dec 4/RUN

2.5 miles
neighborhood
38 degrees

Feeling sore–not hurt, just sore–in my legs and lower back so I wasn’t sure I would run today but when Scott said it seemed like a great day to run outside, I had to do it. Sunny, mild, clear. A bit windy, but not too bad. A few more people since it is warmish and closer to noon, but I managed to keep distance from all of them. Listened to a playlist again so I didn’t hear any birds or leaves or far away traffic. I’m very close to my goal of 1000 miles for the year! I should take 3 or 4 days off from running once I reach that goal. My body needs it. 1000 miles has demanded a lot–I’ve run almost every day this year. Almost all of those runs have been short–4 or 5k–but frequent. Will I ever be able to run more than 1000 miles in a year? Would that be good for my body? I’m not sure.

Anything I remember from my run? My mind has gone blank. No views of the river, no remarkable trees, no roller skiers or fat tires or Daily Walker. I do remember running on the dirt trail between the river road and edmund. Uneven and windy (as in lots of meandering, not a stiff breeze). I remember wanting to stop at the top of the edmund hill to change my music but deciding to keep going. I remember seeing lots of cars on the river road and running in the grass at Howe field to avoid pedestrians. I remember stepping off the sidewalk and running in the street several times to avoid some more people, doing a loop around Cooper and Howe, smelling something overwhelmingly fruity coming from a van and guessing that someone inside of it was vaping. I remember feeling especially strong and smooth as I ran down the hill on 32nd and especially nostalgic as I ran by the main entrance at my kids’ old kindergarten. I don’t remember taking note of my breathing or making up any chants or noticing any connections between my striking feet and my inhales and exhales.

Richard Siken is the Best

I think it was last year that poets.org began including an “About this poem” author’s note with the poem-of-the-day. I find them helpful and interesting and always look at them after my initial reading of the poem. Richard Aiken’s “About this poem” note for today’s “Real Estate” is the best, most delightful one I’ve ever read. It offers an explanation that helped me to (start to) understand the poem, which is great, but it also offers itself up as another poem to place beside the first one. How cool to turn the note into a poem! I want to experiment with doing this, especially since I am so resistant to offering explanations for what I’m doing (even as I feel I should and/or long to).

Real Estate/ Richard Siken

My mother married a man who divorced her for money. Phyllis, he would say, If you don’t stop buying jewelry, I will have to divorce you to keep us out of the poorhouse. When he said this, she would stub out a cigarette, mutter something under her breath. Eventually, he was forced to divorced her. Then, he died. Then she did. The man was not my father. My father was buried down the road, in a box his other son selected, the ashes of his third wife in a brass urn that he will hold in the crook of his arm forever. At the reception, after his funeral, I got mean on four cups of Lime Sherbet Punch. When the man who was not my father divorced my mother, I stopped being related to him. These things are complicated, says the Talmud. When he died, I couldn’t prove it. I couldn’t get a death certificate. These things are complicated, says the Health Department. Their names remain on the deed to the house. It isn’t haunted, it’s owned by ghosts. When I die, I will come in fast and low. I will stick the landing. There will be no confusion. The dead will make room for me.

About this poem

“I had a stroke and forgot almost everything. My handwriting was big and crooked and I couldn’t walk. I slept a lot. I made lists, a working glossary. Meat. Blood. Floor. Thunder. I tried to understand what these things were and how I was related to them. Thermostat. Agriculture. Cherries Jubilee. Metamodernism. I understand North, but I struggle with left. Describing the world is easier than finding a place in it. Doorknob. Flashlight. Landmark. Yardstick.”
Richard Siken

I want to experiment with adding these notes to my mood ring poems–and maybe my earlier Snellen chart ones too. Is that too much?

dec 3/RUN

2.7 miles
river road path, south/edmund, north
30 degrees

Another great morning for a run. Not windy or crowded. Lots of sun. Clear paths and sidewalks. Listened to Taylor Swift on Spotify. Felt strong and happy to be outside above the river which was glowing brightly again through the bare trees, looking almost like a heat mirage in the summer. The air, wavy. Noticed at least one person below on the Winchell Trail wearing a bright blue jacket. Anything else? No fat tires or roller skiers or groups of runners or turkeys or squirrels.

Critter Sighting!

A fox! At least, I’m pretty sure it was a fox hauling ass across the street straight into someone’s back yard, probably heading to 7 Oaks and its massive sinkhole. Looked too big and too fast to be a cat, too furry and feline-like to be a dog. Glad they kept running and left me alone! I am a wimp when it comes to wildlife. Sure, I’m very excited to spot a coyote or a fox or a muskrat, but only from a safe distance.

Discovered this awesome poem about a woodpecker this morning:

A woodpecker’s/ PHILIP GROSS

working the valley
or is it the other way round?

That bone-clinking clatter, maracas
or knucklebones or dance of  gravel

on a drumskin, the string of  the air
twanged on the hollow body of  itself …

It’s the tree that gives voice,
the fifty-foot windpipe, and the bird

is its voice box, the shuddering
membrane that troubles the space

inside, which otherwise would be
all whispers, scratch-and-scrabblings,

the low dry flute-mouth of wind
at its  just-right or just-wrong angle,

the cough-clearing of moss
or newly ripened rot falling in.

But the woodpecker picks the whole
wood up and shakes it, plays it

as his gamelan, with every sounding
pinged from every branch his instrument.

Or rather, it’s the one dead trunk,
the tree, that sings its dying, and this

is the quick of  it; red-black-white, the bird
in uniform, alert, upstanding to attention

is its attention, our attention, how the forest,
in this moment, looks up, knows itself.

I want to study this poem. So many amazing descriptions! I think I’ll print it out and add it to the poems I have displayed under the glass on my desk.

Gamelan (gam elan): an Indonesian orchestra primarily made up of percussion instruments such as gongs, xylophones, drums.

And that last line! “upstanding to attention/is its attention, our attention, how the forest, /in this moment, looks up, knows itself.”

dec 1/RUN

3.05 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, west/river road trail, south/42nd st, west/edmund, north
18 degrees/feels like 10

Colder today than yesterday, which was already pretty cold for most–and too cold for Scott. Love it! Less people, fresher air, a feeling of accomplishment from just getting out the door and braving the cold. Beautiful sun. Not warm, but giving the illusion of warmth and making the frost on the field at Cooper School look enchanted, almost like fairy dust or the aftermath of a glitter bomb.

Running down 32nd towards the river, I noticed a lone black glove on the sidewalk. Saw some people across the street and almost called out to them, “excuse me! did you drop a glove?” I didn’t. Why is the lone glove I see on the sidewalk always black? Do I just notice the black ones, or are most gloves that color? Have I ever seen any other color of glove left behind? I don’t think so. When (and if) I do, I will make a ridiculously big deal about it on this log, which makes me happy that I have been able to find delight and joy in such small things. Finding a blue (or red or pink) glove when I usually find a black one is enough for me.

