nov 18/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/south
33 degrees

A good run. A little harder at the beginning, a littler easier at the end. Stopped at the 2 mile mark to put in my headphones and listen to a playlist. The sky was gray, the gorge gold, rust, light brown. Was able to notice several of the sewer pipes sticking out of the steep slope. Thought about crossing the lake street bridge but didn’t at the last minute because a car was coming. Looked down at the river from high above, noticing the patches of snow. At some point during the run, caught the slightly sickly sweet of mulching leaves. After finishing, stood still and stared hard at the forest below, breathing in the colors and the space and the soft fuzzy shapes. The tall rock didn’t have rocks on it, but a dead squirrel?–not sure, I didn’t want to stare too hard and my vision is not great these days.

The Crazy Woman by Gwendolyn Brooks

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

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

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

I love this little poem and the idea of wanting to sing in November instead of May. Not sure what a song of gray would sound like, but maybe I’ll go out and sing one tomorrow? Why wouldn’t I? Perhaps one of the reasons I like November is that it is unloved by so many–not so much because I want to give it love (even though I do) but because it’s less crowded out here–just us crazy people.

nov 16/RUN

3.3 miles
trestle turn around
45 degrees
16 mph wind

Warmer but so windy! Seems like a theme for this week: running straight into the wind. Today my visor almost came off at least 3 times. 2 times I had to stutter step to avoid stupid squirrels darting in front of me. The view of the river from my favorite part of the trail was beautiful–so much to see, not hidden behind leaves. Felt much colder than 45 but I was still overdressed with 2 shirts, tights and shorts. Encountered several groups of walkers, a few runners, some bikers. No roller skiers. Was pelted by leaves swirling in the wind. Don’t remember any distinctive noises–no headphones for the first half, running playlist as I returned.

The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee
BY N. SCOTT MOMADAY

I am a feather on the bright sky
I am the blue horse that runs in the plain
I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water
I am the shadow that follows a child
I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows
I am an eagle playing with the wind
I am a cluster of bright beads
I am the farthest star
I am the cold of dawn
I am the roaring of the rain
I am the glitter on the crust of the snow
I am the long track of the moon in a lake
I am a flame of four colors
I am a deer standing away in the dusk
I am a field of sumac and the pomme blanche
I am an angle of geese in the winter sky
I am the hunger of a young wolf
I am the whole dream of these things

You see, I am alive, I am alive
I stand in good relation to the earth
I stand in good relation to the gods
I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful
I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte
You see, I am alive, I am alive

nov 11/RUN

3.2 miles
trestle turn around
14 degrees/feels like -3/18 mph wind

First cold run of the season. It didn’t feel like -3 to me, but it still felt cold and difficult. Ran straight into the wind heading north. Wore too many layers–two pairs of running tights, two pairs of socks, gloves, mittens, two shirts, vest, jacket, buff, hat. Was sweating a lot by the end. Listened to a playlist. Saw 2 or 3 walkers and one runner. No squirrels or birds. Several planes in the sky. Maybe the outline of the moon. Hard to tell with the bright blue sky and my vision. Saw my shadow–she didn’t mind being out here. The walking path that winds through the tunnel of trees was covered in snow–not slippery at all. Too cold maybe? My third mile was 35 seconds faster. Thanks wind! (It was at my back, gently urging me along.) Walking before I started I took a deep breath–such wonderfully cold & fresh air! Read a twitter thread about using and or & in poetry. I like using & when I imagine that the two items being joined are partners or friends or a pair of co-conspirators or two halves of one particular whole or a comedy team/musical duo.

So many great things to read this morning before my run. In addition to the twitter thread about the ampersand, I read an excellent excerpt of Jane Alison’s book, Meander, Spiral, Explore: Design Pattern in Narrative in The Paris Review. She writes about using forms found in nature (rivers, spirals, twisted branches) to structure stories/narrative. I started thinking about seeps and springs and eroding limestone, twisted and gnarled branches, water slowly dripping out of the sewer drain, weathered tree trunks, mulching asphalt. What sorts of poems could I make from these forms?

Started the morning by reading a poem which plays with the different meanings of bluff–river bluff, to bluff. I’m going to spend some more time listing of the different meanings of bluff in this poem. How might it work for me to use gorge in a similar way?

