feb 5/RUN

3.9 miles
river road, north/south
22 degrees / feels like 12
75% snow and ice-covered

Another good run. Not too cold, sunny. Near the beginning, I ran with my shadow. The road was slick in spots — that invisible ice that you can’t see, only feel. Greeted Mr. Morning! and a few runners. Noticed the river at the trestle. It was open in a few places just below. The open water wasn’t dark, but gray. Heard the drumming of a woodpecker, the screech of a blue jay, 2 quick caws on repeat from a crow, and countless chirp chirp chirps from some other birds. The path was slightly better, but still mostly uneven ice and snow. Maybe this week, as it climbs to the 30s, the rest of it will melt?

After I finished running, when I was walking home, I remembered that I had memorized the first sentence of Linda Pastan’s “Vertical.” I had intended to recite it in my head as I ran. I was too distracted by the path and forgot. Walking home, I whispered it into the cold air:

Perhaps the purpose
of leaves is to conceal
the verticality of trees
which we notice
in December
as if for the first time:
row after row
of dark forms
yearning upwards.

Last night I went to Moon Palace books and bought Linda Pastan’s last collection, Almost an Elegy. The rest of February will be dedicated to her and her words — reading them, memorizing them, being with them.

After the Snow/ Linda Pastan (from Insomnia)

I’m inside
a Japanese woodcut,

snow defining
every surface:

shadows
of tree limbs

like pages
of inked calligraphy,

one sparrow,
high on a branch,

brief as
a haiku.

Here
in the Maryland woods, far

from Kyoto
I enter Kyoto.

feb 4/RUN

4.3 miles
lake nokomis — one way
19 degrees / feels like 10
50% snow and ice-covered

Hooray for moving outside! Hooray for warmer air! Hooray for getting to run to Lake Nokomis! It felt good to be outside breathing in fresh air. My legs and lungs felt strong. At one point, I remember breathing in deeply through my nose, then out through my mouth and watching the frozen breath as it hovered in front of me.

layers:

  • 2 pairs black running tights
  • 1 bright yellow TC 10 mile racing shirt (2018)
  • 1 pink jacket with hood
  • 1 black winter vest
  • 1 pair of black gloves, 1 pair of pink and white striped gloves
  • 1 fleece lined cap with brim
  • a gray buff
  • 1 pair of socks

Only a few layers short of my most layered look. Maybe someday I’ll invest in an expensive running jacket and be able to wear less layers, but maybe not.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the call, but not the drumming, of a pileated woodpecker
  2. the path on the biking side of the pedestrian bridge had packed down snow that was uneven, but not too slick. It had little flecks of light brown — sand? grit? dirt that Minneapolis Parks put down to make it less slippery?
  3. a fat tire! I could hear the crunching of their wheels as they approached from behind. After they slowly passed me, they stopped just past the locks and dam #1. Why? To rest? To figure out where they were? To take a picture?
  4. a few days ago I mentioned hearing construction noises near the falls. Heard them again today. Pounding hammers at another new apartment building going up on the other side of Dairy Queen
  5. heard a high-pitched whine near all of the apartments; it was coming from a gas vent by the roundabout
  6. minnehaha creek was mostly frozen, with a few stretches of open water
  7. heard, but didn’t see, kids’ voices — yelling, laughing — somewhere on the creek
  8. more voices down by the dock, near the shore, at lake hiawatha
  9. noticed the creek water leading into the lake was not completely iced over
  10. there were stretches where the path was an inch of solid brown ice, but most of it was a combination of bare pavement, stained with salt, patches of packed snow and smooth ice

I don’t remember noticing anything particular delightful. I devoted a lot of attention to my effort, staying relaxed, and avoiding slippery spots.

I follow the Mary Oliver Bot on twitter and they posted a line from this beautiful poem:

The Moths/ Mary Oliver

There’s a kind of white moth, I don’t know
what kind, that glimmers
by mid-May 
in the forest, just 
as the pink mocassin flowers
are rising.