Delight of the Day, or Today’s Reason for Joy

One: the river, again. Glowing, shimmering, flashing. The light didn’t bother me, but I could feel it reflecting off of my face.

Two: A male black-capped chickadee! I heard the feebee call this morning as I ran south. It was almost drowned out by all the crows, but I’m sure I heard it. Normally, I only notice these in the spring. Ever since I read that they sing all winter, I’ve been listening harder for them and today it paid off!

Anything else? Was able to keep plenty of distance between me and the few people out on the trail. Encountered only 1 bike. Again, no roller skiers.

layers

green shirt, pink jacket, gray jacket, 2 pairs of black running tights, 2 pairs of socks, pink headband, black baseball cap, hood, buff, 2 pairs of gloves

layers lost: buff started on my ears and mouth, ended around my neck, hood down, took off one pair of gloves during mile 2

What Things Want/ Robert Bly – 1926-

You have to let things
Occupy their own space.
This room is small,
But the green settee

Likes to be here.
The big marsh reeds,
Crowding out the slough,
Find the world good.

You have to let things
Be as they are.
Who knows which of us
Deserves the world more?

Love this poem by Minnesota poet Robert Bly and completely agree with the idea that “You have to let things/Be as they are.”

Almost forgot. I posted my Mood Rings chapbook on my writing site! Very proud of the work I have done with these poems.

nov 30/RUN

3.15 miles
turkey hollow
20 degrees/feels like 13

Much colder today, which is fine with me. I’m ready for some proper winter running.

layers I started with: hood, black cap, ear bands (a headband to cover my ears), pink jacket, black vest, green shirt, 2 pairs of running tights, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of gloves, a buff

layers I shed: hood, 1 pair of gloves

I encountered a few runners and walkers but we were all able to keep our distance. No fat tires or roller skiers. Heard the kids on the playground at Minnehaha Academy. Minnesota kids learn early how to handle the cold. Didn’t see any turkeys in turkey hollow. Don’t remember hearing any leaf blowers or chainsaws.

Listened to a playlist, mainly because I was trying to get a Christmas song out of my head that I heard when I turned on the radio this morning–the really dark new year’s eve one about when a famous singer returns to his home town encounters his first love at a grocery store and pity drinks a 6 pack with her in the car. Of course, now I have the song in my head again.

Delight of the Day

The river! Running south on the river road, suddenly I noticed it through the tall, slender tree trunks: bright, sparkling white. Or was it glowing or shimmering or flickering like the flame from a fire? Not just one spot, but the whole river. Wow. The brightness of it all didn’t bother me, even though light sensitivity is one of the symptoms of cone dystrophy. I’m not sure it completely fits, but the light on the river this morning reminded me of Danez Smith’s description of a frozen Minnesota lake in “I’m Going back to Minnesota Where Sadness Makes Sense”:

Have you ever stood on a frozen lake, California?
The sun above you, the snow & stalled sea—a field of mirror

all demanding to be the sun too, everything around you
is light & it’s gorgeous & if you stay too long it will kill you

& it’s so sad, you know? You’re the only warm thing for miles
& the only thing that can’t shine.

Would I call the sun this morning a mirror? I’m not sure but I love their description of the lake and everything but us being light and able to shine.

Other words for sparkle: gleam, glow, glint, glitter, glisten

Scrolling through my Safari reading list, looking for something else, I found this poem and cold mornings:

Cold Morning/ Eamon Grennan

Through an accidental crack in the curtain
I can see the eight o’clock light change from
charcoal to a faint gassy blue, inventing things

in the morning that has a thick skin of ice on it
as the water tank has, so nothing flows, all is bone,
telling its tale of how hard the night had to be

for any heart caught out in it, just flesh and blood
no match for the mindless chill that’s settled in,
a great stone bird, its wings stretched stiff

from the tip of Letter Hill to the cobbled bay, its gaze
glacial, its hook-and-scrabble claws fast clamped
on every window, its petrifying breath a cage

in which all the warmth we were is shivering.

Love the description of the morning light as gassy blue and the metaphor of the mindless chill as a great stone bird with the glacial gaze and breath that cages our warmth and leaves us shivering.

nov 29/BIKERUN

bike: 23 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 2.25 miles
treadmill, basement

Windy and dusty and chilly. After taking a walk with Delia and Scott earlier this morning, I decided to stay inside for a bike and run workout. It’s hard spending a lot of time on either the bike or the treadmill in the basement but it still felt good. So nice to move and listen to music and not worry about pandemics or soon to be ex presidents or allergies or clueless people refusing to be careful. Don’t remember thinking about much when I worked out. Maybe, if I run more in the basement this winter, I should work on memorizing and reciting more poems?

Here’s a poem from William Blake in honor of his 263rd birthday:

A Divine Image/ William Blake – 1757-1827

Cruelty has a Human heart
And Jealousy a Human Face,
Terror, the Human Form Divine,
And Secrecy, the Human Dress.

The Human Dress is forgéd Iron,
The Human Form, a fiery Forge,
The Human Face, a Furnace seal’d,
The Human Heart, its hungry Gorge.

I like this last line about the heart as a hungry gorge.

And another one:

The Fly/ William Blake – 1757-1827

Little fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath,
And the want
Of thought is death,

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

I remember poets.org posted this one the day after the vice presidential debate when Pence had the fly on his head. Ha ha. This one might be fun to memorize and try to recite while running on the treadmill.

nov 28/RUN

3 miles
neighborhood
36 degrees
COVID cases: 295,001 (MN)/ 13.1 million (US)
COVID deaths: 3,476 (MN)/ 264,977 (US)

More sun today. Very nice after the gloom even if it makes it harder to see other people. Thankfully, I hardly encountered anyone with my meandering sidewalk route. Very nice. Ran with my shadow for at least part of the time. Tried to go slower, but it was hard; I still went much faster in my second and third miles. Don’t remember hearing any roller skiers or seeing any fat tires. No big groups of runners or bikers or walkers. Never got close enough to see the river. No geese or turkeys or squirrels. I do remember hearing a runner calling out to someone about how it was a nice day for a run. Anything else? I smelled the smoke near Edmund and 38th. Is that coming from a chimney or fire pit in someone’s yard or the gorge?