Self-Portrait as a Series of Bluffs
Chris Hayes

Boys I loved to follow in the dark climb up
find me on that bluff above the river
muddy swirl sparked with stars I felt
something break apart my head saying
hang back they won’t love you like you love them
you’ll have to pedal home bewildered again
recall your icy chest how a startled dove
exploded out of the sleeve wind made of a shaken tree
when one of them leapt from so high up
you thought he’d die before he swam back to you
the bluff was that it happened that way the bluff
is that anytime I spat the word pussy
on the basketball court with those boys I wanted that
plosive sound on my tongue and nothing else
*
Born in a valley of bluffs,
I return to a bluff
cracked open by Union cannonballs,
called Red Paint Hill instead of Look at All This Blood;
bluff that accepted the wheels of a truck going over,
consumed by fire;
bluff overlooking a baptism,
the river that swallows a brief Hallelujah.
*
So I kept alive easy enough there in the smallness of wounds
I carried like everyone else and waited for nothing to change.
So I met a girl, got married and had kids and went with it until
something else broke or I did or it didn’t feel like love at all,
and by then it was too late. Stroll the baby, feed the horses,
lie down next to a woman estranged from all she wanted
because of me. Imagine it. Such a small house and no wish
fulfilled within it. I have regrets. To bluff: to say: to not.
*
Bluff meaning husband and forever;
bluff that hides a cave with a mattress inside
covered in lovesick graffiti,
where I reached for a boy’s hand then pulled back;
to bluff around the bush; to bluff up the wrong tree.
*
Eros an empty locker room.
Eros a jockstrap.
Earthy smell
I lingered undressing
to be nearer to.
And afterward, the slick,
steam-whittled showers
mystical with heat
held me there. Hang back.
Some beginning
with an end inside—
small-town fear. A boy
dragged behind a truck
was in the news.
I didn’t want to be the news.
*
Bluff no helicopter can reach when the suicidal leap,
posted with a sign: NO TRESPASSING;
bluff haunted even in daylight;
King’s Bluff, where I got laid, or said I got laid;
bluff of the tourism slogan “Gateway to the New South”;
bluff of the backward glance,
of our youth pastor saying I’ll jump (not a bluff).
*
This other misdirection—
I’ve slept my way into so many rooms.
Marriage den, motel of my affair.
And it was never about the greasy,
incessant need of two people
fucking only for lust.
When I felt alone, there was always
a man or woman ready
to deadbolt the door behind us
for an hour, to give or receive,
then leave with nothing.
Cherry pits, an empty bottle of wine.
*
Bluff where I lost my keys, my nerve;
bluff I carry like a nail in the roof of my mouth;
bluff that says This is all I want.
*
I walk in late winter
some unscripted ledge
leading down to the river.
Landscape as wish.
Look at the way the bluff
breaks and holds, like desire.
Look: no doves or boys,
only a hunk of rock
somebody gave a name
because they wanted a way back to it.

nov 8/RUN

3.2 miles
ford bridge turn around
25 degrees

Heading south at the start, ran straight into the wind. Even though I was listening to a playlist, I could hear chainsaws below in the oak savanna. Must be clearing out dead limbs. Sometime soon, I’ll have to check out what they’ve done. Stared down at the river through the bare trees. Sparkling in the sun. The river is beautiful in November. As I continued south, I noticed how much of the Winchell Trail I could see. No leaves on the trees to hide it. The ravine below the double bridge at 44th looked empty and endless. Made it to the ford bridge and turned around. No wild turkeys here today. What did I think about? Can’t remember. Noticed a jogger with a bright yellow shirt on, glowing in the distance. Oh, I almost forgot–the leaves! Leaves swirling in the air looking like birds, circling the sky then dive-bombing me. I was hit in the face at least twice with their brittle sharpness.

Elms
BY LOUISE GLÜCK

All day I tried to distinguish
need from desire. Now, in the dark,
I feel only bitter sadness for us,
the builders, the planers of wood,
because I have been looking
steadily at these elms
and seen the process that creates
the writhing, stationary tree
is torment, and have understood
it will make no forms but twisted forms.

Found this poem through a podcast about Louise Glück: No Forms but Twisted Forms. I love twisted forms–on trees and in poetry. I’d like to think some more about this poem. In the podcast, one of the speakers mentions the idea of looking and not looking away, of being still and staring at twisting and writhing. I like these ideas of staying, staring, being still, not turning away from that which is painful, uncomfortable.

nov 6/BIKERUN

bike: 18 minutes
stand, basement

run: 1.2 miles
treadmill, basement

Biked then ran in the basement this morning. Partly to cross train, partly to avoid the snow outside. Only a dusting but cold and windy. Didn’t mind it, but I’m glad I don’t run in the basement very often.

God on the Treadmill
BY BENJAMIN S. GROSSBERG

Sometimes it takes miles to give up resistance,
though the mirror shows a body unresisting, shows
perhaps something to admire. Others may.
A body without difficulty loosening, breaking
its own willfulness, cracking itself
like a rusted bolt that finally begins to turn.
A body that turns. Toward openness, fantasy,
those desires of and not of the body. Sometimes
I notice a powerful man engaged steadily
repeating difficult action: folding himself, his tight
skin, over and over, lifting a declined torso
or pulling up a suspended trunk, and think,
how neat, how controlled to be inside that body.
I struggle not to stare, grip myself not to lose myself
inside the thought of being inside that body.
I can never get there I know because it is
the image I want, the veneer of muscle
having taken primacy from mind, now first
among equals: bicep, abdominal, quadricep,
the launch after launch of a perpetual run.
I want the image even when I am it, or nearly it—
because even then, I am also that other thing,
self-conscious, burdened, struggling for movement.

If there is a link between God and animals—
the way He identifies with the so much
that isn’t us, as He had to have, to have made them—
it must be in the body enacting will immediate
through movement, as if with a word
creating a world (enacting creation immediate
through speech). Which is to say, this is my time
of prayer, my only time: miles in, as long
as it takes for the body to relinquish resistance.
Bright, public, surrounded by others who move
toward better movement. And all the while seeing
in a wall of mirrors that image of myself, deer,
horse, running close kin to breathing, motion
necessary to survival, perfect image of a man
that I’m merely a self-conscious copy of.
I pray for things, of course, for myself
and for those whose pain touches me, selfish
and unselfish prayers for intimates and strangers.
I pray for the runner in the mirror, too, sleek, easy
animal, unselfconscious and present, and absent
as a god, the man who could almost be me,
who I do my best to rush toward. I pray that
one day, by His grace, we may meet.

nov 4/RUN

10K
franklin hill turn around
38 degrees/snow/rain

Before leaving, I checked the temperature. I checked the wind speed. But I didn’t check the chance of precipitation. Felt a few drops of liquid as I started my run but wasn’t worried. Then around mile 2 1/2 or 3, it started to snow/sleet/rain. I couldn’t really feel it on my face, so I didn’t care. It was pretty and wild looking, running under the bridge at the bottom of the hill and seeing the white suddenly stop, then start again after the bridge. I ran up the entire hill (all .4ish miles of it!), trying to keep myself relaxed by looking at the snow, smiling at the approaching cars and chanting about going slower to keep my heart rate lower. Encountered a gaggle of geese and lots of poop in the flats. Studied the river as it slowly moved south. Greeted the Daily Walker. Turned on my playlist when I reached the trestle for the last mile and a half. Don’t remember thinking about anything except my left knee hurts a little, then, my right thigh is tight, then, my side aches. Almost stopped to walk during my side cramp but then decided to slowly run down the hill instead. It only lasted a minute or two. A rare victory.

Found this great segment about a visual artist who visits the gorge at least twice a week and paints the beautiful trees. Love it! A Heritage of Trees Alison Price is an amazing artist. Here’s one from her Witnessing Waves series:

Almost forgot: a few days ago, I discovered that conspire not only means to scheme, but to breathe together. Nice–I love multiple meanings for words related to breathing (like inspiration, expiration). Also, while looking it up on merriam webster was struck by its second meaning: to act in harmony toward a common end. So many poetic possibilities! Today we–me and the welcoming oak trees and the slowly flowing river and the Daily Walker and the gathering geese and the airy amphitheater above the floodplain forest–conspired to make this morning more than mundane.

nov 2/RUN

3 miles
trestle turn around
34 degrees

A dusting of snow on the ground, flurries in the air. Gloomy–not gray but white. Yellow and brown on the ground. Swirling wind. Not a bad run. Heard a roller skier slowly approaching me for a few minutes. Click clack click clack. Encountered some other runners. No fat tires or Daily Walker. Lots of cars on the road for a Saturday. Don’t remember looking at the river at all, but I must have. Didn’t I?

Earlier this morning, while reading a review on LitHub, I encountered this phrase:

…whose apertures present as door and window offering a way ‘in’ to language.

This got me thinking more about ways in and aperture as opening, hole, gap. What are some ways in? Doors, windows, fissures, gaps, cracks, seeps, leaks, holes, openings, breaches, chasms, chinks, gashes, gaps, vents, slots, slits, passages, crevices, mouths, orifices, ruptures, rifts, gates, gateways, portals, entryways. These things offer entry but they also offer escape, ways out. Reviewing one of older notebooks, I found these lines from a Jenny Xie poem:

My father taught me wherever you are,
always be looking for way out: this opening
or that one, or a question sharp enough
to slice a hole for you to slip through.

“Zuihitsu” from Eye Level, jenny xie

A way in is also a way out, an entrance is an escape, a window a portal. A few more random bits about ways in, ways out:

I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple–or a green field–a place to enter, and in which to feel.

Upstream/mary oliver

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.

Rounding the Human Corners/linda hogan

oct 29/RUN

4 miles
two trails + falls
33 degrees

Sitting here, post-run, writing this log entry, I’m watching the leaves falling like snow off the tall maple tree in my front yard. Very calming. Another nice run where I felt strong. So little green around now, just red and orange and yellow and brown and dull purple. Crossed the road, entered the path and twisted my foot slightly on a stick or an acorn or something hiding in the leaves. Thankfully no injury. Ran south to the falls on the trail next to the road. Encountered some roller skiers–one almost ran into me, some other runners, walkers. Noticed some kids across the parkway at their school playground, lined up, ready to go somewhere or do something, not sure where or what. Made it to the falls and saw (but didn’t hear because I was listening to music) the gushing, spraying water. Wow, Minnehaha Creek is high and rushing so fast towards the river. Looped around the park and headed north again. At the 44th street parking lot, took out my headphones, turned down the hill, and entered the Winchell Trail. Beautiful and dangerous. So many cracks and sticks and nuts hiding under the fallen leaves. Encountered some walkers/hikers and at least 2 other runners. Looked down at the river, when I could. Didn’t trip or fall or twist anything. I enjoy the trail running–wish I could do more of it.

The Cave
BY PAUL TRAN

Someone standing at the mouth had
the idea to enter. To go further

than light or language could
go. As they followed
the idea, light and language followed

like two wolves—panting, hearing themselves
panting. A shapeless scent
in the damp air …

Keep going, the idea said.

Someone kept going. Deeper and deeper, they saw
others had been there. Others had left

objects that couldn’t have found their way
there alone. Ocher-stained shells. Bird bones. Grounded
hematite. On the walls,

as if stepping into history, someone saw
their purpose: cows. Bulls. Bison. Deer. Horses—
some pregnant, some slaughtered.

The wild-
life seemed wild and alive, moving

when someone moved, casting their shadows
on the shadows stretching
in every direction. Keep going,

the idea said again. Go …

Someone continued. They followed the idea so far inside that
outside was another idea.

I love the line breaks in this poem and light and language as 2 panting wolves and an idea as something that talks to us and pushes us to keep going and the Someone who stood at the mouth and entered, then kept going deeper, and the last line about following the idea so far inside that outside was another idea. For over a year, I’ve been thinking about the relationship between inside and outside and how it works for me as I run by the gorge. What is inside and what is outside? And then, what about being beside–not in or out but next to? Two questions I’m ruminating on right now: Why am I resistant to going deeper and deeper in–and is this resistance a bad thing?

oct 21/BIKERUN

bike: 15 minutes
basement stand

I’m calling it. No more biking outside this year. Brought my bike inside this morning and put it on the stand in the basement. Rode it for 15 minutes while watching Super League Triathlon in Malta–love these races!

run: 3 miles
trestle turn around
54 degrees
humidity: 85%

I could write about the many leaves that had fallen in the wind and rain and were littering the path or how it felt like it was still raining with all the water dropping from the trees or the strange quality of the light–dark at first, a light slowly spreading, then sunshine–or seeing the forest floor a few times or turning around at the trestle and racing the cars crawling their way through the four way stop or actually enjoying running into the stiff wind, a big grin on my face or stopping, at the end, to study the ravine and being able to clearly see the wrought iron fence. I could, but all I really want to mention are the two turkeys I saw crossing Edmond Boulevard as I walked home through my neighborhood. The one in front was running fast, bobbing its head, while the second, smaller one tried to keep up. Did you know that turkeys could run fast? I didn’t. As I watched them run away I thought that seeing them run so quickly, with their graceful legs and awkward heads, was all I needed today. How cool!

Found this poem/essay this morning via twitter. I like the form of the Venn Diagram.

When the Light Betrays Us Twice/Marisa Crane

oct 20/RUN

2.8 miles
trestle turn around
69 degrees

Crossed the road and entered the path right after two runners going only slightly slower than me. Sped up to pass them and then ran too fast for the rest of the time. Lots of people out, taking in the intense yellow leaves. Beautiful. Ended the run then walked down the gravel path just past the overlook to the spot above the ravine. Noticed the river and listened to the water trickling out of the sewer pipe and then down a small stream to a limestone ledge. Just beneath the ledge the dripping water had carved out a cave. And just beneath that was another sewer pipe, stretching along the forest floor to the river. At one time, this pipe had been buried, covered in dirt, but erosion had exposed it–how long ago?

oct 16/RUN

4.5 miles
Franklin Bridge turn around
45 degrees

45 degrees is a great temperature to run in. Lots of yellow leaves. More red appearing now too. My favorite spot above the gorge is thinning out a bit more. No forest floor yet, but soon. Everywhere, I can see something. At one point I wondered, which will come first: the snow, closing the walking path or bare leaves, revealing the view? Saw a spazzy squirrel cross in front of the runner just ahead. Unlike me, he didn’t flinch or stutter step when this happened. No Daily Walker or roller skiers or fat tires or geese. Once I thought I saw a duck by the side of the path but it was just some fallen branches. This was a very good run–I felt strong and joyful and in harmony with my knees and lower left back. We all love October running.

When I stopped running, I walked to the overlook and climbed up on the wall, trying to see the river. Still partially blocked by leaves, but not for long! Also checked out the ravine, walking along the edge, peering down through the planks in the split rail fence into maple basswood forest. Even when the leaves are gone, there won’t be much to see. You have to climb down the broken wooden steps or hike down the crushed limestone path to see and hear it. Two small falls, one made from concrete, the other stone, drip (almost dribble) down to the forest floor and an old sewer pipe you can walk on. Lots of erosion here. Before the snow hits, I’d like to hike down into this ravine and explore it.

Practice
Ellen Bryant Voigt

To weep unbidden, to wake
at night in order to weep, to wait
for the whisker on the face of the clock
to twitch again, moving
the dumb day forward—

is this merely practice?
Some believe in heaven,
some in rest. We’ll float,
you said. Afterward
we’ll float between two worlds—

five bronze beetles
stacked like spoons in one
peony blossom, drugged by lust:
if I came back as a bird
I’d remember that—

until everyone we love
is safe is what you said.

The first stanza of this beautiful poem! To weep, to wake, to wait for the whisker on the face of the clock to move the dumb day forward. Five bronze beetles stacked like spoons is pretty pleasing too. Also, floating between two worlds is nice. I’ve been thinking about that a lot with the gorge and a line from the gorge management plan about how the west river parkway road/trail is the transition between two worlds: the longfellow neighborhood and the gorge. How can I write about this in a poem?

oct 11/RUN

2.8 miles
trestle turn around
39 degrees

Earlier this morning, flurries in the air and then some strange sleet snow combination. Nothing stuck. The ground is too warm. Still, winter is coming! Greeted the Daily Walker–does he like winter as much as I do? He might. He’s very hard core, wearing a short sleeve shirt with gloves. Listened loudly to my playlist. Wore some gloves that I removed after mile 1. Saw lots of squirrels. Orange and yellow leaves are everywhere, mostly still in the trees but more and more on the ground. The view above the ravine is much clearer today.

Thinking about map poetry today and how to use the map in my project to tell a story about my run. Read through a very interesting presentation on the topic: Map Poetry So many maps I could make! A map of gorge smells or the best places to see the river or trees that gossip and greet or every pothole and crack and fissure and dip and curve to watch out for when you have low vision…I’ll have to think about this for awhile.

