of the Mississippi River. Interesting to note something I just found out: Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha” takes place in UP Michigan by the pictured rocks on Lake Superior, near Munsing. Niedecker references Pictured Rocks in this excerpt (“Wave-cut Cambrian rock/painted by soluble mineral oxides”:

Schoolcraft left the Soo–canoes
US pennants, masts, sails
chanting canoemen, barge
soldiers–for Minnesota

Their South Shore journey
as if Life’s—
The Chocolate River
The Laughing Fish
and The River of the Dead

Passed peaks of volcanic thrust
Hornblende in massed granite
Wave-cut Cambrian rock
painted by soluble mineral oxides
wave-washed and the rains
did their work and a green
running as from copper

Sea-roaring caverns—
Chippewas threw deermeat
to the savage maws
Voyaheurs crossed themselves
tossed a twist of tobacco in”

Inland then
beside the great grainite
gneiss and the schists

to the redolent pondy lakes’
lilies, flag and Indian reed
“through which we successfully
passed”

The smooth black stone
I picked up in true source park
the leaf beside it
once was stone

true source park = true source = lake itasca

I love how a poem like this requires some work from the reader. So many references, some might be obvious to those who know, but not to those of who don’t. So, we have to look things up, and it’s not too hard now with so much information online. How did people read these poems in the past? Did you spend your entire day at the library, hunting down sources? That might be fun. I like giving the reader work and some of the responsibility. For too many years I was told, as the writer, it is my sole responsibility to make my writing clear to others. If they can’t understand it, it is my failure. Poetry refuses this obligation and invites the reader to put in some effort to understand.

Chocolate River: I was thinking this was about the color of the river, but after more searching I found a reference to it in an account by Schoolcraft about the discovery of the sources of the Mississippi River: “on the coasts of the lake between Gitchi Sebing (Great River), called by the French, Chocolate River.” In some more searching, I haven’t found any more about a chocolate river. In the process of looking this up, I found a very cool page, What Color is the Mississippi River?–I recall asking this question not too long ago on this log.

june 10/SWIM

1 mile
lake nokomis big beach
30 minutes

Another mile swimming just off the big beach around the white buoys! Another almost perfect weather day–no wind, sun, warm, but not too warm, water! I checked online, the water temp is 75, which is plenty warm for me. Today I used my new safety buoy, not for safety, but to hold my phone and keys so I don’t have to leave them in my yellow backpack on the beach while I swim. It’s an inflatable buoy–bright yellow–with a dry pouch inside that you can store stuff in. You hook it to a belt that you wear around your waist. Pretty slick. For 7 years, when I swim, I leave my yellow backpack on the beach and it always makes me a little nervous, especially because it has my phone and my bike lock key. Now, I won’t worry. And, it’s good to have a buoy so that other people in boats can see me.

Right before my swim on Tuesday, as I put my swim cap on in the shallow water, I watched little minnows quickly swimming away from my approaching feet. Such a sweet and delightful thing to witness! What is the collective noun for minnows? A flash of minnows? A flurry of minnows? Looked it up and found some other answers: a swarm, a stream, a school of minnows. The minnows were still there this morning. I can’t remember if they stay all summer; I’ll have to check from them in July and August.

Since I had my phone with me, my distance was more accurate: today the activity app said I swam 1.08 miles, as compared to Tuesday when it said I swam .67 miles. I have decided that, for my purposes, 6 loops = 1 mile. 2 miles swam, 98 to go!

I didn’t see any flashes below me, or shafts of light, but I did encounter a few ducks right before I started, and a few bits of milfoil floating in the water. I noticed how the white buoys disappeared in my central vision, then reappeared in my periphery. I saw a paddle boarder and another swimmer–mostly I sensed another swimmer, hearing their hands occasionally slap the water, glimpsing a quick flash of foaming water in their wake.

I breathed every 5 strokes or five/six/five or three/four/five/three or every six. As I swam every six I thought about a poem I wrote a few years ago, “Submerged,” and how I like stroking more, breathing less in order to spend more time submerged, pretending I’m a fish. Sometimes I thought about my wonderful son FWA and how he graduated from high school last night. Those thoughts made my swim more relaxed. Other times I thought about something else–I can’t remember what, just that it involved worries–and my swim was harder, less free.

Found these two excerpts from Niedecker’s poem, “For Paul” (1950). The first one is about her failing vision: in 1949, she was diagnosed with nystagma (roving eyes). The second one is about June:

You are far away
sweet reason

Since I saw you last, Paul
my sight is weaker . . .