If you notice anything, 
it leads you to notice
more
and more.

And anyway
I was so full of energy.
I was always running around, looking
at this and that.

If I stopped 
the pain
was unbearable.

If I stopped and thought, maybe
the world
can’t be saved, 
the pain 
was unbearable.

Finally, I noticed enough.
All around me in the forest
the white moths floated.

How long do they live, fluttering
in and out of the shadows? 

You aren’t much, I said
one day to my reflection
in a green pond, 
and grinned.

The wings of the moths catch the sunlight
and burn
so brightly.

At night, sometimes, 
they slip between the pink lobes
of the moccasin flowers and lie there until dawn, 
motionless
in those dark halls of honey.

jan 31/RUN

3.5 miles
under the ford bridge and back
0 degrees / feels like -9
75% ice and snow-covered

Brrr. This isn’t the coldest run I’ve done this year, but it felt like it! Well, most of me was fine, just not my feet or my forehead. Running into the frigid wind, I got a brain freeze. A mile in, I had mostly warmed up. The path was in terrible shape. All uneven with long sheets of slick ice. I never worried about falling, but I got tired of moving all around the path trying to find bare patches.

I thought about Bernadette Mayer and her list of experiments, especially this one: “attempt writing in a state of mind that seems less congenial” (Please Add to This List, 12). Extreme cold + uneven, icy paths + lots of layers = less congenial. I wondered how these conditions affected what and how I noticed the gorge.

10+ Things I Noticed

  1. crunching snow, loud and brittle
  2. the smell of smoke from the usual chimney (the one on edmund that I always smell every winter)
  3. the river, half frozen, half open, all cold-looking
  4. the path, 1: almost completely covered in snow and ice
  5. the path, 2: the ice is flat and smooth and light brown
  6. the path, 3: an occasional bare strip, sometimes what I thought was bare was actually brownish grayish ice
  7. at least 2 other runners — we held up our hands in greeting
  8. 2 or 3 walkers — all bundled up, faces covered up to the eyes
  9. the buzzing of a chainsaw, laboring in the cold — workers trimming dead branches at Minnehaha Academy
  10. looking across the ravine from the double bridge, noticing someone dressed in dark colors walking along the retaining wall at the top of the overlook
  11. haunting wind chimes
  12. the sizzling of dead leaves on a neighbor’s tree
  13. the sharp scratch of another dead leaf as the wind blew it across the sidewalk

At the end of my run, walking back home, I marveled at the chattering birds, sounding like spring. I saw them, not their details, just their movements, fluttering, swooping, soaring, flashing. Then I heard the distinctive knocking of a woodpecker on some dead wood. Before I had a chance to enjoy the sound, the beep beep beep of truck backing up silenced the bird.

layers:

  • 2 pairs of black running tights
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • a green long-sleeved shirt
  • a pink jacket with hood
  • a thicker gray jacket
  • a gray buff
  • 1 pair of black gloves
  • 1 pair of pink/red/orange mittens, wool and fleece combo
  • a fleece-lined cap with brim
  • sunglasses

Lots of layers!

Oh, I needed this run! What a difference it makes for my mental health to get outside and move.

This morning, I happened upon this beautiful prose poem:

The Year We Fell in Love with Moss/ Sally Baker

We made our bed in its mounds and all our furniture was covered in mossy baize. We swam through velvet-lined tunnels, swagged ourselves in greenness all winter. It was the green of pond algae, the painted shed at the bottom of the old garden, kale, tourmaline, the needlecord skater’s dress I wore in 1979. It was the emerald brilliance of moray eels, of tree snails; pea soup green. We were moss creatures, felted deep in woods. It was the first plant on earth, at least four hundred and fifty million years old, its rhizoids like a forest of stars, rootless, absorbing moisture and minerals from rain, surviving in the harshest of climates. We became bryophyliacs, singing hymns in the sunken moss cathedrals, while light through the leaves flickered over us in waves, like signals, as if we’d been blessed. I believed moss could live forever. You told me about the Barghest who haunted the valley, could turn you to stone with a look.

I need to add this to my growing list of green poems!

jan 27/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
24 degrees / feels like 9
wind: 16 mph / path: 99% snow-covered

This run was both hard and easy, and I loved it. Hard because of the wind, often in my face, and the soft, slippery snow. Easy because it felt so good to be outside and moving through the wintery world.

Even with yak trax, the soft snow makes it harder for me to lift my legs. Today I felt it in my right knee — what I call the “OG” knee because it’s the one that first started giving me problems (my kneecap was slipping out of the groove) and that led to never doing the marathon. Every so often, a short sharp pang. Nothing too alarming, just enough to remind me that my body is still here, tethering me to the world. I started thinking about Thomas Gardner and something I wrote almost exactly (one day off) 6 years ago, right after I started writing in this blog:

My right calf is still a little stiff from where I strained it last week doing mile repeats in the cold. Just enough to not let me out of my body.

Poverty Creek Journal/ Thomas Gardner

I wrote: “Even as we try to transcend our bodies while running, we are constantly reminded of our limits. We are bodies. We need that reminder to ground us and to keep us from getting too lost in the dreamlike state that running creates (jan 26, 2017).

As I ran this morning, I thought about how I like that running outside in the winter tethers/connects me to my body. It’s impossible for me to get too lost in any dreamlike state, or any one thought or series of thoughts. The path, the wind, the cold always brings me back to my body. Sometimes, bringing me back to my body involves suffering and complaining, but more often it is about grounding me and helping me to stop overthinking things. Of course, these reflections only came in flashes that lasted less than a minute or two. When I’m running, I can’t hold onto thoughts for longer than that. Now, as I write this, I’m sure that I’m missing something else I was thinking while moving. It all made so much sense as flashes and feelings. Much harder to remember it and put it into words later!

10 Things I Noticed: Wind

  1. running south, the wind was in my face
  2. cold, but not brain-freeze cold
  3. strong, but not strong enough to shove me off the path
  4. I could hear it rushing through the dead leaves on the trees in the oak savanna — sizzling
  5. it stirred up an occasional dead leaf from the ground
  6. at one point, I felt the spray of water on my cheek — was that the wind blowing the snow? probably
  7. ahead of me on the trail, I could see something big-gish — was it a chunk of hard snow or ice? no, it was a branch with a few orange leaves on it. As I ran past it I was startled when the wind picked up and made it move slightly
  8. near the falls, I felt the wind from several directions — was it swirling, or was I winding, or both?
  9. no sledders enjoying the hill — is this because of the strong wind?
  10. the wind was not loud enough to roar, but it seemed to grumble non-stop for most of my run

Found this poem the other day when it showed up in my instagram feed. It’s from episode #799 for The Slowdown Show:

Fragment (Stone)/ Ann Lauterbach

                         What has a soul, or pain, to do with a stone? 
                                                                                               –Ludwig Wittgenstein

You could walk not far through the grass to the shed barefoot
restless eye landing on distance there not far you could walk
looking down at various grasses weeds clover along the way
your toes in the green the undersides of your feet the cool damp
where is significance you think as you imagine walking across
grass to the shed barefoot what counts here does anything count
on the short walk while looking down and then over then up
at the catbird in the lilac where there are now dry brown sprays
at the robin hopping in the grass over there what counts you ask
incredulous at the pace not your pace the pace of time as if
rolling downhill gathering speed wound around
itself like giant twine but invisible so not present
in the sense of seen the way you assign to the visible presence
even as what is on your mind as you walk across the grass toward
the shed is invisible names their persons hunger mistakes
the lost and the recently slaughtered because of words
believed by the hopeless lost from view tossed
into the past like a weed a rind a stone found in grass
so find solace in the particular single crow high in the dead ash
its one-note cry sky pale blue low light sliding across wires.

