april 21/RUNHIKE

2 mile run/.5 mile hike
mississippi river gorge above and below, north/south
72 degrees

Ran a mile with Scott to the Lake Street bridge then hiked below to the river for 1/2 mile, climbed up some stone steps by the greenway, then ran 1 mile back. Beautiful. Everything was brown–almost looked like fall but felt like summer. I’d like to do more run/hikes like this. This side of the gorge is similar to the east side, except the east side has paved paths, an abandoned parking lot and benches/picnic tables. Scott and I encountered some dirt mounds, halfway up the gorge, and wondered if they were burial mounds.

Spent some time looking through the archives of Boaat and found this cool poem: DRIFTING/aya satoh

april 20/RUN

3 miles
stone arch/pink bridge/river road/stone arch
62! degrees

Ran with Scott while FWA was in his clarinet lesson. Warm. Sunny. Windy. Crowded. Instead of our regular room through Boom Island, we decided to take the service road to the U and run across the pink bridge. That loop is only 2.2 miles so we added one more trip across Stone Arch bridge.

This week in my poetry class we talked about the caesura (a stop of pause in the metrical line). Here’s a great poem, by a wonderful person, about the caesura. Love it!

WEIGHT
by Carolina Ebeid

(hush listen)

Is a caesura a quiet hallway

in a church? Is it a silence

with commandments to hush,

listen? Was it composed for

two voices? Is that silence

like the time you said stop it

wait to the boys, how you

should have said stop, but

you said nothing behind

la carnicerĂ­a that sold live

chickens? When a boy picked

up the brick throwing it at

the hen—wait— from a near

distance? Is the caesura that

near distance a brick travels

from hand to head? Is white

space like piano keys playing

softer & softer until zero

decibels? Is it the cleared

sweep after a missile falls

no more green? Does it share

the pull of gravity? Is it the living

body of Ana Mendieta? Dropped

—stop—out of a window?

Is she in a kind of white now?

Is it composed of no & no?

Wouldn’t you say the white

is like the space of an envelope?

Where the postage must go?

Dear person who won’t write

back, Most esteemed ghost

matter, My darling inventory

of nature? The white lie

white whisper hearsay flickering

all reaching the moment of

a candle blown out? Is the white

break like a hospital door

swinging open & there your father

delivered back to you? Linen

white muzzle across the face?

Does the break assemble into

a waiting room? One woman asks

for the housekeeper’s name

while her friend replies:

aren’t they all named Maria?

Is the white space clean

with the smell of ammonia?

Is there dizzying laughter? Say

stop it, wait. Is it like a hurricane

with the same name? Has it become

marble-quite like a wall

for interning ashes? Is it the sound

of rubble? Isn’t the empty white

more like moons growing brightest

from right to left? Right to left

like a message in the Arab

side of town, spray-painted

on a curfew night? Won’t you say

it’s composed for more than two

voices? Like a chorus that speaks

in unison there? Aren’t they all

named Maria? Do they make

the sound of rubble? The nothing

you say, is it dressed in white

like the guy in your group punching

the girl from the rival group who

talks trash at us & he hits her

because a woman is liberated just

like a man? Liberation?

Is it blurred & blank with flight?

Wasn’t it composed for a pyro-

technic finale? Whites of eyes

like the white of a room you walk into

& no one seems to be grieving?

Isn’t the white, the whites of human

teeth glossed with blood

on the concrete?

april 19/RUN

5.25 miles
franklin bridge loop
52 degrees!

Spring! Shorts, sun, Shadow, sparkling water, slight soft breeze. A wonderful run, even though it felt hard at times. Saw the Daily Walker but couldn’t greet him because we were running the same way. Encountered 2 separate groups of kids on bikes–one on the east side, one on the west. Heard some birds. Saw lots of brown. Noticed the white beach in the gorge, midway between the lake street bridge and the greenway. Watched my shadow for awhile. Mostly she was friendly but she irritated me on the franklin bridge right before I turned and she fell behind. Did a lot of counting: 1 2 3 45 1 2 345 then 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8…thought about how 7 is the only number with 2 syllables. Why is that? Convinced my self to not stop to walk until at least mile 4 and managed to do it. I think I saw the man in black in shorts and not all black! Looked for the eagle on the dead tree under the marshall side of the bridge.

