feb 27/RUN

3.2 miles
trestle turn around
26 degrees
100% clear!

Windy today. Not too crowded. Sunny. My legs felt weird for a mile or so–like they weren’t quite working. Heavy, plodding. Listened to a New Yorker poetry podcast with a poet I just discovered (Craig Morgan Teicher) and felt like I was in a dream. Barely on the path, floating, cocooned in layers, unable to hear birds or trickling water or striking feet. The river was open. Stopped and admired it by the trestle. Then turned on my new playlist. No Daily Walker but a few others walkers, at least one biker. Felt fast in the second half as I flew down the hill by the lake street bridge. Sprinted up the final hill. Don’t remember much from the run. What a wonderful thing it is to lose myself for 30 minutes!

Before I ran, I had a great morning. Started by listening to part of an episode with Victoria Change on Commonplace. At one point, they discuss their shifts in writing in first and third person which got me thinking about my own choice, in my latest project, to write in second person. Why am I using you? Who is you? Found some very interesting essays on second person online: Stuck on You: an ode the second person and the intimacy of writing in the second person in a bar. Then I started thinking about how Mary Oliver uses you, like in Wild Geese (You do not have to be good/you do not have to walk on your knees…). Finally I thought about who the I and the You are in my project. One answer: I = Teacher self and You = Student Self.

After all of that excellent thinking, I checked out twitter and found these lines from the poem Tomorrow and Tomorrow Again/Craig Morgan Teicher:

One cannot lock eyes with a bird,
its eyes vacant as ball bearings, but
mustn’t there be some recognition
in everything?

eyes vacant as black ball bearings? What a great line that reminds me of my own about not being able to see people’s pupils: “soul less black balls”. I looked Teicher up and found his poem, “Eye Contact”. I wondered, does he have macular degeneration or some other vision problem? Couldn’t find anything, but he sure does like referencing blindness. His poetry collection from 2012 is titled, To Keep Love Blurry and check out the titles he gave his NPR end of the year poetry reviews: “Keeping the Dark at Bay” and “In the Dark, The Eye Begins to See.” Hmm…I need to study his writing more. At this point, early on, I can’t decide what he’s doing with these references to blindness–is it signaling his own experiences/preoccupations with blindness or is it serving as metaphor, where blind = dark = bad = shame = grief = loss = death?

Tomorrow and Tomorrow Again/ Craig Morgan Teicher

Of course I don’t know what
happens to us: if we survive in the
hands of love; if Cal, if Simone
and all the trembling answers
those questions entail; whether
by time or by disease or by
an atom bomb right in the eye. Is it
possible death could be thrilling
and fun? And after could there be
something somewhere and what
will we do if we see each other
there? Will the same songs stay stuck
in our heads? Will medicine
succeed in making life so long
we will beg for medicine to end it?
One cannot lock eyes with a bird,
its eyes vacant as ball bearings, but
mustn’t there be some recognition
in everything? Some fury, some
questioning? If one phrase could echo
throughout eternity, would the ear
on the other side return
a word? But what am I asking?
Will I ever see a whale, and will his size
compared to mine be a true
form of knowledge? Loneliness
has depths writing fails to fathom.
I could be clearer, say more, but
it wouldn’t mean as much. Mother
will I ever find you again? Is fear
of spiders fair? Is a power
above minding the scales, be it
science or gods or the weather,
and can they be tipped toward
balance from here? Is beauty more
than another form of pleasure?
What, which, when, how is better?

Eye Contact/ Craig Morgan Teicher

As if bees are known for their pride.
But what’s so great about horses? They’re stuck 
on the earth except when they jump,

but even then they’re not bees.
But is there anything we value so highly 
as streetlights, which, unlike bees,

watch over us with their swan-like
necks and open their eyes at the right time 
every night? The answer is lonely

and whoever among us is brave enough 
to find it will come home to a family 
that won’t even look us in the eyes.


2

But what’s so great about eye contact? 
As if a horse knows a newspaper 
when he sees it. Streetlights don’t live

in hives; they’re not more afraid
of us than we are, fortified by stingers and swarms. 
Bees don’t brighten the alleyways

in which we commit our most heinous crimes 
to keep things moving and fill 
the papers with news. Why don’t we have

a holiday to recognize the alleyways?
The answer is lonely and whoever
among us is brave will have nowhere to jump.


3

Why don’t we sing a song that makes 
the bees proud? What’s so great 
about desolate meadows? The answer

is lonely. Why don’t we come home 
and look at our family? Why don’t we 
designate an hour to brag about news?

What’s so great about the way the papers 
blow through alleyways in the evening 
like deflated rats? As if pride could

brighten the meadows at night. Whoever 
among us is brave enough to forgive
a family gets to make eyes with a lonely horse.


4

As if the answer is flowers. As if 
we could gather streetlights
in a bouquet from the alleyways

and brighten family after 
beekeeping family. But what’s so 
great about seeing the truth?

Beneath every meadow is the earth’s 
molten core, red and hot as an evil eye. 
Why don’t we blow through the streets

at night? The answer is lonely, even 
if a horse knows the way home. 
What’s so great about being brave?


freeze-thaw, a different perspective

added in a few hours after I first posted this entry: Scrolling through my twitter feed, I encountered this very helpful, perspective-shifting idea from Paul Huttner on MPR Weather:

Temperatures over the next week look perfect for gradually reducing snowpack across the Upper Midwest. Days above the thawing point will melt snow. Nights below freezing mean that snowmelt will gradually be released into area rivers.

This gradual release helps mitigate the early-spring threat of flooding. Wow! All this time, I’ve been cranking about how much I hate these freeze-thaw cycles. I’m glad to read that they’re helpful. I still might not like how dangerous they make the path, but now I can get over myself and think about how they help the river. What a nice opportunity to shift my perspective. And, as a bonus: it will be warmer during the day next week!

feb 25/RUN

3.3 miles
ford bridge turn around
40 degrees

(Not sure about my dictation project. I don’t like doing the dictation inside and I’m already home. Maybe I should try it when it’s warmer outside?)

Another cycle of melting in the afternoon, re-freezing at night, frozen in the morning, melting in the afternoon. This sort of ice, just barely frozen, is the slickest and most dangerous. So I waited to run until after noon, when it had melted–12:13, to be exact (according to my apple watch). Had the wind at my back heading south, giving me a nice push. Kept thinking about how the wind would be in my face when I turned around. And it was, which made it harder. Noticed several new dips and cracks and holes in the path near 38th street. All the freezing and melting and re-freezing is hard on the asphalt. There was a deep puddle on the double-bridge, right where it bottoms out. Luckily I could climb on some snow to avoid it. Encountered a few walkers on the path. Saw an adult and a kid sitting on a bench, surrounded by snow. Heard, and briefly saw (I think) a runner below me on the Winchell trail. Noticed the river, open and flowing. The path right by the Ford bridge was terrible, almost completely covered in a thin, slick sheet of ice. When I turned around, I put in some headphones and listened to a new playlist. Heard, “Eye of the Tiger,” “Bad Guy,” “Juice,” “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Anything else I remember? I don’t remember hearing water gushing out of the sewer or kids at the school playground or music coming from a car or people talking loudly or geese honking or dogs barking. And I don’t remember having any deep thoughts or revelations. Did I?

Oh my god, this poem!

I want to read this book, and had requested it from the library, but I was unable to pick it up in time. I should request it again. I’m very glad that Our Poetica did a video of the text revealing itself as Diana Khoi Nguyen read it. So powerful!

Here’s another poem I found and copied into my green notebook on May 1st, 2019:

A Skull/ Dana Levin

is like a house
          with a brain inside. Another place
where eating
          and thinking
                     tango and spar—

At night
           you lean out, releasing
thought balloons.
           On the roof
                      someone stands ready

                      with a pin—

I’d like to put this poem and the idea of the skull as a house beside the two other poems with houses that I posted on feb 22.

feb 24/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin hill turn around
39 degrees
5% slick ice covered

Waited a little longer to go out running this morning. Needed to let the thin sheets of ice covering the puddles melt. A nice day for a run! Not too much wind, not too many people. Sun. Clear paths. I got my layers right today: 1 shirt, 1 vest, 1 pair of running tights, 1 headband, 1 pair of gloves, 1 pair of socks. It was warm enough today to smell the earth thawing–why does it smell like dog poop? I think I like the smell of death in the fall–the musty, mulching leaves–over the smell of life in the almost spring.

David Lee Roth is in town with KISS for a concert tonight. Scott read somewhere that he always brings his bike to Minneapolis and loves biking along the river. Today, I kept looking for him, hoping he’d bike by. No luck. Bummer.

Glanced down at the river a few times. Enjoyed hearing the sibilant sounds of my striking feet on the grit covered path. Ran hard up the hill, then stopped to a walk for a few minutes when I reached the bridge. Thought about the body that was found just north of this bridge early yesterday morning. Managed to mostly avoid the secret slippery spots where the water on the path was still frozen. Also managed to avoid getting soaked by cars rushing through big puddles on the road.

With less than a mile left, I had an idea about my current project and decided, even though I was running well, enjoying going faster, to stop and record my thoughts.

Uh oh.

Just tried to find and transcribe my voice memo, but it wasn’t there. I must have hit the wrong button when I was trying to record it. Here’s what I remember. For a few minutes before stopping, I was chanting. How to be/periphery, How to be/periphery. Then I realized: I need a (big) project to focus on, a project that involves structure and daily practice. A concrete project. This is the project I think I’m working on–and in many ways, it is what I’m working on–but, I’m also working on something else, off to the side, at the periphery, which is the real work I need/want to do. What a bummer. I feel like I can’t remember a key to my thought that helped it make sense. It connects with the article I read about how to be a procrastinator a few years ago, and with the idea of not approaching projects/thoughts/goals head on, but slant or sideways or sneakily (tricking your brain). Argh! I wish I hadn’t screwed up the recording.

My Weather/ Jane Hirshfield

Wakeful, sleepy, hungry, anxious,
restless, stunned, relieved.

Does a tree also?
A mountain?

A cup holds 
sugar, flour, three large rabbit-breaths of air.

I hold these.

What do I hold? Ever since I encountered the phrase, “inner and outer weather” (from a Frost poem about a tree at the window, via Edward Hirsch), I have been thinking about weather as metaphor for one’s mood/emotions/feelings. Love this poem and how it plays with this idea. And I love imagining how much air is 3 large rabbit-breaths worth. How big is this rabbit? And, in general, how big are rabbit breaths?

feb 23/RUN

3.1 miles
locks and dam #1 turn around
45 degrees
50% ice and puddle covered

note: no dictation today. Just as I started, Delia the dog ran in, barking and making lots of noise, which was fine because I wasn’t really feeling it anyway.

Today it was sunny and warm and sloppy and not as much fun. I do not regret going out for this run–well maybe my wet socks and shoes do!–but I would rank these conditions as some of the worst. Overcrowded paths, narrow strips of dry pavement in-between little lakes of cold, sometimes icy water. Very slick. Instead of feeling open and joyful and generous to everyone I encountered, I felt hostile and threatened–would they push me off into a puddle or a slick spot? I do not like feeling this way and I do not want to give too much space to my grumpy thoughts. So I won’t. Instead, here’s something very cool that I saw on my run today:

The river was still mostly white but at one spot, I think it was between 38th and 42nd somewhere, I noticed a path of open water winding across from the minneapolis to the st. paul side. It reminded me of a slithering snake. I love the strange patterns that open water makes when the ice cracks open. And I love the contrast between the frozen white and the darker water–black on cloudy days, brown on sunny ones.

Another thing I saw today that I liked: my shadow! She ran in front of me on my way back from the locks and dam.

I liked wearing less layers: only one pair of running tights, one neon yellow shirt, one vest.

I liked the squish squish squish my shoes made after I ran straight through the deep puddle on the double bridge.

I liked talking to the couple after my run who asked me how I could run on the ice. I’ve been asked this several times and I always say: “It’s easier to run on it then to walk on it. It’s when I stop running that I slip!”


Yesterday, I posted May Parton’s poem, The Work of Happiness. In her first stanza, she writes:

But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.

Here are a few things that her tree ring/circle made me think about:

1

Reflecting on how she always feels like she’s 11, even though she’s 64, Sandra Cisneros tells Krista Tippett:

You know how you look at a tree, and there are some rings that had a lot of rain, and it gets really bigger, and they shrink? Well, we can think about our own years and what defined us or what happened to us in those years.

2

In her poem, “Can You Imagine?”, Mary Oliver imagines a tree’s irritation with the slow, soundless, boring passing of time represented in the thickening of the rings:

Can You Imagine?/ Mary Oliver

For example, what the trees do
Not only in lightening storms
or in the watery dark of a summer night
or the white nets of winter
but now, and now, and now–whenever
we’re not looking. Surely you can’t imagine
they just stand there, looking like they look
when we’re looking; surely you can’t imagine
they don’t dance, from the root up, wishing
to travel a little, not cramped so much as wanting
a better view, or more sun, or just as avidly
more shade—surely you can’t imagine they just
stand there loving every
minute of it, the birds or the emptiness, the dark rings
of the years slowly and without a sound
thickening, and nothing different unless the wind,
and then only in it’s own mood, comes
to visit, surely you can’t imagine
patience, and happiness, like that.

3

Did you know the modern science of tree-ring study is called dendrochronology? I didn’t, until I read this essay, Shared Dendrochronologies: Andrew Schelling on poetry, translation, & the aliveness of wor(l)ds.

4

And that the original dendrochronologist, William E. Douglass, created it to track how trees record climate change through their rings?

What a wonderful log entry this is! Through the process of writing it, I feel better–joyful and delighted with my run today.

feb 22/RUN

5 miles
franklin hill turn around
32 degrees
20% snow and ice covered

Recorded my self on the voice memo app today a few hours after my run.

Log, 2/22/20

Here is the transcript:

Today I ran 5 miles. It was sunny and above freezing. It felt warm and there were puddles and barely ice patches on the path. I saw my shadow in front of me as I was running towards Franklin. I ran down the Franklin hill and then turned around and ran up until I got to the bridge. Then I stopped and walked for a couple of minutes. I encountered a lot of runners. I was able to greet Dave the Daily Walker. He was in short sleeves and no coat–of course. I saw some fat tires and a vee of geese at some point. The sky was blue. I didn’t notice any clouds. Around the time I started, the river all looked white to me but by the time I got to the Franklin bridge it was brown and open. I heard some kids down by the ravine, probably playing in the ice cave. I slipped several times on the ice but didn’t fall. I heard some crunching. I saw some salt stains on the path. I didn’t think about much. I remember counting to four. I remember feeling strong and relaxed and thinking I wasn’t going that fast, which was good, I was trying to go slow. And I don’t remember that much else about the run. I sprinted up the final hill and it was hard. But I thought that if I sprinted up this hill and I could do this and keep going when it was hard, that when I’m in a race, when I’m getting to the very end, if I can keep going and even pick it up and know that I will survive. Did I think about anything else? I don’t remember smelling much. I think there were a lot of cars. There were groups of walkers, usually in pairs, and sometimes that was frustrating to try and navigate that. I didn’t hear a train. I didn’t do any triple berry chants. I think I heard a woodpecker and I think I saw a bird up in the sky but I’m not sure. I don’t remember looking down to my favorite part of the path, looking down to the floodplain forest. I think that’s all I remember. It was a good run.

It is definitely harder to speak than to write. It feels like my details are a bit boring and I’m having trouble remembering quickly as I try to speak without out umms or ands. Will this get better, or is this a bad approach to remembering the details of my run? I’ll try it a few more times before I decide.

One other think I forgot to mention in my recording was all the runners I encountered running the Franklin hill. At least 5 or 6 seemed to doing hill work–running up it until reaching the bridge, then turning around and running back down it again. I would like to try this sometime. Maybe a slow, easy run to the hill, then a few times running up and down it–a goal for spring.

The Work of Happiness/ May Sarton

I thought of happiness, how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.

So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours
And strikes its roots deep in the house alone:
The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
As the free air moves quietly about the room;
A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall—
These are the dear familiar gods of home,
And here the work of faith can best be done,
The growing tree is green and musical.

For what is happiness but growth in peace,
The timeless sense of time when furniture
Has stood a life’s span in a single place,
And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir
The shining leaves of present happiness?
No one has heard thought or listened to a mind,
But where people have lived in inwardness
The air is charged with blessing and does bless;
Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.

Something about the idea of inwardness and the stable, single place of the thinking/deepening self as a house reminded me of another poem (Ash/ Tracy K. Smith) I heard last year on a podcast. These are very different poems, but I’d like to put them beside each other and think about them for a while.