I was drawn to this poem because it reminded me of how I think and how I notice as I’m walking. Lots of wandering and words running together without a break. One thought into the next. From here to here to here.

jan 25/RUN

5.4 miles
bottom of the franklin hill and back
30 degrees / snowing
100% soft snow-covered

What a wonderful run! Even the soft, slippery snow couldn’t bother me. So difficult to move through, nothing solid or stable. Who cares? I got to run outside by the gorge when it was snowing! A soft, steady snow. A winter wonderland. The sky was a light gray, almost white. The river was a grayish brownish blue. I liked watching the headlights from the cars as they approached. The bright lights cutting through the gray — not gloomy, but monotonous.

At the start of my run, I smelled smoke from someone’s chimney.
I heard the birds chattering.
I felt my feet slipping on the soft, uneven ground.
I saw a walker up ahead on the road, waving their arms in an awkward rhythm.
Did I taste anything — a snowflake, maybe?

No fat tires or cross country skiers. A few sets of runners — or was it the same set seen twice? No honking horns from cars. Although I did hear some geese honking under the trestle. And I also heard the steady rush of cars moving across the 1-94 bridge.

At the end of my run, I heard the irritating screech of a blue jay. I wondered (and hope) that once I passed and the danger was over, I might hear the sharp, tin-whistle sound of a blue jay’s song. Nope.

In the middle of my run, after turning around at the bottom of the franklin hill and then running until I reached the bridge, I stopped to pull out my phone and record some thoughts and sounds:

jan 25 / halfway point

It’s difficult to pick up, but in the middle, when I stop talking and stop walking, you can hear the soft tinkle-tinkle of the snow hitting my jacket. In the moment, standing there, the sound was much louder and so delightful! Hearing it, then looking down at the still river and up at quiet gray sky and the bare branches, was magical.

I found this poem on twitter this morning. I decided to add it to my collection of dirt/dust/earth poems that I started during my monthly challenge last April. I also decided to add it here:

Return to Sender/ Matthew Olzman

To the topsoil and subsoil: returned.
To hums and blistered rock: returned.

To the kingdom of the masked chafer beetle,
the nematode and the root maggot: returned.

To the darkness were a solitary star-nosed mole
arranger her possessions and pulses

through a slow hallway, and to the vastness
where twenty-thousand garden ants compose

a tangled metropolis: returned.
it was summer, and they lowered

a body into the ground. I did not say
they lowered you into the ground.

It seemed like you were elsewhere, but the preacher
insisted: And now, he returns to the One who made him.

Most likely, he meant: God. But I thought
he meant the Earth, that immensity

where everything changes, buzzes, is alive again and —
Amen.

The poetry person who tweeted about this poem especially liked the twenty-thousand garden ants and the italics from the preacher. I like the possessions and pulses, the tangled metropolis, the separation between body and You, and the idea that the maker we return to (and are reborn in) is the Earth.

jan 23/RUN

4.1 miles
river road path, north/south
24 degrees
90% snow and ice-covered

More of the same very poor path conditions. Hard, rutted, uneven ice and snow. So hard to move through! My legs are sore again. Sore like I worked them, not like I injured them.Two days ago, it was one of the muscles in my right quads — looked it up and I think it was the rectus femoris. Today it’s my calves. I looked at the river — open, brown, cold. Ran north with no headphones, listening to the crunching of my yak trax on the crusty snow. Listened to Beyoncé’s Renaissance on the way back. Smelled fried food wafting down from Longfellow Grill. Ran past the port-a-potty under the lake street bridge, the door was wide open. Noticed a walker hiking up the road that leads down to the rowing club. Encountered 2 different runners with their dogs. One of the runners was extra cautious, stopping and holding their dog as I ran by. Anything else? Smelled some cigarette smoke.

Almost forget: it was snowing at the beginning of my run. I remember thinking the falling flakes looked like something flashing — what? I can’t remember now. All I remember was that the sky was falling and it was beautiful.

This morning, I found an amazing poetry project by Anna Swanson called “The Garbage Poems.” It’s a series of found poems composed of words taken from the trash she found at swimming holes. She has an interactive site for the poems where you can create your own garbage poems. You can also read her poems and click on each word to find which garbage it came from. How amazing! I’m very excited to have encountered her work. Not only are these poems amazing, but she has also written many others about wild swimming!

The Garbage Poems

jan 21/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
21 degrees
99% snow and ice-covered

A common refrain: if only the path hadn’t been so icy and snowy, this would have been a near-perfect run. Loved the temperature and the grayish-white sky. Loved feeling strong and capable. Loved being outside moving and not stuck in the house. The only problem was the path. Terrible. Uneven, hard, rutted, slippery. Wearing my yaktrax helped a little, but it was still difficult. About a mile in, my right thigh was sore — I think from the extra effort of picking it up off of the slippery path. Thought about turning around, but decided to keep going to the falls and back.

Was able to Good Morning! Mr. Morning! Also gave some directions to the falls — up the hill. Passed a lot of runners and walkers. Can’t remember in there were any bikers — oh, I saw someone biking ahead me on the road, both of us on our way to the river.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the cry of a pileated woodpecker
  2. a fine mist — was it barely snowing?
  3. a quick glance at the oak savanna — the split rail fence is sagging in one spot. I couldn’t tell for sure but I think the top 2 railings might have split
  4. a person standing in the snow near the part of the Winchell Trail that climbs out of the gorge for a few seconds near Folwell before dropping down again
  5. a woman walking a dog near the falls in a long light gray puffer coat that almost reached her ankles
  6. voices below — I stopped to look and saw someone walking closer to the bottom of the frozen falls
  7. 2 people standing above the falls, holding a phone high in front of them, taking a selfie
  8. off to my side, a leaning tree covered in white on one side
  9. at the start of the run, hearing a nail gun off in the distance — probably roofers
  10. 2 different times I encountered a walker wearing an orange backpack — 2 different times, 2 different walkers, 2 different backpacks, both orange

Did I see those orange backpacks? I believe I did, but I’ve been seeing a lot of orange lately. It’s one of the only colors that I notice these days. Strange.

Forgot to look at the river. I bet it was still brown.

jan 20/RUN

4.35 miles
river road trail, north/south
27 degrees
99% ice and snow-covered path, slick

Very slick outside today. A lot of ice covered with an inch or two of snow. That part of it wasn’t fun, but the rest of it — the cold air, the open river, the gray sky — was wonderful. Greeted Dave the Daily Walker. Passed Daddy Long Legs. Noticed all of the rusty orange leaves still on the trees near the tunnel of trees. Heard goose honks under the lake street bridge. Later, also heard some runner coughing as he crossed the bridge then turned down to enter the river road. No! Every few seconds, a deep cough, full of gunk. I sped up to try and stay ahead of him and his germs. It worked. For a few minutes, I kept hearing the jagged coughs, then it stopped.

Anything else? The river was brownish-gray, the sky sunless.
No headphones for most of the run. During the last mile, I put in an old coming-back-from-injury playlist: I heard “Upside Down” and “Fantastic Voyage.”

FWA is on band tour in Spain and France right now. 29 years ago, Scott and I were on our European band tour. 29 years ago? Wow. Very excited for FWA.

Sitting at my desk, writing this, I’m also looking outside my window at the robins running around on the snow and rooting in the hydrangea bushes for twigs? seeds? Quietly, they scamper then fly low right in front of me. What are they looking for?

Encountered a beautiful poem on twitter this morning that I thought I had already posted on my log but hadn’t.