Above all else, tried to stay focused on the river. Glad I could still see it–the leaves haven’t returned yet. At first it seemed still, not moving. But by the Franklin bridge I noticed its slow descent to the falls. I stopped on the lake street bridge to watch it more closely. Decided to talk into my smart phone. Maybe I can shape some of this into a poem? I’d like to try recording more of these moments this spring. A good way to force myself to slow down my runs.

looking at the mississippi/lake street bridge

transcript from recording:

standing here
on the lake street bridge
watching the river water
as it slowly moves
at certain spots it’s shimmering
at other spots
it almost looks like a pale ghost
ghostly ice just under the surface
or muddy swirls near the bottom
the dirt just being loosened
and brought up to the surface
the river is mostly brown and then blue
and everything’s brown
and the water just slowly moves
earlier it seemed
almost dead lifeless so still
and now I can see it’s just slowly
moving closer to the falls

With practice, I’m hoping to get better at these brief recordings. It was hard to capture with words the strange beauty of the river’s slow movement in many different forms. Part of the surface was sparkling, shimmering, undulating. Some was smooth, flat. A few vees were visible–was something in the water disrupting it? And then, the ghostly swirls. Speaking of vees, right after I finished recording, a skein of geese flew overhead, not too far above the bridge.

Here’s a poem I just found about the river (and Heraclitus!):

SAME SUN, SAME MOON, SAME RIVER
BY NEIL CARPATHIOS

It is easy to imagine Heraclitus
walking stone streets witnessing
life in Athens with no permanence,
stopping strangers to explain about the river,
being laughed at as they moved
from point A to point B fearing Apollo
and Hades then at dusk drinking wine,
waiting for the happy obliteration alcohol brings,
not realizing how lucky they were
to be stupid and so deep
in their bodies even the sun
and moon trading places over and over
meant nothing.

april 16/RUN

3.5 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
51 degrees

What a day! Sunny. Light breeze. Warm. So long snow. Passed a woman early on, breathing heavily. Her loud gasps, almost echoing above the gorge, followed me for a few minutes. Celebrated with my shadow, both of us so happy to be outside this morning. Wondered what the workers in yellow vests were waiting for near the lake street bridge. Heard that same barking dog–the one I heard a couple of times a few months ago–pass by me in that same white truck. Weird. Stopped at the railroad trestle and took the steps down, below the trestle, still above the river. Hiked for a few minutes, climbing a few small hills–more like mounds. Heard a few woodpeckers. Turned around and had a wonderful view of the underbelly of the railroad bridge. Then started running again. When I was almost done, a squirrel decided to race me, not darting out in front of me but running beside me through the dead leaves. Was able to say good morning to the Daily Walker.

Here’s one other poem that I marked to remember from The Collected Works of James Laughlin:

THE LONGEST YEAR/james laughlin

Began with snowstorms, one after another.
In March a frantic night of wind took down
The huge sugar maple that showed a hundred
Rings when it was cut up for firewood.
Spring was dubious and too short, a hot
Summer too long. A child drowned in Tobey
Pond, it was horrible. Only in October
Were there a few perfect days with the leaves
Ablaze. Again before its time, baleful winter
Set in. Cars skidded on the icy roads.
At Christmas a false thaw deceived us
For a week before a deadly ice storm had
The branches of the trees cracking like
Rifle shots as they broke off all night.
It was a battlefield in the woodlot
Next morning. I didn’t count the days
Of that malevolent year, I only wished
Never to see such another. . . until,
Blessed miracles, it was true spring,
the lilacs blooming, the daffodils
Nodding, and you, Persephone, came up
From the world below to seek me out.

april 15/RUN

2.15 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
52 degrees

Watched the Boston Marathon this morning. Last year, when I was watching it, we were getting 17 inches of snow. This year, sun and above freezing temperatures. Did a short run with Scott this afternoon. Windy and overcast but warmer with a clear path. Felt pretty easy, like I was bouncing on the path.

Found a draft of a poem that I wrote a few years ago. It’s inspired by what I’d recently read on how different writers remember their thoughts when they’re walking or running.

How do you keep

an idea from running away? Grab a stick
and etch it in your arm? Pin a piece
of paper to your clothes? Jot it down
in a pocket-sized notebook? Speak it
into your smart phone? Why
not let it run away
instead of immobilizing it with words.
You might be able to follow it
into the woods or
over the creek or
down by the river or
under the bridge.
Words may not be fast enough to follow
but you might
with your flying feet.

And here’s a poem I read (and heard) this morning on the Poetry Foundation site. What a poem! I love the title and so many of the images–especially describing the field after harvest as a man’s unruly face. Even better than describing it as stubble (which I’ve often thought and read before).