Love the reading of this poem. Also love Ours Poetica.

oct 9/RUN

5 miles
Franklin Hill turn around
59 degrees

Windy but who cares when it’s this nice outside? Sunny. Not too warm. Saw my shadow. Felt like I was in a dream, floating above the path. Noticed lots of yellow, a few splashes of orange and red. Heard some people talking below the path by the railroad trestle. Tried to figure out when the Winchell Trail ended near Franklin but couldn’t. Still too many leaves blocking my view. Greeted the Daily Walker. Encountered a fat tire. A few squirrels almost darted out in front of me. Ran from the bottom of the hill to just under Franklin Bridge. Walked for a few minutes. Started running again as someone was passing me who was just slightly faster. Followed her for the rest of the run, slowly falling further behind. Hit 5 miles in the tunnel of trees and stopped running. Walked past the overlook and saw the leaves shimmering in the breeze. Such a beautiful sight. Studied the ravine and noticed how it is gradually become more visible. Standing on the edge, staring hard, I can almost see the railing of the fence below. The sun was cutting through the leaves, shining brightly. Still trying to figure out how to write my final haibun about this ravine. Don’t have the story quite yet.

Vow
BY DIANA KHOI NGUYEN

It will be windy for a while until it isn’t. The waves will shoal. A red-legged cormorant will trace her double along glassy water, forgetting they are hungry. The sea will play this motif over and over, but there will be no preparing for it otherwise. Water will quiver in driftwood. Sound preceding absence, a white dog trailing a smaller one: ghost and noon shadow, two motes disappearing into surf. And when the low tide comes lapping and clear, the curled fronds of seaweed will furl and splay, their algal sisters brushing strands against sands where littleneck clams feed underwater. Light rain will fall and one cannot help but lean into the uncertainty of the sea. Bow: a knot of two loops, two loose ends, our bodies on either side of this shore where we will dip our hands to feel what can’t be seen. Horseshoe crabs whose blue blood rich in copper will reach for cover, hinged between clouds and sea. It will never be enough, the bull kelp like a whip coiling in tender hands, hands who know to take or be taken, but take nothing with them: I will marry you.
I will marry you. So we can owe what we own to every beautiful thing.

Love this poem, especially how it sounds: strands/sands/clams Such beautiful details leading to an explanation of the title at the end.

oct 5/RUN

3.5 miles
top of franklin hill and back
52 degrees

Rainy in the morning so our 10K race was cancelled. Ran after the rain, in the afternoon. First mile, then last 1/2 mile with Scott. The rest by myself, partly with no headphones, partly listening to a playlist. Don’t remember much but seeing streaks of fall colors and lots of cars driving on the parkway. Why so many cars?

oct 2/RUN

1.6 miles
river road, north/south
50 degrees

A short run in the afternoon. Pretty sure I listened to a playlist, but I can’t remember now, writing this days later. Ran up from under the lake street bridge, around the rim above the rowing club, then turned around and headed back. It’s getting cooler outside. Looking more like fall too. Yellows and oranges and reds.

Rabbits and Fire
BY ALBERTO RÍOS

Everything’s been said
But one last thing about the desert,
And it’s awful: During brush fires in the Sonoran desert,
Brush fires that happen before the monsoon and in the great,
Deep, wide, and smothering heat of the hottest months,
The longest months,
The hypnotic, immeasurable lulls of August and July—
During these summer fires, jackrabbits—
Jackrabbits and everything else
That lives in the brush of the rolling hills,
But jackrabbits especially—
Jackrabbits can get caught in the flames,
No matter how fast and big and strong and sleek they are.
And when they’re caught,
Cornered in and against the thick
Trunks and thin spines of the cactus,
When they can’t back up any more,
When they can’t move, the flame—
It touches them,
And their fur catches fire.
Of course, they run away from the flame,
Finding movement even when there is none to be found,
Jumping big and high over the wave of fire, or backing
Even harder through the impenetrable
Tangle of hardened saguaro
And prickly pear and cholla and barrel,
But whichever way they find,
What happens is what happens: They catch fire
And then bring the fire with them when they run.
They don’t know they’re on fire at first,
Running so fast as to make the fire
Shoot like rocket engines and smoke behind them,
But then the rabbits tire
And the fire catches up,
Stuck onto them like the needles of the cactus,
Which at first must be what they think they feel on their skins.
They’ve felt this before, every rabbit.
But this time the feeling keeps on.
And of course, they ignite the brush and dried weeds
All over again, making more fire, all around them.
I’m sorry for the rabbits.
And I’m sorry for us
To know this.

Such a sad and beautiful poem. What a storyteller Ríos is!