A Stranger/ Saeed Jones

I wonder if my dead mother still thinks of me.
I know I don’t know her new name. I don’t know  

her, not now. I don’t know if “her” is the word
burning in a stranger’s mind when he sees my dead  

mother walking down the street in her bright black dress.
I wonder if he inhales the cigarette smoke  

that will eventually kill him and thinks “I wish I knew
a woman who was both the light and every shadow  

the light pierces.” I wonder if a passing glance at my dead
mother is enough to make a poet out of anyone. I wonder  

if I’m the song she hums as she waits for the light to change
or if I’m just the traffic signal holding her up.

This poem was posted as part of a thread. I want to post the next one, which is by Todd Dillard (one of my favorite poetry people). I like his introduction of the poem in a tweet:

I have so many poems also grieving my dead mother by giving her a kind of life after life.

Mom Hires a Stunt Double/ Todd Dillard

Sick of all the impossible I ask of her
in these my griefiest poems,

Mom hires a stunt double: same white hair,
same laugh, same false teeth, same dead.

Now when I write “Mom curls like rinds in a bowl”
it’s her stunt double twisting herself into pithy canoes.

When I write “At night my mother sheds
the skin of my mother revealing more mother”

it’s her stunt double that unzips her body,
stands there all shiver and muscle and tendon,

waiting for the next line. “What’s in it for you?”
I ask, and Mom’s stunt double shrugs,

lighting one of those familiar Turkish Silvers
as behind her my mother mounts a Harley

and barrels into the margins. “You’re a good kid,”
the double says. But she doesn’t touch my hair.

This close to her, her eyes are all pupil,
all ink. Her smell: paper and snow.

When she exhales smoke spills from her lips
and unfolds into horses.

Oh, I love both of these poems!

jan 15/RUN

4.25 miles
minnehaha falls and back
35 degrees
clear roads / 50% snow-covered trails / puddles

Another warmer day. The sidewalks on my block and on the way to the river are still covered in ice and slick snow. Hopefully the warm temperature today will melt more of it?! A wonderful run. Ran on the road until edmund ended, then on the trail to the falls. I don’t remember hearing the falls at all. Maybe it was because I was distracted by trying to avoid people. Didn’t look at the river again today. Why do I keep forgetting? I felt good and strong and relaxed, although my right kneecap was shifting around again.

At some point, I decided that I — my brain and my feet — find it more interesting to run on a trail with a little bit of grit or snow or something more than just flat, hard asphalt.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. Near 42nd, right after I crossed over from edmund, I saw the blur of a runner moving fast down the Winchell Trail. I hope they had yaktrak on because I bet it was super slippery down there!
  2. crossing over at 42nd involved scaling a wall of slippery snow — the crosswalk on the side I choose was blocked with snow and ice
  3. Heard the scrape scrape scrape of a shovel on a driveway or a sidewalk — rough, loud. A stubborn stretch of ice?
  4. A cross-country skier skiing on the snowy boulevard between edmund and the river road
  5. Smelled smoke from a chimney, but not at the usual spot. The smoke I smelled today was farther south
  6. the falls were crowded! A big bunch (10-15) of people were spread across the sidewalk
  7. running above the giant sledding hill I heard a kid sledding down. I could tell the hill was bumpy because their yell, which they kept going the entire way, was jagged and cut in and out
  8. a runner in black tights and a white jacket stopped near the double bridge in the middle of the trail
  9. Passing a very tall runner in a blue jacket — me: good morning! them: morning
  10. my shadow beside me and ahead of me — dark, well-defined on this bright blue day

My favorite things about the run were spotting the cross-country skier and hearing the kid yell as they sped down the hill. That yell — so joyful and comical to hear it break up, bump after bump. I started thinking about how you can use your other senses to get to know a place. In this case, hearing helped me to notice that the path was bumpy and steep (the kid’s yell went on for a while). I think I’ll mention this in my class. It also reminded me of a walk I took with Scott one fall. We were walking on the Winchell Trail under a lot of trees. Without even looking we could tell when the trees still had their leaves because the air suddenly became cooler.

jan 14/RUN

4.75 miles
edmund, north/river road trail, north/seabury, south/river road trail, south
26 degrees
snow/ice-covered 75% (path) 25% (road)

For the first time since Monday, I was able to run outside. Hooray! What a difference it makes — for how the run feels, how I feel after the run — to run outside above the gorge. I ran on the road for part of it to avoid the worst stretches of the trail. Lots of loosely packed, slippery snow. I wasn’t as worried about falling as I was about having all my energy drained from the effort of running through the snow. Because of the bad conditions, I stopped to walk a few times.