Thinking of Frost
Major Jackson, 1968

I thought by now my reverence would have waned,
matured to the tempered silence of the bookish or revealed
how blasé I’ve grown with age, but the unrestrained
joy I feel when a black skein of geese voyages like a dropped
string from God, slowly shifting and soaring, when the decayed
apples of an orchard amass beneath its trees like Eve’s
first party, when driving and the road Vanna-Whites its crops
of corn whose stalks will soon give way to a harvester’s blade
and turn the land to a man’s unruly face, makes me believe
I will never soothe the pagan in me, nor exhibit the propriety
of the polite. After a few moons, I’m loud this time of year,
unseemly as a chevron of honking. I’m fire in the leaves,
obstreperous as a New England farmer. I see fear
in the eyes of his children. They walk home from school,
as evening falls like an advancing trickle of bats, the sky
pungent as bounty in chimney smoke. I read the scowl
below the smiles of parents at my son’s soccer game, their agitation,
the figure of wind yellow leaves make of quaking aspens.

april 14/RUN

4.75 miles
to top of franklin bridge and back
32 degrees
5% snow-covered

The snow is melting. The birds are chirping. The path is almost all clear. So quiet and calm today. Mostly cloudy, making the river look gray. The floodplain forest was all white. Occasionally the sun sat on the surface of the river leaving a bright circle of shimmering light. Saw a few squirrels. Heard some geese. Any crows? I don’t think so. A few voices below–a family hiking through the snow on the gorge. I wonder when the rowers will return?

Yesterday morning I started reading through The Collected Poems of James Laughlin. What a big book! 1214 pages. I’m reading through them quickly, marking the ones I especially like. In general, I like his simple, clear style. Brief lines. A quirky voice. Here are a few that I marked:

THE POET TO THE READER/james laughlin

These poems are not I
hope what anyone ex-

pets and yet reader
I hope that when you

read them you will say
I’ve felt that too but

it was such a natural
think it was too plain

to see until you saw
it for me in your poem.

IN THE SNOW/james laughlin

The track of the ermine
the track of the mouse

tracks of a deer in the
snow and my track that

wanders and hesitates
doubling and crossing

itself stops to burrow
and circles trees this

track I made twists like
the veins in a leaf of a

crack in a mirror and it
cries seems to cry cries

to the sun cries sun sun
touch and burn cries sun

touch and save cries to
the snow–and then snow

falls covering everything
new snow covers my track

covers the track of the
ermine mouse and deer.

LITTLE BITS OF PAPER: AN ARS POETIC/james laughlin

Most of them began with a few words
read in some book or a phrase over-

heard scratched on a bit of paper
these chits go into the side pocket

of my jacket usually they stay there
until the coat is so spotted it must

be sent to the cleaners when I empty
the pocket most of the slips go into

the wastebasket but a few are pasted
with Scotch tape on the bathroom mir-

ro where I see them when I’m shaving
some stay there a long time but with

some there is an urgency they come
into my head when I wake to pee in

the middle of the night more words
come with them almost faster than I

can scribble on the yellow pad on the
bedtable the words beget other words

(it’s like spilled milk spreading on
the kitchen floor) words making other

words I don’t make them they make
themselves into the poem but some-

times in the morning I can’t read
what I’ve written (because I wrote

in the dark) so that’s the end of
that one it’s had its say and it

won’t come back I write in darkness.

I picked this last one because it made me think of Susan Howe and her story about Jonathan Edwards and how he would pin ideas he had on scraps of paper to his clothes as he was riding around on his horse. A couple of years ago, I was thinking a lot about how runners hold onto the ideas that they have as their running–scribble it on pieces of paper, carry a small notebook, scratch it in their arm with a stick, talk into their smart phone. Maybe I should experiment with this some more? As I was trying to recall who Howe had been talking about (I had forgotten), I discovered that she wrote a book about Emily Dickinson, My Emily Dickinson. I might have to check it out of the library. Apparently, Dickinson wrote many of her poems on scraps of paper.

april 9/RUN

3.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
52 degrees

Decided to run again this morning because tomorrow winter returns: ice, snow, blizzard conditions. Hopefully it will melt quickly but if not, at least I was able to run just above the gorge today. It’s sunny and windy. My legs felt sore–not injured sore, just sore sore–and it was hard to just be in the run, not thinking. I tried chanting a little and that helped. Strawberry blueberry raspberry. Haven’t seen the Daily Walker in a while. Enjoyed listening to the grit scratch scratch scratch. Noticed a few stray patches of snow down below the lake street bridge. Marveled at the beauty of the floodplain forest, bare and brown. Didn’t really look at the river. Encountered a few dogs and their owners.

The daily poem over at poems.org is amazing:

Holdfast
Robin Beth Schaer

The dead are for morticians & butchers
to touch. Only a gloved hand. Even my son
will leave a grounded wren or bat alone
like a hot stove. When he spots a monarch
in the driveway he stares. It’s dead,
I say, you can touch it. The opposite rule:
butterflies are too fragile to hold
alive, just the brush of skin could rip
a wing. He skims the orange & black whorls
with only two fingers, the way he learned
to feel the backs of starfish & horseshoe crabs
at the zoo, the way he thinks we touch
all strangers. I was sad to be born, he tells me,
because it means I will die. I once loved someone
I never touched. We played records & drank
coffee from chipped bowls, but didn’t speak
of the days pierced by radiation. A friend
said: Let her pretend. She needs one person
who doesn’t know. If I held her, I would
have left bruises, if I undressed her, I would
have seen scars, so we never touched
& she never had to say she was dying.
We should hold each other more
while we are still alive, even if it hurts.
People really die of loneliness, skin hunger
the doctors call it. In a study on love,
baby monkeys were given a choice
between a wire mother with milk
& a wool mother with none. Like them,
I would choose to starve & hold the soft body.

I think I was that one friend to my mom. We would sit in the two matching chairs in her bedroom, watching bad tv–mostly The Real Housewives of New York–and good tv–the barefoot contessa–and laugh and talk, forgetting about how she was dying from stage four pancreatic cancer.

april 8/RUN

4.6 miles
to downtown
69 degrees
wind: 6 mph, gusts up to 30 mph

Not sure how much wind there was but I was running into all of it the whole way. It made it much harder. I stopped to walk several times but I still made it to downtown. Do I remember anything other than feeling sore and tired? The river was beautiful. I was able to make a satisfying shshshsh sound on the grit at the edge of the path. My back felt fine. I saw my shadow, running beside me. What a fabulous late afternoon. It is hard to believe that we are supposed to get over a foot of snow on Thursday.

Sitting by the open window writing this, I hear birds chirping and cooing and trilling. So I decided to look for a poem about birds and this is what I found:

Words are Birds
BY FRANCISCO X. ALARCĂ“N

words
are birds
that arrive
with books
and spring

they
love
clouds
the wind
and trees

some words
are messengers
that come
from far away
from distant lands

for them
there are
no borders
only stars
moon and sun

some words
are familiar
like canaries
others are exotic
like the quetzal bird

some can stand
the cold
others migrate
with the sun
to the south

some words
die
caged—
they’re difficult
to translate

and others
build nests
have chicks
warm them
feed them

teach them
how to fly
and one day
they go away
in flocks

the letters
on this page
are the prints
they leave
by the sea

april 7/RUN

3.25 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
53 degrees/84% humidity
shorts again! too warm!

A beautiful morning. Sunny. Warm. Not too windy. Ran towards the falls instead of downtown. Tried to hang onto some thoughts about my vision diagnosis from 2016. What did I feel when the doctor told me I was losing my central vision? Relief, mostly. Finally I knew what was wrong with me. It wasn’t something I was making up and it wasn’t neurological (my big fear). Now that I knew I could deal with it. This relief lasted for a few months and then the doubt crept in as I wondered if my vision was really as bad as the doctor said it was or if my easy acceptance of the diagnosis was too easy. Then, I discovered that what I had been diagnosed with (Best’s disease) was not actually what I had. Instead, I had a rarer, more vague form of cone dystrophy–pinpointing the exact disease might not be possible, wouldn’t change anything and would involve annoying, costly test. I had a great thought about this just as I was starting my run, but then forgot it. I should have stopped to speak it into my phone. Something about knowing and not knowing, embracing the uncertainty of never really knowing and accepting that knowing exactly what my vision problem is won’t make a difference in my treatment (there is none) or the speed at which my central vision deteriorates. And, in fact, knowing is not possible. This not knowing is not ignorance–more like never knowing enough, having perpetually incomplete knowledge, the impossibility of KNOWING.

As I was trying to think about what word to use for this phenomenon, I remembered “bewilderment”–first read in Fanny Howe’s great essay of the same name. Here are a few other sources that I bookmarked way back in August about bewilderment (confusion, uncertain, unknowing, wonder):

And here’s a source I found today: Unknowing Lyric

While looking through my old journal, I found this beautiful poem:

march 28/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
41 degrees

Today I tried to listen. Some sounds I heard: the scratching of a metal rake on the bare pavement; a buzzing plane up above; birds chirping and cooing–any cawing? I can’t remember; the crunch crunch crunch of my striking feet on the gritty path; another plane roaring; dead leaves shuffling in the wind; car wheels whooshing. Then I forgot to listen and marveled at the earthy brown gorge. Why do I find this color so appealing? Looked through the floodplain forest all the way to the sliver of river. Greeted the Welcoming Oaks. Noticed a number of branches gone–must have been what the Minneapolis parks crew was doing in January with their chainsaws. Said good morning to the Daily Walker towards the end of my run. Chanted triplets. Wanted to stop and take a break at the 2 mile mark but didn’t. Decided that 40 degrees and slightly overcast are some of my favorite conditions for running.

I’m reading Craig Morgan Teicher’s lovely book, We Begin In Gladness: How Poetry Progresses and I just found this line:

It’s my puzzle to work out, and yours, and Szybist’s too, and where those bubbles overlap, where one interior meets another, and where inner meets outer, is poetry (29).

Again, the inner and outer. Where inner meets outer. Inside outside. Inner weather outer weather.

Lately I’ve been briefly waking up at 5:30 and then going back to sleep until 6:15 when the alarm goes off. This up too early then back to sleep again produces some vivid dreams. This morning, I dreamed about my mom, before she was sick. She was healthy and happy and wearing just the right shade of bright orange pants and red lipstick. We looked at each other and smiled. I woke up happy, thinking about how wonderful it was to see her again, especially in bright orange pants.

Are you sewing, Mom?
Angeline Schellenberg

my mother asks as
Grandma twines
her fingers through hospital sheets.
I’m planting marigolds,
she answers with a childish
grin. And tomorrow
you and I will bake
meat buns for Christmas.

I love this little poem that I discovered the other day.

march 26/RUN

5.1 miles
franklin loop
39 degrees
clear path!

Finally, after more than 2 months I was able to run the franklin loop! I checked and the last time I ran it was on January 7th. A wonderful morning for a run. It felt much warmer than 39 degrees. Sunny. I watched my shadow in front of me. Checked out the floodplain forest below me. Listened to the satisfying sounds of gritty sand crunching under my feet and the cars slowly approaching on the road from behind. Noticed several squirrels, too busy to dart out in front of me. Recited a few triplet melodies (raspberry/strawberry/chocolate) and a line or two from “Sick” by Shel Silverstein (I cannot go to school today/said little Peggy Ann McKay). Crossed the Franklin bridge and ran on a sidewalk stained white from salt. Glanced down at the East River Flats and a giant rock, almost taller than me, lodged in the grass between the walking and biking path. Made note of the terrible condition of the road between the Franklin bridge and the railroad trestle. So many potholes! Wondered if the eagle that used to perch on a branch near the marshall/lake street bridge was back (they weren’t). Decided to walk up the steps instead of running up the hill and crossing the road at the spot where a runner was hit by a car and killed two years ago.

Since it’s Robert Frost’s 145th birthday, I thought I’d post my favorite Frost poem. I read it in high school and I think it was one of the first poems I ever memorized. It helped me through my injury two summers ago.

Out, Out–
Robert Frost, 1874 – 1963

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside them in her apron
To tell them “Supper.” At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all spoiled. “Don’t let him cut my hand off—
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!”
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

march 25/RUN

4.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
99% clear walking path

Colder, causing an occasional slippery spot. Still felt like spring. Again, bright sun. Bare, brown ground. Open paths. Was able to mostly run on the walking path for the first time in months. I enjoyed the run but was always worried about my back. It didn’t hurt while I was running, but it’s been sore off and on for a few months. I don’t remember hearing the grit on the path or any rustling leaves. Too cold for dripping water. I think the most memorable thing about my run was the river. Dozens of ice floes slowly moving down the river. Beautiful and calming. At the halfway point, I stopped to watch their graceful progression towards Minnehaha Falls. As I ran back I wondered about our relative speeds–mine and the ice.

Layers: too many! 2 shirts, a vest, gloves, a buff, running tights, visor. The gloves came off after mile 1. My orange shirt, after mile 2. Pretty soon, I’ll be wearing shorts.

Shedding Skin
Harryette Mullen, 1953

Pulling out of the old scarred skin
(old rough thing I don’t need now
I strip off
slip out of
leave behind)

I slough off deadscales
flick skinflakes to the ground

Shedding toughness
peeling layers down
to vulnerable stuff

And I’m blinking off old eyelids
for a new way of seeing

By the rock I rub against
I’m going to be tender again



march 23/RACE

Hot Dash 5K
26:10
river front Minneapolis
30 degrees

Most of the races I run these days are on this route. St. Anthony Main to the Plymouth bridge, south on the West River Road, Stone Arch Bridge. A nice route, even if the cobblestones at St. Anthony Main are terrible. Avoided the many potholes and missing cobblestones, but ran into a big orange cone. Orange is one of the colors I struggle to see. Just happy I didn’t fall or injure myself. Perfect weather for a race–sunny, hardly any wind, cool but not too cold. Didn’t even consider running with headphones, which is funny because for the first few years of running I couldn’t imagine running without them. Don’t remember hearing any conversations or exuberant cheering. There were some drums banging near the Stone Arch Bridge. About 2.5 miles in there was a hill that I hated. Then another hill. Then, thankfully, the finish. I never wanted to stop and walk, but I was glad to be done.

march 22/RUN

3.2 miles
mississippi river road path, south/north
41 degrees
feels like spring!

