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 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 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 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.

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 24/RUN

3.15 miles
river road trail, south/edmund, north/32nd st, west/43rd ave, south
28 degrees/ feels like 24

This weather! My favorite. Not much wind. Clear sky, clear path. Just below freezing. So much easier to breathe. I felt tired this morning and wasn’t sure if I should run or not. So glad I did. Noticed the river today; clear but no sheets of ice yet. Smelled smoke from a fireplace and some hot chocolate. Saw a fat tire heading down to the Winchell Trail, a roller skier who didn’t move over far enough (or at all) on the upper trail. Most of the leaves are off of the trees in the boulevard. Heard some kids playing at the playground by Cooper School. Admired some bright yellow leaves as I ran over them in the street. Anything else? Didn’t hear any geese or crows. No near collisions with spazzy squirrels. No dogs or large groups of runners or loud talkers.

Thinking more about my latest mood ring poem and what name to give it. Initially it was acceptance, then persistence. I mentioned resilience to Scott and he liked it. I’m thinking about the last line of the inner poem: ” Hear the water slowly seep through the limestone down to the river.” I see myself as the water, not the limestone. Not slowly being worn away until I no longer exist but continuing to find a way to the river, no matter what obstacle is in my way. This seems more like persistence than resilience but I’m not sure. I looked it up in the online OED and found this helpful definition:

5. The quality or fact of being able to recover quickly or easily from, or resist being affected by, a misfortune, shock, illness, etc.; robustness; adaptability.

The image of the water eroding the limestone doesn’t seem to fit here. I think it would be better if I used another gorge image: the vegetation that perpetually finds a way to poke through fence slats or bust through asphalt. Yes, I like this better.

Returning to my discussion of limestone, I claimed that I see myself more like water than the limestone. Not always, and that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes I’d like to be the limestone. The eroding of limestone could be like the losing of the self (hubris, worries, being overly attached to status and material things, fear of death, false beliefs in control and invincibility). Not sure if that makes sense, but I think it’s the start for a different poem.

oct 23/RUN

3.2 miles
turkey hollow
33 degrees
wet snow

It was snowing, I think. Or was it raining? So wet it was hard to tell. Just on the edge. I didn’t mind. Another day with hardly anyone out on the trail. Wore a baseball cap today to shield my eyes. No sharp shards only soft, wet drops. I remember hearing at least one crow cawing but forgot to look down at the river. I wonder if there were any chunks of ice on it?

Ran past turkey hollow and searched for turkeys. Where do they go when it snows? Do they live under the branches of an evergreen tree? Under the bridge? I just looked it up and discovered that wild turkeys roost in trees at night. Which trees? Where? Now I’m imagining taking a walk at night and passing under a tree loaded with turkeys. What a strange sight that would be!

The sidewalk was wet but not slick or snow-covered. I thought about the inner part of a mood ring poem I’m doing about acceptance. Trying to build on my line: Sink deep into sensations other than sight. I though about feeling the river or smelling it? Tasting the air seasoned with mulching leaves? Striking the soft ground?

(a few hours later) Here’s a completed draft of my acceptance mood ring. I can’t decide if acceptance is the right word for describing this mood.

oct 22/RUN

2.15 miles
43rd ave, north/32nd st, east/edmund, south
33 degrees
tiny and sharp snow

Rain and snow coming later this morning so I tried to get out early before it started. Ended up running most of it in the snow–small, sharp pellets that felt like little knives on my face. I wish I would have worn my visor or glasses. I was concerned that the snow might cut my eyes–although it doesn’t really matter for me because my retina is already pretty thin and damaged. (Writing this in my front office, I suddenly saw a flash. Was that lightening? Then thunder. Holy shit. Snow then thunder and lightening. What’s next?)

I was the only fool out there and I loved it. I didn’t mind the weather, except for the sharp shards on my face. The rest of me was completely covered and warm. I didn’t have to worry about avoiding people. It wasn’t slippery. If all winter running could be like this–the uncrowded, not slippery paths–I would be happy.

It was dark and out of focus and other-worldly outside. And loud! The falling snow or freezing rain or sleet or whatever it was was so loud. When I got home, I did a recording.

falling snow, 22 october

I ran past the aspen eyes and by the house that finally sold and several trees still covered in orange leaves. I recited the excerpt from October by May Swenson that I memorized a few days ago. Favorite lines:

See, along the scarcely gliding stream
the blanched, diminished, ragged
swamp and woods the sun still spills into

and

Reversing his perch, he says one
“Chuck.”