Ran north to the Franklin bridge with no headphones. Turned around and put in a playlist.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. some of the roads were bare, others were still covered in soft, slippery snow
  2. a walker ahead of me on edmund was wearing a bright orange jacket
  3. running north, the wind was at my back. Returning south, in my face — cold and stubborn
  4. the river road was thick with cars, a steady stream
  5. a few bikers, more walkers, some runners
  6. a runner in a blue jacket, carefully making his way down the icy path near franklin
  7. an orange sign, a porta potty, a few barricades off to the side: there must have been a race earlier today
  8. a congress of crows cawing furiously, the sound echoing through the alley
  9. the scrape of a shovel on a sidewalk somewhere
  10. heading up from below the lake street bridge, hearing the wind shaking the dead leaves on the oak trees, sounding almost like water dripping — or was it water dripping?

Things I Forgot to Notice, or Didn’t Notice

  1. the river — don’t remember looking at it even once
  2. no regulars — no Dave the Daily Walker or Mr. Morning! or Daddy Long Legs or Mr. Holiday
  3. no geese
  4. no woodpeckers
  5. no black-capped chickadees
  6. no fat tires
  7. no kids laughing and sledding
  8. no overheard conversations
  9. no darting squirrels
  10. no music blasting from cars or smart phone speakers

Scrolling through twitter, I happened upon this poem:

Letter from the Catskills/ David Eye

Cousin–When a dozen robins blew into the yard yesterday–
I’d never seen so many–I watched them hop, cock their heads,
grab the thaw’s first worms. Such a pleasure, those yam-
colored breast feathers. Then snow las night, enough
for a fine white pelt, mostly gone by midday. (You’re better
off doing your play in the City, till it warms up for good.)
I wonder if the snow melted or–what’s that word?–
sublimed. To go from solid to gas, skipping liquid altogether.
The way I’d like to die. Grocery-shopping last night, I swear
I felt like such a loser. Not a fully set of teeth in the house,
yet I’m the freak: 45, alone at the Liberty Shop-Rite. And a snob:
can you believe it took four people to help me find capers?
So many breakups. My sister got the only keeper. God, I love
those kids. I dream of children almost every night. Awake,
I’m a eunuch. New vocal warmup, repeat before you go on
tonight: “unique New York eunuch unique New York
eunuch….” Give your boy a squeeze. The robins are back.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about how poetry makes the familiar strange, but I think poetry can also make the strange familiar. Give us a door into the unfamiliar so we can get to know someone else and their experiences. The door in for me with this poem was all the robins. This past week, I saw so many fat robins on my crab apple tree, swaying and bobbing and getting drunk off the shriveled up apples.

a note about editing: I have a lot of typos in my writing. I didn’t used to. For years, that was a super power, being able to catch all the errors and to write a draft with hardly any mistakes. Now, I make lots of spelling errors (before I fixed it, I had spelled crab apple, CRAP apple), leave out articles and other secondary words, and for some reason, use an excessive amount of commas. I feel like I over-comma everything. Why? I think these errors and excessive commas are happening because I’m getting older, I’m writing more, the way spellcheck is set up with autocorrect is fucked up, and my declining vision. I think my declining vision is probably the biggest culprit. It’s frustrating and irritating and humbling to confront a decline like this, but I’m working on reframing it. Less of a decline, more of a shift to new practices and less worrying about stupid typos that don’t really matter. Maybe I’ll write a poem about it?