We are more than midway through the Great Melt of ’19 and everything is starting to feel springy. Sunshine. Warm air. Brown ground. Even though it’s only 41 degrees it still felt warm enough to be in short sleeves for the second half of my run. It’s been a long time since my arms have had direct contact with the sun. Slowly, I’m losing layers. The river was completely open. The path, clear. I went to the right instead of the left today so I didn’t see the Daily Walker or the Man in Black. Encountered a few dogs and their humans. Some bikers. A runner in shorts and a tank top. At least, I think he was wearing a tank top–it was the color of his flesh, so it was hard to tell. I don’t remember hearing much as I ran–a few voices, approaching me from behind. I wondered if they were running or biking (they were biking). And some kids having fun at the playground. I don’t remember dripping or airplanes overhead or the hum of traffic on the other side of the river or grit crunching under my feet or my heavy breathing or crows cawing. Forgot to think about anything else but how beautiful it was and how my back was a little sore. Someday soon, I should record myself talking as I run or give myself something to try and think about.

addendum: I almost forgot about the black glove I saw lying on the edge of the path looking forgotten. Why is it always black? How long has it been there–was it buried under the snow or lost today? Is it missed? Was it dropped right on the spot where I saw it or had it traveled from somewhere else, carried by the snow? Did a runner lose it? A walker? At night? In the morning? During a snowstorm? So many questions!

I’ve started checking out Poetry Daily every day. Last week, I discovered the poem, Hearing Loss by Noah Balding. They cannot hear the human voice, but only other, peripheral sounds. This reminds me of my vision problems and my inability to see faces.

march 19/RUN

4.25 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
39 balmy degrees
1% super slick barely frozen slippery spots, 5% puddles

Officially, spring starts this week. And, unlike many past Minnesota Marches, it feels like spring is starting too. Still barely reaching the 40s. Still snow on the ground. But birds and bright sun, more melting snow and a vague sense of warmth/warmish air is all around. A good run but one tinged with some worry. Scott has arthritis and unless he’s able to change the way he runs, he might have to stop running altogether. Most likely he won’t be able to run the marathon. I am sad for him and for the possibility of not running with him. And worried, wondering if the marathon might be too much for my body too. Before my run, I felt every ache–in my lower back, my right calf and knee, my left foot–more acutely.

What do I remember from the run? Slip-sliding over barely visibly shiny slick spots. Hearing the birds. Marveling at the river’s surface shimmering in the sun. Watching my shadow run ahead of me. Getting passed by someone running much faster than me and watching their graceful gait. Thinking about my form, trying to keep my feet straight and my arms even. Listening to the dripping and melting. Feeling too warm. Encountering a runner in shorts. Tried to think about what I had been pondering pre-run after finding a fun poem by Sharon Bryan: the body and the soul. What is their relationship and what is a soul? Walt Whitman says the body is the soul and Michel Foucault claims the soul is the prison of the body. And here’s how Bryan imagines it:

Body and Soul
BY SHARON BRYAN

They grow up together
but they aren’t even fraternal

twins, they quarrel a lot
about where to go and what

to do, the body complains
about having to carry

the soul everywhere as if
it were some helpless cripple,

and the soul snipes that it can go
places the body never dreamed of,

then they quarrel over which one of them
does the dreaming, but the truth is,

they can’t live without each other and
they both know it, anima, animosity,

the diaphragm pumps like a bellows
and the soul pulls out all the stops—

sings at the top of its lungs, laughs
at its little jokes, it would like

to think it has the upper hand
and can leave whenever it wants—

but only as long as it knows
the door will be unlocked

when it sneaks back home before
the sun comes up, and when the body

says where have you been, the soul
says, with a smirk, I was at the end

of my tether, and it was, like a diver
on the ocean floor or an astronaut

admiring the view from outside
the mother ship, and like them

it would be lost without its air
supply and protective clothing,

the body knows that and begins
to hum, I get along without you

very well, and the soul says, Listen
to that, you can’t sing worth a lick

without me, they’ll go on bickering
like this until death do them part—

and then, even if the soul seems to float
above the body for a moment,

like a flame above a candle, pinch
the wick and it disappears.

Love these lines: the diaphragm pumps like a bellows/
and the soul pulls out all the stops—
/sings at the top of its lungs, laughs/at its little jokes

I tried to think about the body and the soul while I ran, but I mostly thought about my body only: my knees, back, shoulders, toes, feet. Were they sore? Was I landing on my foot correctly? How’s my right knee? Are my shoulders too tense?

The other day, I wrote about running in the fog. Here’s a poem someone posted on twitter this morning. It’s from The New Yorker, May 2012.