It’s fun to say the word, “chuck.”

oct 21/RUN

2.1 miles
river road trail, south/42nd st/edmund, north
35 degrees

7.9 inches of heavy wet snow yesterday. I wasn’t excited about it but I also wasn’t upset. This morning, after shoveling the front sidewalk and the deck, I took Delia for a walk. Wonderful. No wind. Above freezing. Quiet, beautiful snow. Fresh cold air. We walked 2 slow blocks and I breathed deeply and realized that I love winter and being outside in this air, able to breathe without worry or panic. I felt calm, relaxed. Winter will help me get through all of this.

A few hours later, I went out for a short run. Running this winter will be more difficult. Narrower paths with no where to go when others are coming. I will have to start wearing a mask or my yak trax all the time and run in the snow. Or maybe I’ll just run earlier? The path was clear; they must have plowed it this morning. I don’t remember looking at the river or the snow. Did I? I had planned to recite the poem I memorized yesterday but I forgot. On my walk, I noticed a huge limb (or limbs?) of a tree bent down, leaning onto the street, barely hanging on. I forgot to check if it had fallen or been moved as I headed back from my run.

Today’s October Surprise

Yesterday’s snow decorated our backyard trees, leaving thick slabs of white on the limbs. It was especially pretty on the crabapple tree which is loaded to its very tips with tiny red apples that up until a few years ago, when RJP figured out what they actually are, we thought were cherries. The red, covered in white snow, made the entire tree glow pink. And not just to me with my limited color vision. I asked my son and he saw the pink too. Very cool.

oct 20/RUN

3.15 miles
2 trails!
31 degrees

One last run before the snow comes. We’re supposed to get 4-7 inches of snow today. Snow can come early here, but never this much this early. In fact, if we get 4 inches, it will be a new record. What will the trails/roads be like this winter? In the winter I always run on the trails because Minneapolis Parks does a great job of clearing them right away, usually much faster than the road or sidewalks. How crowded will the trails be this winter? I might have to start running with my mask.

Hardly anyone out on the trail this morning. I decided to go for it and head down to the Winchell Trail after turning around and heading north. I only encountered one other runner and no walkers. It was gorgeous, especially the stretch between the 44th street parking lot and 42nd street. Wow! There the leaf-covered trail hugs the side of the bluff. I had to focus on the uneven trail most of the time, but once or twice I quickly glanced down the steep, high bank to the river. Nearing 42nd, the trail curves up and out and at one point you feel like you could run straight off the edge. Amazing! I love this trail. I wish it were wider and longer.

I recited the first half of the October poem by May Swenson I posted yesterday as I ran. I struggled to remember the last line about the roots. I never could so, when I stopped running, I looked it up on my phone and then repeated it several times: “sprawled roots exposed. sprawled roots exposed. sprawled roots exposed.” I’m a little rusty with the memorizing since I haven’t done it in a few months.

Update on the ultra marathon I wrote about yesterday. It is a World Championship and the US runners were competing against other countries virtually. The 2 US runners made it to loop 67 (283 miles). Heading out for loop 68, Harvey Lewis was hallucinating so much that he turned around and came back. Courtney Dauwalter completed the loop and won. Sabbe Karel, a runner for Belgium, eventually won the race completing 75! loops, which is 312 miles or almost an entire marathon more that either US runner. Holy shit. How can a body run that much almost continuously?

In honor of the impending snow (which I am mostly okay with because I love snow and winter and cold, fresh air and watching fluffy flakes from my window and running through it and listening to it crunch under my feet), here’s an Emily Dickinson poem I found a few days ago:

Snow flakes. (45)/ Emily Dickinson

I counted till they danced so
Their slippers leaped the town –
And then I took a pencil
To note the rebels down –
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig –
And ten of my once stately toes
Are marshalled for a jig!

I had to look it up. Prig is a fussy, self-righteous, stuffy person who is too proper to enjoy snow. Dickinson’s idea of snow as irresistibly delightful reminds me of one of my favorite Robert Frost poems:

Dust of Snow/ Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

oct 19/RUN

4.1 miles
river road path, north/seabury and edmund, south
33 degrees

Saw a few flurries as I ran. More coming tomorrow. Up to 6 inches. What? A nice run above the gorge. I had a clear view of the river, but I don’t remember what it looked like. Too busy admiring the bare trees and thinking about how my chest hurt slightly. Not much, just a small, dull ache. Off and on for the past five days. Smelled the toast, always slightly over-toasted, at Longfellow Grill. Heard one dark barking below me on the Winchell Trail. Imagined it running gleefully through the leaves. Was it barking at a squirrel? A tree? A swirling leaf?