I still see–
it’s the facts are thick–
thru glass:

*

Hi, Hot-and-Humid

That June she’s a lush

She marsh wallows, frog bickering
moon pooling, green gripping

Fool
Keep cool

In my June 8th log entry, I posted Niedecker’s poem, “Paean to Place.” Love this poem. In an article about Niedecker’s ecopoetics, I found a link to a facsimile of a hand-written version of this poem that she made into a book for a friend. Nice!

Paean to Place, facsimile

Last night at FWA’s graduation, the principal gave an introduction/welcome in which he did a land acknowledgment, recognizing the land/city where the school was built is Dakota land. I wasn’t able to hear exactly what he said because a group of people two rows back wouldn’t shut up–am I the only person who actually wants to listen to (and enjoys) the speeches? Probably. Anyway, I’m not sure of his wording, or if he used the words “stolen” or is versus was Dakota land, but I was glad to hear him say something. Just hours before graduation, I was reading an article about land acknowledgment, its problems and possibilities: WHERE WE STAND: THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA AND DAKHÓTA TREATY LANDS

I’m thinking about how to incorporate a deeper recognition and acknowledgment of the history of that land I write about in my bio and through my poems.

june 9/RUN

4 miles
marshall hill
74 degrees
dew point: 66

Delia the dog woke me up and forced me out of bed at 5:45, yesterday it was 5:55. I suppose I should be grateful; I like early mornings in the summer. If she wakes me up at 5:30 tomorrow, we’re taking a walk. Mornings are magical. Getting up so early, I was able to sit, drink my coffee, and still get out for my run before 7. Very nice.

I ran the marshall hill route for the first time since november 24, 2019, just near the end of the before times. Running north on the river road trail, I greeted the Welcoming Oaks. So wonderful to run by them on this sunny morning! And, to run by the sprawling oak that shades the ancient boulder with the stacked stones–2 today. Heading down into the thickening tunnel of trees, I heard the clickity-clack of a lone roller skier and then the coxswain’s bullhorn. Rowers! Later, running over the lake street bridge, I managed to spot the rowers on the smooth, glassy river. Running up marshall hill was tough, but I convinced myself not to stop for a break until I was at the top. Reaching the east river road and running down the hill right above Shadow Falls was fun. Near the end of the run, I could hear the buzz of the cicadas. I liked the noise even though it sounded like heat.

My focus on water and stone this month has led me to Lorine Niedecker and I am excited. Her work is opening many doors for me. I bought Niedecker’s Lake Superior a few years ago, but never really looked at it. Now, I am, and I’m amazed. The book begins with her poem “Lake Superior” and then an excerpt of her notes for the poem. She took 300 single-spaced, type-written notes for a poem that is less than 400 words. Wow! At the end of the notes, the editor of this book mentions that all 300 pages of Niedecker’s notes are available online through the University of Wisconsin Digital Collection. Nice!

side note: Reading an article about Niedecker, I discovered that her name is pronounced nee-decker, and that it had originally been spelled Neidecker but she changed it to make the pronunciation less confusing. Really? When I see Nie I think nye, and when I see Nei, I think neigh or nye, not nee. But maybe that’s just me?

Here’s a poem of hers that I imagine is one of her more well-known:

Poet’s work/ LORINE NIEDECKER

Grandfather   
   advised me:
         Learn a trade

I learned
   to sit at desk
         and condense

No layoff
   from this
         condensery

I love this poem–the idea of condensing as a trade, the valuing of condensing, the exemplification of it in the poem, “Lake Superior”–300 pages of notes condensed down to 300+ words!

Here are a few reasons I’m excited about Niedecker now, at the beginning of my encounters with her:

  • She writes about the lake I was born on, Lake Superior, and geology and geography that resonates with me
  • Her process: all the notes condensed down to a pithy, beautiful poem + the type of notes: history mixed with her travel stories, critical commentary on land and language and globalization
  • The forms of her poems and how the later ones might be influenced by her vision diagnosis when she was 46–she had nystagmic (your eyes constantly move, struggle to focus)
  • Her attention to and writing about rocks and water
  • The impact of her work through the WPA Writers program on the guide for Wisconsin + her work with Aldo Leopold
  • This brief essay, Switchboard Girl, in which she writes about her struggle to find work with her eye condition. I’m planning to read this closely; it might give me some useful language for understanding and communicating my own struggles with work after my diagnosis