Confessions of a Nature Lover
By Bob Hicok

Back then I was going steady
with fog, who could dance
like no one’s business, I threw her over
for a leaf that one day fluttered
first her shadow then her whole life
into my hand, that’s a lot
of responsibility and a lot
of relatives, this leaf
and that leaf and all the other leaves
hung around, I told her
I needed space, which was true,
without it I’d only be a soul,
and no one’s sure that wisp
is real, that’s why we say
of real estate, location, location,
location, and of speech,
locution, locution, locution,
and of live, yes, yes, yes,
I am on my knees, will you have me,
world?

So much to think about in this poem. For now, I’m just thinking about his reference to fog. After running in the fog last Thursday, I did some free writing around fog and my log entry. Here’s a draft of a poem:

march 14/4 miles/heavy fog/43 degrees

Liquid-y layers
drip drop drape

the Forest’s floor. Fog
reaches Road’s ribbon,

the river’s edge.
Everything is enveloped.

Shrouded. Cocooned. Consumed.
Light, devoured.

Only a single bike lamp carves out
a bright circle in the thick air

while several sirens sing
an invisible song.


march 16/RUN

3 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
25 degrees
20% super slick thin ice covered

Birds! Sun! Almost clear path! 50 degree weather next week! Finally. This last month of winter has been rough. Too much snow. Too much cold. Too much ice. It’s still cold. And there’s still snow and ice. But spring is coming someday soon. My run today felt good. Hardly any wind. Long stretches of clear path. Heard some trickling water and lots of disembodied voices. Behind me on the path. Below me in the gorge. The river was completely open, sparkling in the sunlight. Do I remember anything from the run? Taking my gloves off around mile 2. Pushing up my sleeves too. Feeling my ponytail flapping as I picked up the pace. Running/gliding/sliding over a short stretch of sheer ice between the lake street bridge and the greenway. Passing lots of pedestrians.

My poem for today is WS Merwin’s Sight. He died yesterday. A wonderful poet. I love the form of this poem. 5 quatrains. Each one starting with a one syllable word.

SIGHT
W. S. Merwin


Once
a single cell
found that it was full of light
and for the first time there was seeing

when
I was a bird
I could see where the stars had turned
and I set out on my journey

high
in the head of a mountain goat
I could see across a valley
under the shining trees something moving

deep
in the green sea
I saw two sides of the water
and swam between them

I
look at you
in the first light of the morning
for as long as I can

march 14/RUN

4 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
43! degrees
100% soaked socks 25% deep puddles

Decided I was done running in the basement. I needed to get outside and be by the gorge and I didn’t care that everything was saturated with snow or ice or cold water. I’m very glad I went even if my socks got soaked before I left my block. My right shoe made this really cool squishing sound every time I took a step. Too bad I didn’t get a recording of the noise. Everything everywhere was so wet. Dripping. Gushing. Trickling. Seeping. Even the air. Almost 100% humidity. And the fog–wow. Thick. The river looked so beautiful with the fog hovering above the water that I actually gasped as I ran above it. Got to say good morning to the Man in Black. Encountered only one biker, their bike light cutting through the thick air. Heard some sirens but couldn’t see the flashing lights until they were almost right beside me. It started raining around the 2 mile point. A light rain that I hardly noticed. What I remember most about the run: the haunting, hovering fog

Fog
BY CARL SANDBURG

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

I do also remember encountering 2 dogs with their human, walking in the rain.

The Rainwalkers
Denise Levertov

An old man whose black face
shines golden-brown as wet pebbles
under the streetlamp, is walking two mongrel dogs of dis-
proportionate size, in the rain,
in the relaxed early-evening avenue.

The small sleek one wants to stop,
docile to the imploring soul of the trashbasket,
but the young tall curly one
wants to walk on; the glistening sidewalk
entices him to arcane happenings.

Increasing rain. The old bareheaded man
smiles and grumbles to himself.
The lights change: the avenue’s
endless nave echoes notes of
liturgical red. He drifts

between his dogs’ desires.
The three of them are enveloped –
turning now to go crosstown – in their
sense of each other, of pleasure,
of weather, of corners,
of leisurely tensions between them
and private silence.

Love the last sentence: “The three of them are enveloped–turning now to go crosstown–in their sense of each other, of pleasure, of weather, of corners, or leisurely tensions between them and private silence.” Enveloped. Such a better word than surrounded or consumed or covered or layered. In what was I enveloped today above the gorge?

march 11/RUN

3.2 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
24 degrees
65% snow-covered
25% rough, ice shard covered

Oh beautiful sun! It seemed much warmer than 24 degrees. Too bad it snowed a heavy, wet snow this weekend that melted and then refroze in sharp, jagged ruts or almost refroze in glassy, slippery surfaces on the path. So treacherous! I slipped a lot, but never fell. The hardest part was navigating the sidewalks for the 4 blocks to the river. Once on the river road path, it was easier. Some bare pavement and only a few stretches of jagged ice. It is very difficult to notice anything or think about anything or sink into a deeper layer of connection with the world when you have to focus so much attention on avoiding ice shards or mini ice rinks or deceptive puddles that are deeper than you think or slicker than you think. I did hear the geese honking. Smelled some almost burnt toast. Saw that the river was open along the east shore. No Daily Walker or Man in Black. Did see the older woman who walks with ski poles and a few speedy runners. A dog and its human. A bike–can’t remember if it was a fat tire.

The Chairs That No One Sits In
BY BILLY COLLINS

You see them on porches and on lawns
down by the lakeside,
usually arranged in pairs implying a couple

who might sit there and look out
at the water or the big shade trees.
The trouble is you never see anyone

sitting in these forlorn chairs
though at one time it must have seemed   
a good place to stop and do nothing for a while.

Sometimes there is a little table
between the chairs where no one   
is resting a glass or placing a book facedown.

It might be none of my business,
but it might be a good idea one day
for everyone who placed those vacant chairs

on a veranda or a dock to sit down in them
for the sake of remembering
whatever it was they thought deserved

to be viewed from two chairs   
side by side with a table in between.
The clouds are high and massive that day.

The woman looks up from her book.
The man takes a sip of his drink.
Then there is nothing but the sound of their looking,

the lapping of lake water, and a call of one bird
then another, cries of joy or warning—
it passes the time to wonder which.

I want to place my deck chairs on my deck and look out at the tree down the alley and try to hear the sound of me looking. What does that sound like? Also, I wonder, are the chairs forlorn? Maybe they are relieved to not have the burden of some human’s butt sitting heavily on them?

march 8/RUN

3.1 miles
mississippi river road path, north/south
24 degrees
75% snow-covered

Sun! Sun! Sun! Birds. Warmer air. Melting ice. Impending snowstorms. Soft, shifting, slick snow. A gaggle of gabbing geese. Good mornings exchanged with the man in black. 5 seconds of bare pavement–a jagged strip in the middle of the path. Ran without headphones. What did I hear? The geese, my ponytail gently hitting my jacket. What did I think about? How draining it was to run on the path, slipping in the snow. How much nicer it will be once the path is clear. Don’t remember smelling anything–no burnt toast drifting down from the grill on lake street.

Thinking again about layers. After a winter of double shirts and double running tights, I’m ready to have less of them. What freedom! But what layers can we never lose?

march 6/RUN

5.3 miles
franklin hill turn around
95% snow-covered
16 degrees/feels like 5

More sun. Blue sky. Birds chirping. But no snow melting. No bare pavement. No running on the walking path, dipping below the road, above the floodplain forest. Only running on the bike path right by the road. Wasn’t able to greet the Daily Walker because we were both running the same direction. Did get to say “good morning” to the man in black. Wow, he’s tall and lean and friendly. Heard the geese by the railroad trestle. Saw a spazzy squirrel dart across the road and the path. Listened to my vest rustling as I moved. Sounded like a soft brush on a snare drum. Wore my yaktrax again. The path was slick and slushy, making it harder to fly, especially as I ran up the franklin hill. The river was mostly covered with snow but as I neared the franklin bridge, it opened up and I could see gaping black holes. Encountered 2 fat tires and a walker–a woman bundled up with a mask over her mouth. No dogs. No snow blowers or trucks backing up. No cars revving their engines or disembodied voices traveling up from the gorge. I don’t remember thinking about anything as I ran–did I?

layers: green shirt, orange shirt, black jacket, black vest, hood, buff, gloves–which came off around mile 2.

Almost forgot–at some point, it started snowing big fluffy flakes. In my face as I ran south. Running under the interstate bridge I looked up and thought I saw them swirling like static–was it too much sun in my eyes or did they actually look like that? Watched a truck barrel across the interstate and wondered: do they see this staticky snow too? I liked the snow–looking at it, but not when it landed on my eyelashes. By the time I was done running, I think the sun was out again. Can you believe we might get another foot of snow this weekend?

I recently discovered Linda Hogan. She is amazing. Here are two poems from her collection, Rounding the Human Corners:

from Eucalyptus

Some of the religious say the five senses are thieves
so let’s say I am stolen
and like the tree I can lose myself
layer after layer
all the way down to infinity
and that’s when the world has eyes and sees.
The whole world
loves this unlayered human.

The Way In

Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, wounding,
and beauty.
To enter stone, be water.
To rise through hard earth, be plant
desiring sunlight, believing in water.
To enter fire, be dry.
To enter life, be food.