Right now I’m tracking this hardcore ultra marathon taking place in Bell Buckle, Tennessee called Big’s Backyard Ultra. The runners–they started with 14–run a loop of 4. 16 miles every hour for as long as they can. Once they can’t finish the loop in an hour, they’re out. Right now, there are 2 runners left and they have just completed 216.66 miles and 52 laps. I don’t usually pay attention to ultra marathons but last year I discovered Courtney Dauwalter and I started following her on Instagram. It’s fascinating to check every hour and see how she’s doing. I can’t imagine running for that long, but I can appreciate the strange other-worldly space it would put you in for the 48+ hours you’re moving or eating or trying to quickly rest before starting again. At what point do you start hallucinating? I think she’s talked about having strange visions before. I wonder how long they will be able to go? And when the second to last person drops out, will the last person standing stop or try to make it to 300 miles? Very hard core. At some point in the past, I might have judged something like this, but now I’m just fascinated–but not nearly enough to try something like this.

Just now I was scrolling through my various feeds, trying to find a poem to post. But then I remembered I already have so many poems posted on here that I love and haven’t spent enough time with. Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite October poems:

October/ May Swenson

7

Now and then, a red leaf riding
the slow flow of gray water.
From the bridge, see far into
the woods, now that limbs are bare,
ground thick-littered. See,
along the scarcely gliding stream,
the blanched, diminished, ragged
swamp and woods the sun still
spills into. Stand still, stare
hard into bramble and tangle,
past leaning broken trunks,
sprawled roots exposed. Will
something move?—some vision
come to outline? Yes, there—
deep in—a dark bird hangs
in the thicket, stretches a wing.
Reversing his perch, he says one
“Chuck.” His shoulder-patch
that should be red looks gray.
This old redwing has decided to
stay, this year, not join the
strenuous migration. Better here,
in the familiar, to fade.

I want to memorize this excerpt today. Is there any way that I could use this bit as inspiration for my mood poem about acceptance, accommodation? I will try!

oct 18/RUN

3 miles
river road trail, south/42nd st/edmund, north/33rd st, west/43rd ave, south
31 degrees

Below freezing this morning. Sunny. Clear, uncrowded paths. A delightful view of the gorge. The wind has done a wonderful job of taking down most of the leaves so I could see the sparkling river and the bluff on the other side. I don’t think I will ever tire of that view, especially when the sun is shining through the few remaining leaves, making everything glow yellowish-orange. Running on Edmund, I admired an amazing, almost fully leaved tree. At first glance, it looked light orange to me, but gradually it looked more yellow. What color was it actually? Since I don’t have many cone cells left–the photoreceptor cells in the macula that enable us to see color–my colors are sometimes strange. Duller, off. You might see yellow when I see pink, gold when I see green. Recited a few Emily Dickinson poems as I moved. I need to start reciting poems again. How many of the poems I memorized this summer do I still remember?

The Precision of Pain and the Blurriness of Joy/ Yehuda Amichai

16
The precision of pain and the blurriness of joy. I’m thinking
how precise people are when they describe their pain in a doctor’s office.
Even those who haven’t learned to read and write are precise:
“This one’s a throbbing pain, that one’s a wrenching pain,
this one gnaws, that one burns, this is a sharp pain
and that––a dull one. Right here. Precisely here,
yes, yes.” Joy blurs everything, I’ve heard people say
after night of love and feasting, “It was great,
I was in seventh heaven.” Even the spaceman who floated
in outer space, tethered to a spaceship, could say only, “Great,
wonderful, I have no words.”
The blurriness of joy and the precision of pain––
I want to describe, with a sharp pain’s precision, happiness
and blurry joy. I learned to speak among the pains.

Oh, I love this poem and the idea of finding more precise ways to describe/catalog joy. Makes me think of how I want to describe, in more specific words, the joy I feel when looking out at the gorge (and why). It also makes me think of Ross Gay and his book of delights and Eula Biss and her essay on the pain scale.

Even as I like this poem and the idea of precision, particularly in terms of giving attention to joy in the same way we do pain, I’m also thinking about precision as cutting, sharp, violent. Blurriness as soft, less harsh, spreading wider, gentle.