It’s exciting to me how, slowly–4+ years of writing, reading, studying, listening to, memorizing poetry–I’m finding more ways into beautiful, useful, powerful, better words.

water and stone, another perspective

After posting this entry, I read some more of Tom Weber’s Minneapolis: An Urban Biography–specifically about the Dakota people, the settler colonizing of the area, and how Ramsey (gov. of Minnesota when it became a state + responsible for the Dakota Exclusion Act, making all Dakota people illegal in Mn + namesake of the county in which St. Paul resides) and Pike (responsible for the shady illegal treaties that led to Dakota people ceding all of their land to the US) were awful. Then I googled some more about St. Anthony Falls and found this interesting bit of information:

Owamni-yomni is ‘whirlpool’ in the Dakota language.
Gakaabika is ‘severed rock’ in the Ojibwe language. 

Water and rock. I want to read more about this naming and why the Dakota chose to emphasize water and the Ojibwe rock. Both viewed the place as sacred–I know a little more about the Dakota and how importance this water was for them, but not as much about Ojibwe and sandstone/limestone.

june 8/SWIM

1 mile/6 loops
lake nokomis, big beach
84 degrees

My first real swim (30 minutes straight) since September of 2019! Very exciting. My apple watch consistently underestimates the distance, so I’m not quite sure, but based on my pace and past loop swimming, I’ve decided I swam a mile. My first mile of many this summer, I hope. It’s ambitious, but I’d love to swim 100 miles this summer. Only 99 left.

The water was about as good as it gets. Not too cold, no chop, no debris. I could see the white buoys out of my periphery. I think I saw a few big fish swimming below me and some beams or streaks of light. Swimming so close to the white buoys, I got a good look at the brown muck on the underside of the buoys at each end. Yuck. I “raced” a paddle boarder paddling in from the middle of the lake, and avoided a few other boats. I mostly breathed every 5 strokes. Sometimes 5, then 6. A few times, 3. A lot of the time I thought about how my right shoulder–the one I injured last spring scraping paint off of the deck–ached a little more than my left, and whether or not the every-so-often sharp pain in my right ear was the start of something, but occasionally I thought about how much I love swimming, and how, even more than running, it gives you a way into another world, where your senses don’t work, or work strangely. Very cool. I like this water world.

For a few hours after I had finished, my body, especially my shoulders, felt slightly and pleasantly sore–not that miserable sore where you can barely move, but the sore you feel when you have worked your muscles and they are grateful to be used in this way finally, after a long 16 months away from the water.

My theme this month is water and stone. As I read through various essays, poems, articles, I’m coming to realize that I’m understanding the theme through the work of one of my new (not new, she’s died 4 years before I was born in 1970, but new to me) favorite poets: Lorine Niedecker. Here’s the opening to a beautiful poem that might serve as an inspiration for me (note: her cool spacing didn’t work when I pasted it into wordpress. Click on the poem to read it with the cool spacing):

Paean to Place/ LORINE NIEDECKER

And the place
was water
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

I was born on water, Lake Superior in Hancock, Michigan, and my mom was too, Mississippi River in West St. Paul, Minnesota. While my mom never learned to swim, or love being in the water, I did. As a digital story I created more than 5 years ago begins: “I have loved water all my life.”

june 4/RUN

3.3 miles
2 trails
72 degrees

Ran earlier this morning–at 6:30–to beat the heat. High of 99 today. We already turned the air on. 90s for the next 5 days. All this heat should warm up the lake. Less than 2 weeks until open swim begins!

I ran south on the upper trail. I tried to look at the river but it was hard. Too much green. Even at the overlook by the entrance to Winchell Trail was green. Only slashes of silver–or white heat–burning through the trees. Running north again on the Winchell Trail at the steepest spot above the river, I could feel the river through my peripheral vision. Sometimes it was a constant brightness, other times a rhythmic flash, keeping time with my striking feet as I passed one tree after another.

Yesterday I mentioned noticing the large crack in the trail that’s been marked with white spray paint and looks like Florida or a tube sock. Glancing at it today, I think it looks more like a knee-high sock or a compression sock, and not really Florida–although it still reminds me of Florida which, despite all the shit happening there these days, is not a bad thing. I have fond memories of visiting my grandparents in Deltona–the heat, the tropical humidity, the beach, Epcot, even the swampy salty tap water. I miss the ocean; I haven’t been there since FWA was a few months old, he’s 18 now.