Just heard on the radio that the high today is 54. Nice! I think I’ll sit on the deck or the front steps sometime today. Yesterday I sat on the front steps and heard a black capped chickadee. I’ll take these small delights in the midst of the scary news about uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

Praise Song for the Day/ ELIZABETH ALEXANDER

A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Oh this poem! “What if the mightiest word is love?” “love with no need to pre-empt grievance.” “today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air” “on the brink, on the brim, on the cusp”, and “we walk into that which we cannot yet see”.

nov 26/RUN

7K (4.3 miles)
franklin loop
34 degrees

For our annual Thanksgiving morning run, Scott and I decided to do the Franklin loop. On the way there, we stopped at his favorite spot right above the river road and the Franklin bridge. I was going to embed the photo from instagram but I can’t do that–what can’t I do that anymore? Oh well, here’s the link: Scott and Sara’s 7K

Things I Remember

  • mostly people who cared and who tried to keep distance, a few who did not–the people in the tunnel at Brackett Park, the runners who took over the narrow lake street bridge and barely moved
  • the soft, fuzzy (or furry?) browns of the leafless treeline, the pale blue of the river, the white sunless sky
  • yard signs: Dogs for Biden, Cats for Biden
  • discovering another street to take instead of the sometimes crowded path on the St. Paul side
  • easy relaxed run with a conversation–what did we talk about? Do I remember any of it? Not sure but that’s okay
  • running on the sidewalk by the fancy houses on the east river road
  • running by a less fancy house, hearing a noise, and playing one of my new favorite games: is it a … or a …? Today’s: is it a heater or a vacuum cleaner? Last week’s: is it a chainsaw or a leaf blower?

(from 27 nov) last night and this morning, I remembered a few more things from yesterday’s run I’d like to add:

  • running in the road to avoid people on the sidewalk, noticing the terrible condition of the asphalt. So many cracks and craters and dangerous divots!
  • the trees on the edge of the boulevard leaving precariously towards the street
  • at least 2 different groups of people thanking us for running in the street and giving them distance
  • a good omen: standing at Scott’s favorite spot on the hill above the river road near the franklin bridge, hearing the distinctive clicking and clacking of a roller skier’s ski poles
  • seeing (and counting) so many bright yellow shirts on bikers, one dark gray shirt with a thick horizontal yellow stripe
  • hearing about Scott’s idea for a meta Christmas song: structured like the 12 days of christmas, about the 12 things that must be in all christmas songs
  • admiring the majestic lion statues on pedestals–or, on plinths? I love the word plinth–in front of a equally majestic house, right above the public sidewalk
  • the house that was so big we couldn’t tell right away if it were a house or an apartment and that had a crappy plastic storage shed near one side

nov 25/RUN

2.5 miles (4K)
43rd ave, north/31st st the 32nd st, east/edmund, south/dowling, north/47th st, east
36 degrees

Ran with a playlist this morning and felt wonderfully disconnected from the world. Was able to keep a very safe distance from all of the people I encountered. Even over the song I was listening to, I could hear some geese flying above me. Looked up at the light gray sky but couldn’t see them. Saw two police vehicles with their lights flashing, doors open right above the old stone steps. What happened/was happening? I don’t remember seeing any roller skiers or fat tires or Daily Walker as I ran. I did see at least one dog and almost ran into a spazzy squirrel. Didn’t see the river or smell anything distinctive.

Running Surfaces

  • An undulating sidewalk–the result of tree roots breaking through past asphalt–unevenly resurfaced with concrete and asphalt
  • A muddy sidewalk
  • A road riddled with potholes and manholes and other types of holes
  • Still-green grass
  • Dead leaves
  • Packed dirt, sometimes a trail, sometimes a rut
  • Pine needles
  • Level sidewalks, slanting sidewalks leaning down to the gutter then the street
  • NO sandy grit or acorns or ice or snow or small pebbles or goose poop or chalked up sidewalks with social justice messages or pithy poems or widening cracks or loose gravel (all things I have run on at one time)

Looking at this is what I will be doing for the rest of the day and whenever I need to remember delight*

*the title of a new poem, or a line within it?

a Secretary Bird from twitter

It is very annoying that twitter will not let you embed photos anymore. This bird reminds me of an alphabet book my mom had when I was a kid–maybe I have it now as part of her children’s book collection that I inherited when she died? In this book, there is an image of a bird who is actually a pair of scissors, with the legs as the blades, the body as the handle. The bird looks like the one in this picture. What book is this? Am I misremembering? Will I be able to find out?

nov 24/RUN

2.5 miles
around the neighborhood + tunnel of trees
34 degrees
97% humidity

Dark, damp, deserted. Not desolate because I didn’t find it gloomy or bleak, just empty. Ran through the tunnel of trees, encountering only oneperson. I’m noticing that everyone is more careful lately; giving lots of space to others. On the way to the tunnel, noticed the old stone steps were blocked off for the winter. Even so, someone was running up them as I went by. Did they run back down them? It seemed like they might. Running west on 38th, I suddenly heard loud music off to my side–now I can’t remember what the song was even though I know it–which freaked me out: a person singing along with a radio, about to leave their house and turn onto the sidewalk. Glad they didn’t run into me–that scenario is a Covid nightmare for me.

Let the transition begin! So happy and relieved to hear the news last night that Biden can finally move forward.

nov 23/RUN

3.15 miles
turkey hollow
26 degrees

I was able to run by the gorge today! Sunny, calm, not too cold. What a wonderful morning to be outside! Watched the river come into view as I ran above the oak savanna. Admired the water glowing through the tall, leafless trees. Appreciated how the pedestrians I encountered kept their distance. Running by turkey hollow, I forgot to check for turkeys. Yesterday afternoon, when we drove by, RJP pointed them out. Were they there today? Not sure. Saw my shadow several times. When she was running ahead of me, her hands looked strange–maybe that was because my gloves were only partially on?

I don’t remember hearing any birds or music coming from radios or the clicking and clacking of ski poles. No dogs barking deep in the gorge or mysterious rustling in the brush. No gushing water–well, except for from the manhole at 38th and Edmund. No traffic or honking or loud conversations. No wind chimes or laughing kids. I do remember hearing a loud truck up above near the Ford Bridge, and a car approaching from somewhere behind me–on the river road or edmund? I heard some clanging and assumed, without being able to see, that the person on the other side of the boulevard was walking a dog. Near Folwell there was a lot of pounding and buzzing from a nail gun as workers repaired a roof.

The only other things I remember are thinking that this was run was wonderful and that my right knee was okay and that it was also hard and I would be glad when I reached the place where I could stop.