Ash/ Tracy K. Smith

Strange house we must keep and fill.

House that eats and pleads and kills.

House on legs. House on fire. House infested

With desire. Haunted house. Lonely house.

House of trick and suck and shrug.

Give-it-to-me house. I-need-you-baby house.

House whose rooms are pooled with blood.

House with hands. House of guilt. House

That other houses built. House of lies

And pride and bone. House afraid to be alone.

House like an engine that churns and stalls.

House with skin and hair for walls.

House the seasons singe and douse.

House that believes it is not a house.

I found the podcast with Smith’s poem–On Being with Krista Tippett–and read the transcript where Smith talks about the poem and how her understanding of it has been transformed by how others have read it:

I wrote that poem thinking about the body, thinking about what it means to be alive in this human form and how strange it is that it’s temporary, that we are not just the body, but something else. That’s the way I’ve read it the first many times that I read it, or, at least, what I heard myself saying. But there’s a lot of ambiguity in the poem, and so people have questions about it. Someone has told me it feels like a poem that, more than just being in the body, is about being a woman and that sense of vulnerability and also sheltering something. Then, because a lot of these poems in this book are thinking about nationhood and American history, I was really excited to hear it described as a poem that is about the country as a house, and taking us back even to Abraham Lincoln in the sense of “a house divided against itself.” I love that active readers can give you a good enough argument to re-hear and see what you’ve made yourself.

So many ways to think about the inner, inwardness, the self, the body.

feb 19/RUN

4.2 miles
trestle turn around plus extra
5° feels like 4 below
50% snow and ice covered

A only slightly edited transcript of my notes about the run, dictated into my notes app on my phone.

A lot of slippery spots. Very sunny this morning. It felt really cold. About a mile in greeted Dave the daily walker. Almost yelled out to him, “it’s cold today!” He is hard-core–no coat again but some gloves. Running right before I got to the trestle I heard a beep beep beep beep beep beep beep sound. I wondered if it was the train and then after I crossed under the trestle and was still heading towards downtown, I heard the rumbling of a train. It lasted a long time. I thought about turning around and running back so I could see the train but I decided against it because I wanted to keep going north. I listened to the rumble and I couldn’t quite tell if it was coming from Saint Paul over to Minneapolis or from Minneapolis over to Saint Paul. I experimented with chanting in threes when I turned around and headed south again. Uppercut/ bowling ball/ sweaty brow Then I started chanting in triple berries: raspberry/ blueberry/ red berry/ green berry pink berry/ orange berry/ blueberry/ raspberry/ gooseberry/ mulberry I chanted them over and over again to try and keep a steady rhythm. I saw a couple other runners, a few walkers. I thought I heard some kids yelling in the gorge but then I realized it was geese honking.

thoughts about dictating running notes

  • Not sure if I like the notes app for this. It was a bit awkward and I think (at least I hope) it added in some random words.
  • I write much better than I speak.
  • I need to stop feeling so self conscious doing this. I also need to be more deliberate and thoughtful in what I say.
  • I still have to add in periods and capitals, which is irritating.
  • This is a good exercise for me. I need to get used to doing something that someday might be necessary.

The Blink Reflex/ Rick Barot

I have this notion that if you live long enough,
there are three or four great stories that you will have in your life.

A story of a journey or a transformation.
A story of love, which will likely mean the loss of love, a story

of loss. And a story of spiritual illumination,
which, for many, will probably be the moment of death itself,

the story untellable, its beginning and middle
and end collapsing with its teller into a disappearing conclusion.

I have believed long enough in my notion
to know that it is a romantic notion, that it erodes each time

I realize that the shard and not the whole
comprises a life, the image and not the narrative. Otherwise,

there’s no reason why all I remember of the airplane
I took as a child from one country to another

is the moist towelette packet we were given with our meal,
the wonder and absurdity of it. Or that, in love,

high in a tree in the dark, and high, he and I sat in the rain-damp
branches and ate 7-Eleven donuts. Or this, this piece

of a story that isn’t even mine, that isn’t even a story
but a glance of an experience, of the friend who held the stray

dog after it was struck by a car. Not knowing whether the dog
was dead, my friend called a friend

who worked for a vet. Poke the dog in the eye, this friend said.
Because if the animal no longer has a blink reflex,

it probably means the animal is dead. Decades after
college, when you could do such a thing, I typed his name

into a search engine to find out what became of the 18-year-old
boy from the tree. Like dozens of old keys

in a drawer, so many of the wrong people with the right name.
The child dead from leukemia, with a school gym

named for him. The wrestler who had a perfectly square jaw,
like a cartoon police detective in a fedora.

When I arrived at a page that was certainly
about him, I no longer knew the face, but I recognized the life

that he had had. He had transferred to
another college, gone to film school, and become a producer

of TV documentaries. A film about fishermen, the harsh fishing
season in Alaska. A film about Abraham Lincoln

and a film about the last days of Adolf Hitler.
A film about the Sherpas who go up and down the Himalayas.

What a beautiful poem. I love the title and the way the stories/fragments are woven together and the sweet, soft rhyme of “and high, he and I” and the playing with the romantic notion that we each only have 3 or 4 great stories.

feb 18/BIKE

bike: 35 minutes
bike stand, basement

Snowed 2 super slippery inches last night. That, combined with my slightly sore ankle, meant I needed to bike in the basement today. No sun. No gorge. No birds chirping, although I can hear them outside of my window. Also, no wind. No frozen fingers. No falling on slick ice. Finished the last 20 minutes of the final episode of Cheer. Time to find another show.

Notes on Un-Apology/ Erin Slaughter

once I owned a wooden door
& a field of ice & I was big-hearted, gentle, prefaced
my friends’ names with sweet & kissed them
on the cheeks. once a man called me brilliant & all I wanted
was to be his little wife. for him to trap me
in a wooden home, to zip me up pretty, kiss
me in the kitchen while mushrooms screamed & withered
on the stove. I am beginning to think of the color green
as a last chance that has already passed & I’m sorry
to be so full of raining. but if I could carve a notch
into the lampposts of this city for every person who said home
like it was a promise. we are fools & monsters, all of us, cobweb-headed
& waiting for rupture. once I met a man & his words
unearthed a softness that only comes from loam, from tilling
gently at a gravesite. sometimes we talk about weather
& sometimes we talk about feelings. sometimes
I worry I’m not looking for love, that I’m looking
for a religion to have sex with. in my mouth lives a bitterness
that could draw blood, & I’m sorry but two years I searched
for the river & when I finally found it, it was dead with its palms up.
I dipped my hands in its broken jaw & called it sister. I haven’t spoken
to my sister in two years, a nurse in Texas
with a daughter & a cruelty that jingles
like silver on a charm bracelet. I want to tell you starfish, I want
to tell you dark orchids climbing the windowpane.
the moon would drown trying to drink up
all the things I want. I’m sorry you never learned
the recipe to my mornings. I still think of you when the sky shudders
& floorboards hush themselves to listen.

Wow. I remember reading this poem a year ago and really liking the last line: “& floorboards hush themselves to listen.” Why didn’t I post it? Reading it again a year later, I love it even more. “sometimes we talk about weather & sometimes we talk about feelings.” I think I want to make that a title for a poem. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about inner and outer weather and the dis/connections between the weather I’m running in and my mood.

feb 8/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around
15 degrees/feels like 5
100% clear

Ran a little later today because Scott and I had to take our daughter to the Mall of America this morning. After a month of begging us, we finally caved. That place is the opposite of the gorge. Tight, confined. Too many people moving too slow and too fast. Too bright. Too many big words everywhere. Too much consumption. Too many sickly sweet, overpowering smells. Energy zapping. Water sapping. Soul sucking. I’ve never really liked shopping but now that my vision is bad, it’s very difficult, especially at the mall. Draining. Today’s trip was one of the better ones. Probably because we only stayed for an hour. There was a moment, near the Rotunda. A dance performance, accompanied by a recording of some cheesy, sappy piano music (some popp-y thing that I should remember but can’t). Passing near the roller coaster, listening to the overly loud, overly sentimental music, watching Scott and my daughter walk ahead, I felt this dreamy, detached sense of joy. Why? Of course, after that happy moment, I had my most disturbing one in Pac Sun: a brand called John Galt is selling a Brave New World t-shirt. Wow.

Felt good to run this afternoon in the sun. Colder today so I wore more layers, including a buff, a hood, and a black cap. Too much. The path was clear and not too crowded with walkers or bikers or runners. Admired the river several times. My best view was about 30 seconds south of the trestle. High up on the bluff, the trees opened up and I had such an open, broad, beautiful view of the river and the floodplain forest and the east side of the river, which at this point, between lake and franklin, is in Minneapolis and not St. Paul. Can’t remember much else about the run. Felt tired at the end, but still sprinted up the final hill. Noticed a dog and its human hiking on the snow-packed path near the 2 fences and 2 walls that I’ve written about. Heard some kids. My feet shuffling on gravel. Some spring-y birds, trilling and chirping. Running out from under lake street bridge, I sensed the shadow of a runner up above on the bridge, traveling across the railing. A cool visual effect. Noticed my shadow ahead of me as I ran north. When I stopped briefly at the turn around, I noticed her hiking on the Winchell trail in the gorge below. Heard some geese, honking away. Couldn’t tell if they were hanging out under the bridge or flying above me in the air.

Thinking about uncertainty and bewilderment in poetry today. Yesterday I encountered–not the for the first time–Keat’s description of negative capabilities to his brother in a letter from 1917:

capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason

So many interesting parallels with my idea of staying in trouble as virtue–staying in a space of (somewhat) uncomfortable, unsettling unknowingness. It makes so much sense to me that I’m really getting into poetry. I like how poetry takes this space of trouble/unknowingness/uncertainty and infuses it with joy and wonder.

This poem! I love Maggie Smith.

Threshold/ Maggie Smith

You want a door you can be
            on both sides of at once.

                       You want to be
           on both sides of here

and there, now and then,
            together and—(what

                       did we call the life
            we would wish back?

The old life? The before?)
            alone. But any open

                       space may be
            a threshold, an arch

of entering and leaving.
            Crossing a field, wading

                       through nothing
            but timothy grass,

imagine yourself passing from
            and into. Passing through

                       doorway after
            doorway after doorway.

Love the line, “any open/space may be/a threshold, an arch/of entering and leaving.” For some time now, I’ve been thinking about the river road/running path as such a treshold, where threshold = beside/s space.

feb 8/BIKERUN

bike: 30 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.2 miles
treadmill, basement

Decided to do a workout in the basement today. Partly because of the dusting of snow we got last night, partly because I wanted to watch more Cheer, which I did while I biked. Then, while I ran, I listened to Jad Abumrad’s podcast about Dolly Parton called Dolly Parton’s America. So good. Right now, I’m listening to episode 4–or is it 5? I have loved Dolly Parton ever since she yelled at her boss in 9 to 5, calling him “evil to the core.” I loved that movie when I was kid. I even taught it in the spring of 2007 in my Pop Culture Women course.

A Study in Eventuality/ Cristina Correa

Funny, isn’t it, how hard to describe
a good man? In the shower, I let
the water run hot as my blood filtering
a mirror of loss. The messenger arrived
flustered as feathers falling to the place
where feathers go to find each other. Who
is the man who makes you remark, “I have
been lucky”? How does the faucet instruct
forgiveness? Our voices spiral to meet
with too much space between. My cuticles
shine like chrome under the moment’s remains.
A demand for nakedness pools somewhere
down the drain. For what we’ve been able to
let go, and know it happens to us all.

I was struggling to understand this poem until I read her description, which really helped (find it on the poets.org link). “How does the faucet instruct forgiveness?” What a line!

feb 6/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/south
27 degrees
100% clear

1

Sun! Sun! Sun! Didn’t realize how much I was missing the sun until it came back and I was able to see shadows everywhere.

2

Heard the birds as I was heading to the river and thought about how clichéd it seems to mention chirping birds and then that I still like mentioning them and then how I wish I could identify birds better or had better words for describing their sound and then that the simple word, “bird” and the sound description “chirp” still give me a thrill so I’m fine not searching for fancier words right now. I’ll spend my time enjoying the sound of birds chirping. Of course, now that I have made this declaration I had to look up synonyms for chirp: cheep, peep, trill, warble, and purl. Purl fascinates me. So many definitions and room for synonyms! I always thought of it in terms of knitting, but it also can be defined as:

  1. a purling, swirling stream or rill (a gentle brook)
  2. a gentle murmur or movement (purling water)
  3. to make the soft, murmuring sound like that of a purling stream

3

Greeted Dave the Daily Walker. Admired the floodplain forest. No snow on the trees today, just carpeting the floor. The river had a few ice floes but was mostly open. Ran into the wind. It felt hard. Heard my breathing and my feet shuffling on the grit. Stopped for a almost a minute to put my headphones in at the turn around. Ran back a little faster. Sprinted up the final hill. Did I look foolish to the drivers? Why do I care? Forgot to look down at the ravine at the end of my run.

4

Trying to remember some deep and helpful thought I had as I was starting out. I remember thinking, “Oh, that’s good. I should remember that.” Now I can’t remember it.

5

Last night, driving on the river road in the winter dark of early evening, I noticed runners on the path, some running in packs, others alone. Some with headlamps, others with super bright reflective shirts. I said to Scott and my daughter, “I always say I would never want to run at night, that it would be miserable, but I also used to say that about cold winter running and I love it now. Maybe if I tried running at night, I’d love it too?” Then, Scott said, “But how can you run in the dark with your vision?” And my daughter added, “and because you’re a woman?” Sigh. A sad truth. My failing vision is a bummer, but I see my fear as a woman running in the dark by herself as much more of a burden/hindrance.

6

Randomly found this poem and I love it. I was drawn to the title, wondering what the hell it meant. Then the first stanza sucked me in.

I Heart Your Dog’s Head/ Erin Belieu

I’m watching football, which is odd as
I hate football
in a hyperbolic and clinically revealing way,
but I hate Bill Parcells more,
because he is the illuminated manuscript
of cruel, successful men, those with the slitty eyes of ancient reptiles,
who wear their smugness like a tight white turtleneck,
and revel in their lack of empathy
for any living thing.
So I’m watching football, staying up late to watch football,
hoping to witness (as I think of it)
The Humiliation of the Tuna
(as he is called),
which is rightly Parcells’s first time back in the Meadowlands
since taking up with the Cowboys,
who are, as we all know,
thugs, even by the NFL’s standards. The reasons

I hate football are clear and complicated and were born,
as I was, in Nebraska,
where football is to life what sleep deprivation is
to Amnesty International, that is,
the best researched and most effective method
of breaking a soul. Yes,
there’s the glorification of violence, the weird nexus
knitting the homo, both phobic and erotic,
but also, and worse, my parents in 1971, drunk as
Australian parrots in a bottlebush, screeching
WE’RE #1, WE’RE #1!
when the Huskers finally clinched the Orange Bowl,
the two of them
bouncing up and down crazily on the couch, their index
fingers jutting holes through the ubiquitous trail of smoke rings
that was the weather in our house,
until the whole deranged mess that was them,
my parents, the couch, their lit cigarettes,
flipped over backward onto my brother and me. My husband
thinks that’s a funny story and, in an effort to be a “good sport,”
I say I think it is, too.

Which leads me to recall the three Chihuahuas
who’ve spent the fullness of their agitated lives penned
in the back of my neighbor’s yard.
Today they barked continuously for 12 minutes (I timed it) as
the UPS guy made his daily round.
They bark so piercingly, they tremble with such exquisite outrage,
that I’ve begun to root for them, though it’s fashionable
to hate them and increasingly dark threats
against their tiny persons move between the houses on our block.
But isn’t that what’s wrong with this version of America:
the jittering, small-skulled, inbred-by-no-choice-
of-their-own are despised? And Bill Parcells—
the truth is he’ll win
this game. I know it and you know it and, sadly,
did it ever seem there was another possible outcome?

It’s a small deposit,
but I’m putting my faith in reincarnation. I need to believe
in the sweetness of one righteous image,
in Bill Parcells trapped in the body of a teacup poodle,
as any despised thing,
forced to yap away his next life staked to
a clothesline pole or doing hard time on a rich old matron’s lap,
dyed lilac to match her outfit.

I love the way the final stanza brings it all together. And I love the small deposit of faith and “doing hard time on a rich old matron’s lap, dyed lilac to match her outfit” and “But isn’t that what’s wrong with this version of America:/ jittering, small-mulled, inbred-by-no-choice-/ of-their-own are despised?”