Other things I noticed: a tall tree on the Winchell Trail leaning over a little too much–was it about to fall?; the trickle of water from the sewer pipe at 44th and the faster flow at the 42nd street pipe, the noise of water mixing in with the noise of rustling leaves; the river more light than water; my good omen: a lone roller skier; the shuffling, stomping feet of a runner behind me, becoming more distant with each step; a furry, big dog sitting calmly, perched at the top of the 38th street steps next to a bench and a human; some singing birds–robins, I think; a greeting from a runner; my new running shorts irritatingly riding up on the one side–probably due to the heat.

Reading Lorine Niedecker’s “Lake Superior.” I’m thinking about rocks and layers and these two opening lines, one from her poem, “Lake Superior,” and one from her essay, “Lake Superior Country, Vacation Trip ’66”:

from Lake Superior

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

In blood the minerals
of the rock

from Lake Superior Country, Vacation Trip ’66

The journey of the rock is never ended. In every tiny part of any living thing are materials that once were rock that turned to soil. These minerals are drawn out of the soil by plant roots and the plant used them to build leaves, stems, flowers and fruits. Plants are eaten by animals. In our blood is iron from plants that draw out of the soil. Your teeth and bones were once coral. The water you drink has been in clouds over the mountains of Asia and in waterfall of Africa. The air you breathe has swirled thru places of the earth that no one has ever seen. Every bit of you is a bit of earth and has been on many strange and wonderful journeys over countless millions of years.

july 26/RUN

3 miles
47th ave, north/32nd st, east/river road, north/river road, south
71 degrees
humidity: 95%/ dew point: 72

Rained last night and early this morning so everything was dripping when I went out for my run. I didn’t feel the water so much as hear it coming off the trees, trickling off the gutters, gushing through the sewer pipe above the ravine. Several puddles on the sidewalk in the usual spots. Because the rain had only recently stopped, there weren’t too many people out near the river. When I finally reached it, just past the aspen eyes, I was able to run right above it. I even saw it a few times through the thick green. Running up the hill from below the lake street bridge I kept running on the trail that veers away from the road and right above the rowing club. I haven’t run on this part of the path for months! Ended my run climbing the hill near the tunnel of trees. In other summers, when I can safely run on the trail, a mist gets trapped here after it rains in the mid-story canopy. On the road this morning, there was mist too, but not as thick. It felt strange and dreamy to run through it.

Yesterday I began reading a thesis about Lorine Niedecker and how her vision problems shaped some of her poetry. The author focuses on this poem in particular:

Wintergreen Ridge /Lorine Niedecker

Where the arrow
         of the road signs
                 lead us:

Life is natural
         in the evolution
                of matter

Nothing supra-rock
        about it
                simply

butterflies
        are quicker
                than rock

Man 
        lives hard
                on this stone perch

by sea
       imagines
               durable works

in creation here
        as in the center
               of the world

let’s say
        of art 
              We climb

the limestone cliffs
        my skirt dragging
               an inch below

the knee 
        the style before 
               the last

the last the least
         to see 
              Norway

or “half of Sussex
         and almost all
              of Surrey”

Crete perhaps
         and further:
             “Every creature

better alive
        than dead.
              men and moose

and pine trees”
       We are gawks
              lusting

after wild orchids
       Wait! What’s this? —
             sign:

Flowers
        loveliest
            where they grow

Love them enjoy them
        and leave them so
            Let’s go!

Evolution’s wild ones
        saved
            continuous life

through change
       from Time Began
            Northland’s
unpainted barns
       fish and boats
            now this —

flowering ridge
       the second one back
            from the lighthouse

Who saved it? —
       Women
            of good wild stock

Stood stolid
        before machines
           They stopped bulldozers

cold
        We want it for all time
           they said

and here it is —
        horsetails
          club mosses

stayed alive
        after dinosaurs
          died

Found:
       laurel in muskeg
          Linnaeus’s twinflower

Andromeda
       Cisandra of the bog
           pearl flowered

Lady’s tresses
       insect-eating
          pitcher plant

Bedeviled little Drosera
       of the sundews
          deadly

in sphagnum moss
       sticks out its sticky
          (Darwin tested)

tentacled leaf
       towards a fly
           half an inch away

engulfs it
       Just the touch
          of a gnat on a filament

stimulates leaf-plasma
       secretes a sticky
          clear liquid

the better to eat you
       my dear
          digest cartilage

and tooth enamel
        (DHL spoke of blood
          in a green growing thing

in Italy was it?)
       They do it with glue
          these plants

Lady’ Slipper’s glue
       and electric threads
          smack the sweets-seeker

on the head
      with pollinia
          The bee

befuddled
     the door behind him
          closed he must

go out the rear
     the load on him 
         for the next

flower
     Women saved
        a pretty thing: Truth:

“a good to the heart” 
     It all comes down
        to the family

“We have a lovely
     finite parentage
        mineral

vegetable
     animal”
        Nearby dark wood —

I suddenly heard
     the cry
        my mother’s

where the light
     pissed past
        the pistillate cone

how she loved
     closed gentians
        she herself

so closed
     and in this to us peace
        the stabbing

pen
     friend did it
        close to the heart

pierced the woods
     red
        (autumn?)

Sometimes it’s a pleasure
     to grieve
        or dump

the leaves most brilliant
     as do trees
        when they’ve no need

of an overload
     of cellulose
        for a cool while

Nobody, nothing
     ever gave me
        greater thing

than time
     unless light
        and silence

which if intense
     makes sound
        Unaffected

by man
     thin to nothing lichens
        grind with their acid

granite to sand
     These may survive
        the grand blow-up

the bomb
     When visited
        by the poet

From Newcastle on Tyne
     I neglected to ask
        what wild plants

have you there
     how dark
        how inconsiderate

of me
     Well I see at this point
        no pelting of police

with flowers
     no uprooted gaywings
        bishop’s cup

white bunchberry
     under aspens
        pipsissewa

(wintergreen)
     grass of parnassus
        See beyond —

ferns
     algae
        water lilies

Scent
     the simple
        the perfect

order
     of that flower
        water lily

I see no space-rocket
     launched here
        no mind-changing

acids eaten
     one sort manufactured
        as easily as gin

in a bathtub
     Do feel however
        in liver and head

as we drive
     towards cities
        the change

in church architecture —
     now it’s either a hood
        for a roof

pulled down to the ground
     and below
        or a factory-long body

crawled out from a rise
     of black dinosaur-necked
        blower-beaked

smokestack-
     steeple
        Murder in the Cathedral’s

proportions
     Do we go to church
        No use

discussing heaven 
     HJ’s father long ago
        pronounced human affairs

gone to hell
     Great God —
         what men desire! —

the scientist: a full set
     of fishes
        the desire to know

Another: to talk beat
     act cool
        release    la’go

So far out of flowers
     human parts found
        wrapped in newspaper

left at the church
     near College Avenue
        More news: the war

which “cannot be stopped”
     ragweed pollen
        sneezeweed

whose other name
     Ambrosia
        goes for a community

Ahead — home town
     second shift steamfitter
        ran arms out

as tho to fly
     dived to concrete
        from loading dock

lost his head
     Pigeons
        (I miss the gulls)

mourn the loss
     of people
        no wild bird does

It rained
     mud squash
        willow leaves

in the eaves
     Old sunflower
        you bowed

to no one
     but Great Storm
        of Equinox

sept 13/RUN

4 miles
almost to franklin turn around
59 degrees

Such weird weather. Windy. Sunny then cloudy then misting then sunny again. Cool then warm then cool. Listened to my audio book (Once Upon a River) and avoided slow squirrels sauntering on the path. Felt strong and relaxed. Greeted the Daily Walker. Faintly heard some rowers in the gorge. Stepped on and over acorns and piles of fallen leaves littering the path. Occasionally glanced down at the river. Hard to see through all the green. Even when it was overcast and the sun was hidden, I glowed in my neon yellow 2018 10 mile race t-shirt.

Returning to my haibun route project. Started reading Lorine Niedecker’s Lake Superior for inspiration. Here’s an excerpt:

The journey of the rock is never ended. In every tiny part of any living thing are materials that once were rock that turned to soil. These minerals are drawn out of the soil by plant roots and the plant used them to build leaves, stems, flowers and fruits. Plants are eaten by animals. In our blood is iron from plants that draw it out of the soil. Your teeth and bones were once coral. The water you drink has been in clouds over the mountains of Asia and in waterfalls of Africa. The air you breathe has swirled thru places of the earth that no one has ever seen. Every bit of you is a bit of the earth and has been on many strange and wonderful journeys over countless millions of years.

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