Phrases I Dislike that are Overused on Facebook and Twitter

A few weeks ago, I started a list of phrases that people use on social media that irritate me. Since I added one more this morning, I thought I’d post them here:

  • Louder for the people in the back
  • Thank you for attending my TED talk
  • I was today years old when…
  • I don’t know who needs to hear this but …
  • chef’s kiss
  • Starting the tweet with “welp!”
  • People who, when responding to a tweet that asks, “What are you reading this week?” respond: “this tweet”

Just had a thought about this last one. My first reaction when I encounter the response, “this tweet,” is: do you really think this is clever or that a dozen other people haven’t already said this? But what if the person who tweets this knows it’s stupid and has just decided that it is necessary for at least one person to always tweet this, that the thread is not complete unless this tired joke has been made and that they are the person who must always do it. There’s a story there, I think, or at least a character detail or an aside to a story.

nov 19/RUN

4 miles (1 with FWA, 3 by myself)
river road trail + turkey hollow
46 degrees

FWA had to run for online gym class this morning, so we went out together. Yes! I always enjoy getting to run with him even if we do more walking than running. As we ran + walked, we smelled a lot of things: meat, soap, almost burnt toast, thawing half-mulched leaves. FWA recounted a childhood memory of tasting blueberry syrup and hating it so much that we never wanted to return to the restaurant where he tried it. I’m not sure I’ve ever tasted blueberry syrup but I imagine it’s gross. After dropping FWA back off at home, I went out for another run. We had run north, to I went south. Such a wonderful time to be running above the river! All the leaves gone, so much view! Hardly any wind, some sun. No ice, not too many people. For most of my run, I listened to the sounds around me but for the last mile I turned on a playlist and tuned everything else out.

For a short stretch of time after the election, I enjoyed checking the news. Now, it’s time to avoid it again. I believe in December when the electoral college meets, this will all be worked out. Until then I can’t get sucked into the daily shit show of contesting results, lawsuits, threats of violence, etc. Instead, I’ll spend more time by the gorge and with poems like this:

In the Evening/ William Reichard

The night air is filled
with the scent of apples,
and the moon is nearly full.

In the next room, Jim
is reading; a small cat sleeps
in the crook of his arm.

The night singers are loud,
proclaiming themselves
every evening until they run

out of nights and die in
the cold, or burrow down into
the mud to dream away the winter.

My office is awash in books
and photographs, and the sepia/pink
sunset stains all its light touches.

I’ve never been a good traveler,
but there are days, like this one,
when I’d pay anything to be in

another country, or standing on
the cold, grey moon, staring back
at the disaster we call our world.

We crave change, but
turn away from it.
We drown in contradictions.

Tonight, I’ll sleep
blanketed in moonlight.
In my dreams, I’ll have

nothing to say about anything
important. I’ll simply live my life,
and let the night singers live theirs,

until all of us are gone.
I won’t say a word, and let
silence speak in my stead.

I like the simple, graceful form of this poem, how it flows, and how it captures and expresses so many contradictions. I’d like to try out this form in some poem about the gorge.

nov 18/RUN

3.15 miles
43rd ave, north/lake street, west + bridge/edmund, south/37th st, west
39 degrees
wind: 14 mph (26 mph gusts)
COVID-19 cases: 236,949 (MN) 11,369,504 (US)
COVID-19 deaths: 2,943 (MN) 248,824 (US)*

*I haven’t put up the COVID numbers since spring. Scary how much they’ve grown and how much illness/death we get used to

A little warmer today so only one long-sleeved shirt and a vest + tights and a headband covering my ears. The right number of layers. Ran to lake street and didn’t encounter a single pedestrian–was it the wind? the alarming escalation of covid cases? Ran onto the lake street bridge and admired the beautifully blueish gray river with the snowy banks and bare branches. Wow, what a calming wonderful view! Made it halfway and decided, after seeing some people up ahead that I didn’t want to encounter on this narrow bridge and battling too hard with the wind and my cap that wanted to fly away, that I would turn around. Ran through the parking lot of Minnehaha Academy–a full lot of students and teachers–and past the aspen eyes. One of them was watching me. Smelled the longfellow grill, which didn’t make me hungry, breakfast food hardly ever does. Felt like I was running into the wind almost every direction I went. Thought about nothing and everything. I think I saw the Daily Walker at the end of my run, but I wasn’t sure and he was up ahead so I didn’t want to yell out and startle him.

Encountered this moving poem on twitter yesterday by Katie Farris. She wrote one of my favorite green poems–What Would Root. So sad to read a few months ago that she has breast cancer. What a poem!

In the Event of My Death/ Katie Farris

What used to be
a rope descending
my vertebrae to the basement
of my spine
grows thin.

In solidarity with my chemotherapy,
our cat leaves her whiskers on
the hardwood floor,
and I gather them, each pure white parenthesis
and plant them
in the throat of the earth.

In quarantine,
I learned to trim your barbarian
hair. Now it stands always on end:
a salute to my superior barbary skills. In the event
of my death, promise you will find my heavy braid
and bury it–

I will need a rope
to let me down into the earth.
I’ve hidden others
strategically around the globe, a net
to catch my body
in the wearing.

The rope descending to the basement of the spine, the pure white parenthesis of a cat’s whiskers, the throat of the earth, the ropes buried around the world to offer a way down into the earth. Wow.

Current COVID mood: some hope (over vaccines and a new president soon) mixed with fear (terrifying increase in number of cases) and anger/disgust (over assholes not taking this virus seriously).

nov 16/RUN

3.15 miles
river road trail, south/42nd st, west/edmund, north/32nd st, west/43rd ave, south
32 degrees

Noticed the river this morning. A grayish brown. The sky mostly gray with some sun coming through the clouds. I saw my shadow running ahead of me a few times. Encountered some other runners but everyone was keeping close to their side of the trail. A good run!

Sounds

  • A small wood chipper, sadly yet valiantly attempting to break down big branches in someone’s yard on Folwell
  • The cracking, crackling, creaking caw of a crow. Running right below it, it’s caw sounded loud and immediate and broken. Not sure if I’ve ever heard a scratchy caw like that before
  • The gentle hum and whirr of car wheels on the river road
  • My feet striking the cold pavement. A thud, or was it a thump or a thwack?
  • The sibilant shshshsh of my feet on some debris on the street
  • The clang of a dog collar, almost sounding like sleigh bells. Maybe it was a collar with bells?

Just remembered: Running on Edmund, suddenly the sun appeared, all bright and warm, and some birds began to sing, and my shadow joined me, and it felt like spring until I smelled smoke from someone’s chimney and then it felt like January or February.

Wrote in my journal this morning that I spent the first (almost) six months of the pandemic memorizing and reciting poems and the last (almost) three months writing poems. Now that I’m almost done with my mood ring series, I might return to memorizing poems. I think I will have a rough couple of days once this project is done–feeling lost and in need of something new.