(a few hours later)

Wow, the poetry people on twitter are really delivering today. Here’s another great poem that I don’t (yet) understand, but I love the topic of the other side of the river:

Wrong Side of the River/ Stanley Plumly

I watched you on the wrong side
of the river, waving. You were trying
to tell me something. You used both hands
and sort of ran back and forth.
as if to say look behind you, look out
behind you
. I wanted to wave back.
But you began shouting and I didn’t
want you to think I understood.
So I did nothing but stand still,
thinking that’s what to do on the wrong side
of the river. After a while you did too.
We stood like that for a long time. Then
I raised a hand, as if to be called on,
and you raised a hand, as if to the same question. 

oct 15/RUN

5 miles
franklin loop
50 degrees

Felt colder than 50 degrees with the wind and the occasional brief downpour. A beautiful fall morning. Because of the wind and rain, there weren’t too many people out on the trail. Running above the river was wonderful–so much more of a view as the leaves leave. I love late fall. More of a view, winter and winter running are coming, less people will be on the trail which means less fear and distraction over keeping a safe distance.

Things I Remember

  • The sun just barely glowing through the clouds behind me, enough to enable my shadow to make a faint appearance in front of me. Hello friend!
  • So much wind on the Lake Street bridge that I was blown across the sidewalk and had to hold onto my hat for several minutes
  • The river! Every year I forgot how wonderful the view is, having not seen it since May. Open, airy, a chance to breathe, to stare at the water as it winds down the gorge!
  • Glancing down at the floodplain forest from the tunnel of trees and admiring the soft glow of yellow leaves
  • Noticing the dog park at Meeker Island is open
  • The curve of the black wrought iron fence at an overlook on the Winchell Trail not too far from Franklin
  • Being able to see the entire trestle, stretching to the other side, wondering when/if a train would cross it
  • Running at least 10-12 feet from some walkers and smelling the perfume of one of them, being reminded of how far someone’s presence/scent/air can travel, wondering if I should be wearing a mask when I run

Today’s October Surprise

Last night, walking through the neighborhood, Scott and I heard a dog barking–I think it was a french bulldog or a boxer?–whose bark sounded like they were yelling out the word bark. “Bark! Bark! Bark!” It made me giggle. Some day I would like to have a dog that I named Bob Barker.

Working on my fourth mood ring poem today. As I ran, I reflected on a line about what, in a face, indicates life–a glimmer in the eye? the raising of an eyebrow? a slight head nod? the curve of a mouth?

Speaking of head nods, I have been intending to post this poem for several months. It seems fitting today as I think about how people connect through gestures:

Ode to the Head Nod/ Elizabeth Acevedo

the slight angling up of the forehead
neck extension quick jut of chin

meeting the strangers’ eyes
a gilded curtsy to the sunfill in another

in yourself tithe of respect
in an early version the copy editor deleted

the word “head” from the title
the copy editor says it’s implied

the copy editor means well
the copy editor means

she is only fluent in one language of gestures
i do not explain i feel sad for her

limited understanding of greetings & maybe
this is why my acknowledgements are so long;

didn’t we learn this early?
to look at white spaces

thank god o thank god for

you

are here

oct 14/RUN

3.45 miles
extended hill, 3 times
54 degrees

Yesterday while walking Delia up above on Edmund, I noticed that all of the trucks at the construction site just above the tunnel of trees were gone. Oh no! They’re going to open up this stretch of the river road again–the last stretch still closed, the stretch where I had just started doing hill workouts. Bummer. Oh well, I’ll find somewhere else to run. As of this morning, it’s still closed but now, because the trucks are gone, I can run the entire stretch of it, from the top of the hill at 36th to another (slight) rise at 32nd. Nice. I almost had the road to myself; only a runner or two and the street sweeping truck. Very windy this morning. 28 mph gusts. Lots of leaves on the ground and in the air. The dominant leaf color: yellow. Such a gorgeous fall color season. I noticed the river glowing below me. As I ran on the river road–and when I walked on it yesterday afternoon–I couldn’t see the river or into the gorge because I was too far away from it, but I could tell it was there. I could feel the openness, the gap, the abundance of air.

Today’s October Surprise

Wild grass of some sort, with a dark purple stalk and cream colored feathers–maybe Purple Fountain Grass?–in a neighbor’s yard. I love ornamental grasses, especially the ones with fluffy tops. Whenever I walk by them, I always want to run my fingers through the top. When is the best time to plant these grasses? I would love some for next year. I will try to remember to get a picture of this grass on our walk this afternoon.