Found a list of fun words to say on twitter. A few I especially like: dictaphone, defenestrate, oblong, windpipe, and asphalt. When my kids were young, as a joke, I told them it was butt-phalt instead of asphalt. Every so often RJP brings it up again. Other words I like? Hards gs: Gorge, gorgeous, gallant or hard cs: cantankerous, cacophony, caterwaul and ms: mystery, miasma, myopic or this word: epiglottis

nov 15/RUN

3.2 miles
river road trail, south/edmund, north
33 degrees/ feels like 20
wind: 17 mph (30 mph gusts)

Blustery this morning. Pale gray sky. Clear path. More people than I expected but not too many. Looking out for others, I forgot to check on the river. Was it blueish gray? Don’t remember hearing any birds or seeing any geese. No dogs or fat tires. I can’t remember thinking about anything except the wind and the random patches of ice on neighborhood sidewalks. Sitting here, writing this at my desk in the front room, I can hear the wind howling. Did I hear it while I was running? I’m not sure.

Thinking about the wind, decided to google “Emily Dickinson wind”. Here’s what I found:

Wind/ Emily Dickinson

Of all the sounds despatched abroad,
There’s not a charge to me
Like that old measure in the boughs,
That phraseless melody

The wind does, working like a hand
Whose fingers brush the sky,
Then quiver down, with tufts of tune
Permitted gods and me.

When winds go round and round in bands,
And thrum upon the door,
And birds take places overhead,
To bear them orchestra,

I crave him grace, of summer boughs,
If such an outcast be,
He never heard that fleshless chant
Rise solemn in the tree,

As if some caravan of sound
On deserts, in the sky,
Had broken rank,
Then knit, and passed
In seamless company.

I love her descriptions of the sound of wind as “old measure in the boughs,” “phraseless melody,” “tuftless tune,” and “fleshless chant.” I think fleshless chant is my favorite. Oh, and I really like the verb thrum. I need to use that in something.

mood: relentless

Working on my mood ring poem about the mood relentless, trying to figure out the last line for the inner ring/scotoma poem. Here’s what I have:

Ten thousand years ago water from melting glaciers began to wear down limestone to form a gorge. Thirty years ago cone cells in my macula began to malfunction to form a scotoma. I am both limestone and water. As I dissolve my slow steady flow carves out a new landscape.

Now I’m wondering if I should use “geography” instead of landscape? Landscape seems more visual than geography–and passive, with the land like a background. Yes, I think I like geography.

As I dissolve my slow steady flow carves out a new geography.

nov 13/RUN

2.6 miles
river road path, south/42nd st, west/edmund, north
19 degrees/ feels like 10
50-100% snow and ice covered

A bit of an ice rink out there today but I didn’t care. I didn’t slip or fall or twist anything. Felt great to breathe in fresh air and run with my shadow. Such wonderful sun! The river was glowing through the tall, bare trees. Encountered at least one fat tire, a few runners and walkers. No cross country skiers or squirrels or dogs. No geese in the sky or snow plows on the path. Was greeted with a “Good morning!” by a runner on the road.

As predicted, the virus is very bad. 7000 cases in Minnesota just yesterday. Mostly, I’m okay. Staying inside unless I’m out by the gorge for a run. I haven’t been in a store for 8 months and the only public buildings I’ve entered are a few rest areas. It’s strange how it feels both normal and not normal at the same time.

Just revisited one of my favorite November poems by Lucy Larcom. Love this verse:

This is the month of sunrise skies  
      Intense with molten mist and flame;  
Out of the purple deeps arrive  
      Colors no painter yet could name: 
Gold-lilies and the cardinal-flower  
Were pale against this gorgeous hour.

Yes! Yesterday I witnessed the most amazing sunrise. Opening the curtains, I exclaimed, “Oh!” as I encountered a bright pinky orange sky. It only lasted a minute or two but Wow! what a beautiful view.

nov 12/RUN

3.2 miles
river road path, north/river road, path, south/32nd st, west/43rd ave, south
29 degrees
5% snow-covered

Winter running! I love the cold air, the snowy gorge. Encountered a few irritating runners who refused to move over to the other side of the trail. Had to run in the snow to avoid them. Are they really comfortable running that close to someone else, especially as we enter another, even scarier phase of the pandemic? I don’t get it. But, these two runners were such a small part of the run. The rest was wonderful. The sky was grayish-white which made everything seem other-worldly or at least at a distance from this world. Quiet and calm and empty, uncluttered.

Things I Remember

  • The overpowering and mostly unwelcome smell of pork–bacon? sausage?–wafting down from the Longfellow Grill as I ran under the lake street bridge
  • Voices down in the gorge, near the rowing club. Were they rowing in the water? On the shore? I couldn’t tell
  • The crunch-cracking of feet striking hard shards of super packed and icy snow. The same sounds even louder as tires drove over the icy snow
  • A wedge of geese–4 or 5–flying high in the gray sky
  • Some yellowish-brown leaves still on a few of the branches in the tunnel of trees
  • So many cars on the river road

As I ran, I thought about my latest mood ring poem. Relentless. Some lines popped in my head: “I am not the river but the limestone…” and “I am not the limestone but the river” and “I am both the limestone and the river.” Thinking about how the relentlessness comes both from me as I try to make sense of my vision loss and write about it and from the erosion of cone cells as they continue to destroy my central vision.

Encountered a poem this morning that I liked a little with one reading, then liked a lot after reading the poet’s explanation of it.

A Rogue Dream/ Melanie Figg

after Olivia Gatwood

I get ready for my first day as the new girl in high school
already knowing what not to wear. I dress perfectly
to stand out and disappear. I know how to put on
makeup, and I do it exactly right. My hair
looks awesome, of course! I step onto the bus,
pause by the driver, raise my arms like a superstar,
and meet the eyes of my adoring audience.
Three different beautiful girls punch
each other in the face to have me sit next to them.
I decline and the school’s most lovely, artsy boy
slides over to make room. He knows his feelings
and only goes too far
when he honestly misunderstands. He’s one of the safer ones.

I walk down the halls and no one makes fun of me.
I pass the section of lockers where her locker is, and
she is there, taking a book out of her backpack.
She’ll go running this weekend, as usual, and won’t
be followed. The man who won’t be following
her has already followed half a dozen women
to rape and kill and leave in the woods. But she won’t be
followed. She’ll survive her fate this time, and come back

to school on Monday, avoid the mean girls in the bathroom.
She’ll pick on the new girl, call her a virgin of all things.
She’ll limp her way through math, cheat a bit in science,
do pretty good in history and English. She’ll graduate,
and go to the state school on a track scholarship. She’ll
have two girls and keep them safe. She’ll almost forget

about this other ending: her in the woods near her house,
staring at the ground beneath her, wondering why.

This line! “Three different beautiful girls punch/each other in the face to have me sit next to them.” And the ending with the reimagining of the girl as not being followed. Wow.

nov 11/RUN

2.2 miles
river road trail, south/42nd st, west/43rd ave, north
32 degrees
50% snow-covered

We got about 5 inches of snow last night. Beautiful. As it fell, I opened the door and breathed in the cold, fresh air and absorbed the quiet calm. This morning, the trail by the river was cleared and bare, but there were people on the path who I couldn’t avoid unless I jumped in the snow banks. How much will I run outside this winter? Probably not as much as last year, unless I start running earlier in the morning.

A few things I remember

  • The river was not white but blue
  • The path was clear and so were many of the sidewalks. A few stretches were covered in powdery, soft, weightless white flakes, and a few others were studded with clumps of pressed down snow
  • Don’t remember hearing any crunching or compacting of snow
  • Ran under at least two snow-laden evergreen branches. Briefly wondered if they might decide to give me a shower (they didn’t)
  • Don’t remember hearing any birds. No geese or bluejays or cardinals or crows
  • Saw a fat tire biking in the snow-covered street
  • The streets were striped from where tires had pressed down the snow. No city plows yet. Not too bad to run on and it made a cool visual effect–strips of black pavement mixed with strips of white snow

mood ring: relentness

Working on another mood ring poem and thinking about repeated habits, the slow and gradual erosion of my central vision, the dissolving and/or reforming of the self in new ways, my persistence in finding better ways to make sense of and communicate my experiences, my unflagging desire to craft poetry out of how I try to be when I cannot see or when I see in new ways. I’ve decided the best word to describe this is relentless. I’m also thinking a compelling metaphor for it is the gorge and the slow (but not that slow, really) erosion of the limestone that created (and continues to create) it. Here’s some facts to remember and use:

carving of the gorge

12,000 years ago the falls were formed when glaciers melted. They were originally in St. Paul, but traveled upstream to downtown Minneapolis–traveling about 10 miles at a rate of 4 feet per year. 3,828 years ago the falls were near the railroad trestle. The falls stabilized/stopped moving in 1870.

Sources: NPS and FMR

I’d like to review my information on the current eroding of the gorge and think about that in relation to this mood too.

nov 10/RUN

3.2 miles
turkey hollow
31 degrees

Yes! Love this weather for running. Just around freezing, overcast, not too windy. Ran above the river on the trail. Why can’t I remember what the river looked like? Did I forgot to check? Not sure. I remember glancing at the oak savanna and the Winchell trail as it climbs just slightly up to 38th, changing from dirt to asphalt. I remember looking at the sky above the gorge and the other side as I ran by the inviting bench between Folwell and 42nd. I remember noticing how the steps down from 38th were already closed off and that the paved trail below was bare. But I don’t remember the river. It must have been grayish blue. Today we might get half a foot of snow. Will the river be covered in white tomorrow?

The turkeys were in the same yard that they had been in the last time I saw them, doing the same things: munching on something and performing a part run, part trot, part bob to get away from me as I neared. Nice. I love their awkward grace.

I don’t remember thinking about much, which is nice. The joy from last week’s election results has worn off as the refusal to concede continues. Social media doom scrolling returns and so does the need to be much more deliberate about managing anxiety and avoiding media. This week is all about distraction, I think. And shoveling and continuing to work on my mood ring poems and memorizing a few poems?

Speaking of my mood ring poems, I’ve noticed that I used certainty/uncertainty (too?) often. What are some other words I could use?

  • stable/destabilized
  • faith/doubt
  • convinced/unconvinced
  • known/unknown
  • indisputable/in doubt, questionable
  • assuredly/without assurance
  • clear/unclear
  • definite/indeterminate
  • sure/unsure

As I write this at my front desk, the snow has started. This snow seems like it might stick around. Will the grass stay gone? Here’s one of my favorite poems about eagerly anticipating winter. I’ve posted it several times on this log but I always like remembering it:

Fall, leaves, fall/ EMILY BRONTË

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

As I’ve said before, I don’t like misery and dreary days. Just leafless trees, bare branches, crunching snow, and cold clear air.

nov 9/RUN

3.2 miles
river road trail, south/edmund, north/32nd st, west
64 degrees

Very gray this morning, which didn’t bother me. Everything looked solemn, calm, expectant. Rain coming in a few hours then a big drop in the temperature. Maybe a few inches of snow tomorrow. Goodbye unusually mild fall weather, hello winter. Yes! Wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt and was still warm. I could feel that my face was bright red. Heading south straight into the wind at the beginning of my run, I admired the river. Such a nice blueish gray. Saw something flying in the air–was it a small bird or a leaf? I couldn’t tell. Too many cars on the river road but not too many people.

[added in several hours later] I almost forgot. I saw a dead animal on the road, right on the edge. No blood, no mangled body. It looked like it was sleeping. Running, I noticed something unusual in the road. I turned to look back at it, almost veering into the fence on the edge of the gorge. I think it was raccoon.

[added in even later] Forgot this too: Scott and I watching all the seasons of Community (again). This morning I had this song in my head:

“Come on I’m Dean/and my hands are so clean/at this moment/I am stapling”

I chanted it several times as I ran until I forgot about it.

Thinking about bewilderment as I work on a mood ring poem. Really appreciate this passage from Fanny Howe:

There is a muslim prayer that says, “Lord, increase my bewilderment,” and this prayer is also mine and the strange Whoever who goes under the name of “I” in my poems–and under multiple names in my fiction–where error, errancy and bewilderment are the main forces that signal a story. 

error, errancy, and bewilderment

I also like this passage:

In the Dictionary, to bewilder is “to cause to lose one’s sense of where one is.”
The wilderness as metaphor is in this case not evocative enough because causing a complete failure in the magnet, the compass, the scale, the stars and the movement of the rivers is more than getting lost in the woods.  
Bewilderment is an enchantment that follows a complete collapse of reference and reconcilability.  
It cracks open the dialectic and sees myriads all at once.

nov 8/RUN

3 miles
around the neighborhood
58 degrees

BIDEN DEFEATS TRUMP! Such a wonderful, needed headline. Sitting upstairs at my desk, working on my poem in the late morning yesterday, Scott called out, “He did it” or “It’s over” or “He won,” I can’t remember which. I started walking down the stairs, stopped, then began to cry. So much relief and joy. It will take weeks for all the fear and despair to leak out, I think. I recognize this is not the end of all that, just the beginning of a renewed hope in the world and the belief that we can avoid the darkest timeline.

Very windy and warm this morning. Noticed my shadow a few times. She’s very excited about Biden and Harris (Harris!) winning too–I could see it in how she held her frame as she ran. Listened to a playlist and felt happy to be outside moving. I wore shorts. I might be able to do that again tomorrow, but after that it’s running tights. We might get snow on Tuesday.

Admired the sparkling river as I ran above on Edmund. I can’t wait until I can run by the river again without worrying about getting too close to people. Next spring?

Scrolling through twitter, one of my favorite poetry people just tweeted: An open gate. Love it! Possibility…not guaranteed, but a chance to enter a new world, a new era, somewhere other than where we’ve been for the past 4 years. Reminds me of a poem I memorized this summer (and have already almost forgotten, sadly…I’ll have to review it a few times):

The Gate/ MARIE HOWE

I had no idea that the gate I would step through
to finally enter this world

would be the space my brother’s body made. He was
a little taller than me: a young man

but grown, himself by then,
done at twenty-eight, having folded every sheet,

rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold
and running water.

This is what you have been waiting for, he used to say to me.
And I’d say, What?

And he’d say, This—holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich.
And I’d say, What?

nov 6/RUN

2.85 miles
43rd ave, north/ 32nd st, east/edmund, south/42nd st, west/43rd ave, north
60 degrees

Overdressed this morning. Almost 60 degrees! Didn’t realize it and wore tights under my shorts and a sweatshirt. I like this warmer weather, but I’m ready for 30s and 40s. Much better running!

Woke up in the middle of the night with restless legs, checked my phone, and saw that Biden is now winning Georgia. Go Georgia and Stacey Abrams! Very proud of the state I lived in for 3 years. Very happy for my grad school friends still living there. The election could be decided today.

My run was harder. My heart rate higher, pace slower. Is it the warmer weather or an injury–or maybe all the stress from the election and the pandemic? Do I remember much from my run? Last night, walking on the grass between the river road and Edmund, Scott and I heard the drumming of a woodpecker. Deep, hollow. Probably a pileated woodpecker. I don’t remember hearing any birds this morning. The only thing I remember hearing is some biker yelling out, “It’s not going to be a landslide.” No geese honking or roller skiers clickity-clacking or music blasting from bike speakers. No leaf blowers or car horns or helicopters.

the best moment of the run

Running at the highest point on Edmund, above the tunnel of trees and the floodplain forest, I could see the river sparkling brightly through the bare trees. Wow! I admired it until it disappeared. I wanted to go closer and run above the river but with the warmer weather, there were too many people on the trail.

nov 5/RUN

2 miles
cooper school loop
60 degrees

Still waiting for the results of the election. Stressful. Feeling the panic simmering just beneath the surface. Slight tightness in chest, deeper breaths needed. Feeling hopeful and scared and impatient.

A beautiful day for a run. Maybe a little warmer than I’d like but sunny and calm. I wore shorts. I don’t remember looking at my shadow as I ran–was she there?–north on Edmund up to 32nd. Lots of people out walking and running. Did a loop around Cooper School. Heard some kids playing on the playground.

geese!

I don’t remember any geese on my run today but I do remember first hearing then seeing 2 different groups of geese flying fast through the sky. So fast! And pretty low in the sky too. I wonder if they were offering a warning about next week’s colder weather?

look at that bird high in the sky!

Walking home after finishing my run I noticed a speck out of the corner of my eye. Something moving high in the sky. At first I couldn’t see it because it was in my central blind spot. I kept trying to spot it my periphery. Suddenly it appeared. I could even see the wings moving. How was I able to see it? Did my brain finally guess correctly or did the bird move into an undamaged part of my central vision? Vision is so strange and fascinating.

Mood Ring: Bewilderment

I’m working on another mood ring poem. After trying to find the best word to describe it I have decided on bewilderment. Here’s a line that I want to use somehow from Mary Ruefle:

The difference between myself and my student is that I am better at not knowing what I am doing.

Not knowing what I’m doing or seeing is a constant experience for me. Learning how to deal with that disorientation, discomfort, uncertainty is a big goal. It used to be central to my pedagogy in the classroom, now it’s central to my daily life.

nov 4/RUN

2 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, north/37th st, west
60 degrees

Added a little more distance to my run this late morning. Legs are feeling okay, although everything seems slightly harder. Is it sore legs or anxiety over the still undecided election? I have not checked any news or social media this morning; I’m relying on Scott to tell me good news or when it’s all over. Trying to stay hopeful and prepare for the worst. In situations like this, I retreat.

When I took Delia on a walk, it was very still. I remember hearing only a few intermittent bird calls. Later when I ran, especially on Edmund, I heard all sorts of birds calling and singing. Also heard several rakes scraping against the sidewalk, a few violins and cellos or violas practicing outside, some leaf blowers whining, joyful kids at the playground near Cooper Field laughing and yelling, a dog’s collar clanging.

As I noticed my shadow running in front of me, I thought about the first lines from Black Cat by Rilke that I memorized this morning:

A ghost, although invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing;

Thought about another mood ring poem. This one, about feeling like a ghost, a shadow. Fading, faded. Unmoored, floating in the world. Ephemeral. Unable to see concretely, or feel like anything around me is solid. It all shifts–or does it echo endlessly–the trace of something that once was there, but isn’t any longer? I feel this way a lot when I’m running but also when I’m walking. This floating, dreamy feeling can be cool to experience but it can also be disorienting, unsettling. Too difficult to find solid ground.

nov 3/RUN

1.5 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south
45 degrees

Last week I felt some pain in my lower pelvic bone. Very slight but I’m not taking any chances as I try finally (after 3 past attempts) to run 1000 miles in a year. I think it’s a very early/mild case of osteitis pubic. The treatment? Nothing but rest. So I didn’t run on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. Today I decided to try a short run. Went for a mile and a half before I felt a slight twinge. No worries. I stopped, happy to have had the chance to run outside on this beautiful morning!

Listened to a playlist that I’m choosing to believe is a good omen for the election results. I hadn’t looked at any of the songs before I picked it; I just scrolled through my list and chose it randomly. It’s from 2014.

Playlist for a Better Tomorrow

  • I’m Going To Go Back There Someday/Gonzo
  • Don’t Dream It’s Over/ Crowded House
  • I Made It Through the Rain/ Barry Manilow
  • Another One Bites the Dust/ Queen
  • The Best of Times/ Styx
  • Gonna Fly Now/ Bill Conti

Since it’s November, here’s my favorite November poem. I am the crazy woman in November! (although it’s not quite fitting today because it’s sunny and warm; it might get up into the 60s today!)

The Crazy Woman by Gwendolyn Brooks

I shall not sing a May song.
A May song should be gay.
I’ll wait until November
And sing a song of gray.

I’ll wait until November
That is the time for me.
I’ll go out in the frosty dark
And sing most terribly.

And all the little people
Will stare at me and say,
“That is the Crazy Woman
Who would not sing in May.”

oct 30/RUN

3.25 miles
turkey hollow
31 degrees

I love this weather for running! Right around freezing. Not much wind. Clear paths. No rain or snow or ice. Ran south on the river road trail, listening to an audio book. Near 42nd, I heard a wedge of geese honking as they flew south to my right, and a playground of kids, yelling and laughing to my left. Which was louder? Not sure. Ran by those same kids again later as I ran north. So loud–there’s no way they were wearing masks and I doubt they were keeping distance from each other. Is that safe?

Ran past turkey hollow looking for the turkeys. All of sudden, there they were. 7 or 8 of them bunched together in someone’s yard. So close to me. They gobbled and started running a little as I passed by. Nice!

Admired the river again. A wide open view.

The Friday before the election. Woke up this morning and made the mistake of scrolling through twitter and finding some tweets about how violent it might get if Trump loses. How worried should I be about this?

Thankfully twitter isn’t all bad. I only go on it because of the poetry people and all their posts about poems. Here’s one I found just now. I love the first stanza:

Black Cat/ Rainer Maria Rilke – 1875-1926

A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:

just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.

She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them. But all at once

as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.

A ghost, though invisible, is still like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear

oct 29/RUN

3.2 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south/river road trail, south/edmund, north
33 degrees

A nice run on a windy, gray morning. Still a few patches of snow on the grass. Most of the leaves off the trees. Everything brown and golden and rusty red and burnt orange. I love this time of year. Late fall. Everything almost bare but not yet covered in snow. Clear views of the river. Noticed my favorite late fall view, just past the oak savanna. Beautiful. I don’t remember seeing any bikers, just walkers and runners and one roller skier getting ready to start skiing up the hill on Edmund. No dogs or squirrels or coyotes.

Running past a modern house on Edmund–the house that was built last year on the extra lot next to a huge traditional 1980s-style house that was on the market for over a year but didn’t sell because it was too big and outdated and expensive (asking over a million)–I noticed some loud noises and white powder or smoke or something coming from the garage. Then I ran by a truck with the words “concrete specialists” on it and I guessed they were doing something with concrete. Maybe a poured concrete countertop? I hope so. I’d like one of those.

Listened to an audio book–The Alchemist’s Daughter–so I didn’t think about much or hear hardly anything except the narrator. Briefly I thought about how dreamy everything looks, all fuzzy and out of focus as I run. Partly because of the light, partly the motion, but mostly my vision. I want to write about this as a mood–dreamy? fuzzy? blurry? I was thinking I’d like to incorporate the line from a Diane Seuss poem, “the world italicized.”

Only a few days until Halloween and then election. Can it please be over? Can we please start trusting science and doctors and thinking again? f

oct 27/RUN

3.2 miles
turkey hollow
17 degrees/ feels like 10

Coldest day of the season. Double tights + green shirt + orange sweatshirt + vest + buff + stocking cap. Sunny. I must have glanced at the river but I don’t remember what it looked like. Too busy trying to avoid other runners and walkers. A wonderful morning. I like (love?) this cold. Clears out the sinuses and keeps me from getting overheated. Running on Edmund, heading back home, I saw my shadow. It was nice to run with her. Thought about another mood ring poem: doubt. Had some ideas as I moved–something about how the doubt is related to the awe and the brain’s remarkable ability to enable me to keep seeing. It’s a relief but when I can still see I question whether my vision is really that bad. I doubt myself. I want to think more about doubt and what it means today. Here’s a poem to get me started.

My Doubt/ Jane Hirshfield – 1953-

I wake, doubt, beside you,
like a curtain half-open.

I dress doubting,
like a cup
undecided if it has been dropped.

I eat doubting,
work doubting,
go out to a dubious cafe with skeptical friends.

I go to sleep doubting myself,
as a herd of goats
sleep in a suddenly gone-quiet truck.

I dream you, doubt,
nightly—
for what is the meaning of dreaming
if not that all we are while inside it
is transient, amorphous, in question?

Left hand and right hand,
doubt, you are in me,
throwing a basketball, guiding my knife and my fork.
Left knee and right knee,
we run for a bus,
for a meeting that surely will end before we arrive.

I would like
to grow content in you, doubt,
as a double-hung window
settles obedient into its hidden pulleys and ropes.

I doubt I can do so:
your own counterweight governs my nights and my days.

As the knob of hung lead holds steady
the open mouth of a window,
you hold me,
my kneeling before you resistant, stubborn,
offering these furious praises
I can’t help but doubt you will ever be able to hear.

oct 26/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minutes
bike stand, basement

The first time biking since last April. Left my bike on the stand all summer, didn’t bike outside at all, partly because of the pandemic, partly because of my vision. My tires were totally flat. Started watching Enola Holmes. Not sure yet if I like it.

run: 1.75 miles
treadmill, basement

It wasn’t too cold or icy or windy outside but I felt like staying inside so I ran downstairs. Listened to a time capsule playlist on Spotify: She Don’t Use Jelly; Sabotage; Kiss; Freedom. If I would have kept going I could have also heard Cake’s I will Survive and Deee-Lite’s Groove is in the Heart. Oh well. Next time. I don’t remember thinking about much as I ran. My mind was shut off. I enjoyed the repetition and the movement and the absence of everything else.

For some reason, I’m feeling tired and unmotivated today. Maybe it’s because I’ve finished five mood ring poems and I’m not sure if I want to write anymore. I’m very happy with them. Sometime soon I’d like to write about the process of creating them.

oct 25/RUN

3.15 miles
turkey hollow
28 degrees
snow flurries

Another colder day with some snow flurries. Ran by turkey hollow. Forgot to check for turkeys. Distracted by a dog with its owner on the far sidewalk. I do remember wondering (again) where the turkeys go in the snow. Are they up in the trees? Listened to a playlist as I ran. Started on the trail right above the river but when I encountered some people, crossed over to the grass between the river road and edmund. Cold, hard, packed dirt with some snow in the ruts. Not too difficult to run on. Yesterday’s snow was wet and steady, today’s was intermittent flurries swirling in the wind and in my face as I ran north. Noticed at least one bike but no fat tires or roller skiers. No groups of runners. No peloton on the road. Anything else? Noticed that I had a clearer view of the Oak Savanna. I wonder if one of my favorite winter views is clear? It’s the spot where the hill in the Savanna slopes down and suddenly the river appears.

Surfaces I Ran On

  • clear sidewalk
  • cold, hard road–I could hear my feet loudly striking the pavement
  • yellow leaves slightly slick with snow
  • green leaves, thick and soft
  • rutted, hard dirt
  • brittle grass

Watching the Vuelta a España with Scott. Today Primož Roglič crapped out on the final climb and lost the red jersey. Bummer. So strange to be watching a bike race while it’s snowing. It looked very wet and cold for the cyclists as they climbed the mountains.

Here’s a poem I discovered this morning. So lovely with such quiet grace.

Beginning/ JAMES WRIGHT

The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.   
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
Now.
There they are, the moon’s young, trying
Their wings.
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow
Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone
Wholly, into the air.
I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe
Or move.
I listen.
The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,
And I lean toward mine.