Here’s the picture:

Still working on my mood ring poems. I have the first two done and I’m pleased with the results. Yesterday’s mood was curiosity. I started with a table in a pages document and laboriously filled in the letters for the main poem, making many mistakes and having to delete a lot of letters in individual boxes.

Main Poem

Then, I inserted the shorter, ring poem into the empty spaces. Lots of counting boxes and characters and rethinking words.

Inner, ring poem

And here’s the completed poem, in 2 parts. The left highlights the main poem, the right the secondary, ring poem.

oct 11/RUN

2.5 miles
river road trail, south/edmund, north
49 degrees

Ran south on the river road trail to the 44th st parking lot, then down to the grassy overlook. Such a wonderful view of the river, shining in the morning sun! Windy today. How many leaves will be off of the trees by tomorrow? Tried to pay attention to my breath, to be grateful to be out on the trail this morning, and to think in triples (mostly dactyls):

  • full of grief
  • filled with joy
  • suffering
  • bountiful
  • troublesome
  • lacking life
  • falling leaves
  • swirling wind
  • river view
  • running path
  • moving feet
  • dripping nose
  • breathe in deep

Still working on my mood ring poems. I think I’ve finally figured out the form–so tedious! I had to create a table with separate boxes for each letter. I think it was worth the extra time and I’m pleased that I could do the entire thing on my own, without any help from Scott.

oct 10/RUN

3 miles
2 schools loop
50 degrees

Another beautiful fall morning. I thought about doing a longer run, crossing the ford bridge, running up the east side of the river, but I knew it would be annoyingly crowded on a Saturday morning. So I did what I often do on the weekends, ran around the kids old elementary schools: Hiawatha (K-2) and Howe (3-5). Started on the river road trail but soon crossed over to edmund. I don’t remember the view, only the multiple times I had to stutter step to avoid streaking squirrels. Inspired by a podcast I listened to yesterday, I tried to focus on my breathing and striking feet. I chanted triples. At first, it was difficult. I kept repeating “strawberry/blueberry/raspberry” but eventually I expanded my list:

  • delightful
  • bemusement
  • mystery
  • logical
  • circular
  • wonderful
  • difficult
  • diffident
  • caterwaul
  • symphony
  • musical
  • deduction
  • induction

I am a little out of practice with these. I haven’t spent much time chanting; I’m too busy trying keep my distance.

Today’s October Surprise

First: Watching the original 101 Dalmatians with Scott last night. I love the jazzy, be-spotted opening credits. I couldn’t read all the text (not even close) but I still enjoyed it. Interesting fact from Scott and Mental Floss: 30% of all Dalmatians are deaf:

Around 30 percent of all Dalmatians are inflicted with deafness as a result of their spotted markings. Breeding dogs with this coat can lead to a lack of mature melanocytes (melanin producing cells) in the inner ear. Without these, dogs can become hard of hearing. Dogs with larger patches of black are less likely to be deaf. 

Second: Running around Howe School, I noticed a quick white flash up in the clear blue sky. Was it the moon or a plane? Even though the upper regions of my central vision are all dark, I was able to tilt my head and see that it was a plane. Such a small thing, but the more I learn about my vision, the more I’m astonished I am when I see anything that small in such a broad field of blue!

oct 9/RUN

2 miles
45th ave, north/32nd st, east/tunnel of trees, south/edmund, south/37th st, west
69 degrees

Warm this morning! We might hit 83 today. No thanks. Still, it was beautiful running through the neighborhood and by the river. Glanced at the water a few times and it was glowing in the sun. The tunnel of trees was glowing too: marigold. I love that color. I didn’t encounter a single runner on the narrow trail winding up to the ancient boulder. No stones stacked on top of it. I forgot to greet the welcoming oaks or check if they were a goldengrove unleaving.

Today’s October Surprise

This surprise comes from our long walk last night, all the way to turkey hollow and back. Walking round the neighborhood, Scott and I encountered bright, beautiful wildflowers still blooming. Light purples, dark purples, oranges, yellows, hot pinks. And halfway up a cedar fence, a trail of flaming red leaves. I noticed them first in my peripheral, the feeling of a bright color. Then, looking at them straight, I could see the red. Scott took a picture, after I asked him to, of some funky purple flowers: