march 8/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin loop
35 degrees
snow flurries

Not completely sure if my body — my knees, left hip, lower back — were quite ready to run today, but the rest of me was, and I’m glad I did. The trail was almost completely clear with hardly any ice. And, there was only one short stretch of puddle-y slush so bad that I stopped to walk in the street to avoid it.

10 Things I Remember

  1. the Minneapolis park crew had spread some dirt/sand on the trail to help make it less slippery. It was especially helpful under the lake street bridge on the marshall side
  2. heard the drumming of a woodpecker somewhere in the gorge — it cut through the thick air. Also heard at least two geese, flying low and honking
  3. the flurries were at an angle and I pulled the bill of my cap way down, almost covering my eyes, so that the snow wouldn’t fly directly into my eyes
  4. the river, part 1: the river was gray and open as I crossed the franklin bridge
  5. smelled the sewer a few times — a result of the recent (slight) thaw. Yuck!
  6. the river road on the east side south of franklin was in terrible condition. So many potholes — dozens. I couldn’t tell if they were deep, just that there were a lot of them!
  7. river, part 2: crossing back over the lake street bridge, the river was almost completely open, only one small chunk of ice
  8. the river, part 3: near the small chunk of ice, I noticed that the river looked blueish green. A strange, delightful color. But what was causing it?
  9. don’t remember hearing all the grit under my feet, but I remember feeling it. I like sliding on it. Why? Maybe because it’s more interesting than flat, hard pavement?
  10. Favorite spot: near Meeker Island Dam, there’s a spot with an open view of the river and the other side. Only a few slender tree trunks in the way

Before heading out for my run, I had started revising my “How to Sink” poem. Thought I might get some inspiration by the gorge. Later, as I ran, I realized that I should wait to finish this poem when it’s spring, or at least warmer, when everything is dripping and oozing and flowing down to the river. I thought of this as the sharp flurried stabbed my face. Was thinking that I should do a “How to” poem related to water through the seasons.

Summer = How to Float

Spring = How to Sink

Winter = How to Settle? — something about snow that’s packed, layer, staying (not melting), compacting — How to be compact? or, How to Shrink?

Fall = I need to think about this one some more. What does water do in the fall? Maybe something related to decomposing — leaves falling, drying up, becoming brittle? water leaving — freezing — frost? fog? or, How to Rust?

Recited from memory my ED poem, “I measure every Grief I meet” before the run, then during it as I walked up the hill between the meeker dam and lake street. Recorded it into my phone. Only missed a few prepositions. Nice! My memorizing and reciting has improved over the years. This skill will come in handy when my ability to read gets worse. I’ll be able to memorize my poems for reciting to others.

I recited some of ED’s poem in my head as I ran. It follows a steady beat, so it’s easy to keep in rhythm, harder to recite without getting sucked into a sing song-y cadence.

This poem popped up on my twitter feed this morning:

Lake of the Isles/ Anni Liu

After my grandfather died 
I waited for him to arrive 
In Minneapolis. Daily 
I walked across the water 
Wearing my black armband 
Sewn from scraps, ears trained for his voice. 
Migration teaches death, deprives us 
Of the language of the body, 
Prepares us for other kinds of crossings, 
The endless innovations of grief. 
Forty-nine days, forty-nine nights— 
I carried his name and a stick 
Of incense to the island in the lake 
And with fellow mourners watched 
As it burned a hole in the ice. 
He did not give a sign, but I imagined him 
Traveling against the grain 
Of the earth, declining time. 
Spirit like wind, roughening 
Whatever of ourselves we leave bare. 
When he was alive, he and I 
Rarely spoke. But his was a great 
And courageous tenderness. 
Now we are beyond the barriers 
Of embodied speech, of nationhood. 
Someday, I will join him there in the country 
Of our collective future, knowing 
That loneliness is just an ongoing 
Relationship with time. 
It is such a strange thing, to be 
Continuous. In the weeks without snow, 
What do the small creatures drink?

About This Poem

My grandfather died during the first winter of the pandemic. His was the first death of someone I loved. That winter, people everywhere experienced the impossibility of being with dying loved ones. No one knew how to mourn in absentia. Having been separated from him and the rest of my family for twenty-two years due to my immigration status, I had had practice. I turned to poetry. Poems can enact impossible journeys. So, even though I wasn’t able to see him or be with my family, I could mourn. Here, in this room I made for us to be together.

A few weeks ago, my daughter walked on the ice at Lake of the Isles with her friend. They didn’t visit the island, but she talked about going back, and she wondered what happened there. I told her about this poem this morning as she made her coffee. Together we wondered if this actually happened, that during the pandemic people visited the island to mourn. Now I wonder, what does it mean to “actually” happen? If it was only conjured for this poem, does that mean it didn’t happen? [No.]

Love these lines:

That loneliness is just an ongoing 
Relationship with time. 

It is such a strange thing, to be 

In the weeks without snow, 
What do the small creatures drink?

Now I’m wondering, how would Emily Dickinson measure Liu’s grief?

sept 11/RUN

3 miles
marshall loop
53 degrees

Perfect running weather! Cooler, calmer, sunny. Ran through the neighborhood, over the lake street bridge, up marshall, across Cretin, then down the east river road. As I entered the river road, a never-ending line of bikes. 50? 100? They weren’t tightly packed, like in a peleton, just stretched out all the way down the hill.

As I ran, I thought about my latest poem. I’m still trying to find the right words to express why I sometimes like punching waves during open swim. At some point during the run, I came up with some lines — something about a wave crashing over my head, being emptied of air, my thoughts shattered then scattered. (emptied of air, the thoughts knocked out of me.) These lines about thoughts being shattered got me thinking about the pure physicality of swimming straight into the waves and how I’m always trying to find ways to stop thinking and theorizing and worrying. When I was done with my run, I recorded some thoughts:

running notes / 11 sept

When I got home, I thought more about the last bit of my recording, when I talked about swimming without thinking, knowing innately how best to stroke, and I wrote in by Plague Notebook: doing, not being. Pure verb or all verb or (just?) Verb. I want to bring in this idea of becoming verb somewhere in the poem.

I think my love of punching water has something to do with reconciling, or navigating, the split between mind and body, which is something I’ve thought about (and lived) throughout my life. How to be both a mind and a body, finding ways to rethink the relationship between them.

Here are 2 related passages from Alice Oswald in her Between the Covers interview that are inspiring me right now:

I sometimes wonder whether I’m a very keen swimmer, and whether for me, poetry is equivalent to swimming. I’ve often noticed when I swim, the strangeness of the way the body literally turns into a fish, but the head remains human and rather cold, and looking around at this strange flat reflective surface. I’m often very piercingly aware of the difference between my head and my body when I’m swimming because I’m not necessarily someone who goes underwater, I love swimming along the surface of rivers. Perhaps, my poems do feel a need to convey that continued separation of the head remaining human and the body becoming animal, or plant, or mineral, or whatever it can be. In some way, I suppose I’m trying to find rhythms that will heal that divide.

I think that’s exactly it, that we seem to exist as bodies and minds. That’s always slightly troubled me that I can’t quite make them be the same thing. I always have two narratives going on and it’s extraordinary the way the mind is floating around seemingly quite untethered and yet the body has all these laws like gravity, and limit, and size, and hunger, that it’s obeying. How those two interact and how they come to define what it is to be human is again—I’m wary of using the verb think because I don’t think poetry is necessarily about thinking—but it gets hold of questions, and reveals them as questions, and then reveals what’s underneath them, and then what’s underneath that. I suppose each book tries to peel away a layer of that problem and present it again.

Between the Covers interview with Alice Oswald

sept 8/RUN

2.5 miles
2 trails
80 degrees / wind gusts, 26 mph
11:00 am

Too windy for a swim at the lake, so I ran instead. Who has seen the wind?/ Neither I nor you:/ But when the leaves hang trembling/the leaves are pasing through. Hot! Heard a few black capped chickadees singing the feebee song and was reminded of the creepy theme from The Shining. Listening to the theme later, I don’t quite hear the connection. What I remember most from the run was feeling warm. I also remember thinking about the latest poem I’m working on and trying to work through where to go next. I stopped at the dirt trail near Folwell, after the short, steep hill and before the paved trail returns below, to record some thoughts. And I remember that when I stopped, I noticed a very small, square plaque at the bottom of the bench.

a small plaque at the bottom of a bench. The inscription reads: "WWDD - contemplation station for the fearless and free"
close-up of plaque on bench near Folwell
a bench facing trees and the river with a small plaque on it, near the ground
Rachel Dow Memorial Bench

I have run by this bench hundreds of times, stopped and sat once or twice, even wrote about it, but I’ve never noticed this small plaque on it. How did I see it today? I love these little surprises, just waiting to be found! I had no idea what this plaque meant — WWDD? I looked it up and found a facebook page for the Rachel Dow Memorial. Wow. She was loved by so many. I read a little about her life — a passionate, social justice minded, free-spirit — and her death — she fell through the ice at the river and died of hypothermia. Maybe I’ll write a poem about her and the others I’ve found through their plaques. All of them share with me a deep love for this river. And maybe one day, I’ll have a plaque there too.

Here’s a draft of the poem I’m working on right now. The inspiration for it: a few entries in which I describe how I love choppy water and punching the waves; the idea that lake swimming differs from sea, river, and pool swimming; and the line about two story rollers in the poem, Wave After Wave.

Untitled Poem About Punching Waves/ Sara Puotinen

Listen pal, this isn’t
the sea. Hell, this isn’t
even a proper
lake. Just a dredged out
cranberry marsh with
an average depth of
fifteen feet. And those
aren’t waves. No big rollers.
No white horses
thundering to shore.
Nothing pulling you
under, dragging you
down. Still, people drown
here and when water
meets a strong wind, which
happens more often
these days, it’s ready
for a fight. Me too.
Neither of us hard
with anger but
restless overfilled
with energy and
the need to spend it
somewhere. I square my
shoulders and head straight
into a small swell

That’s what I have right now.

sept 5/RUN

4.4 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
60 degrees
9:00 am

Fall is coming. The air, a little cooler. The trees, a little more yellow. I’m still sad about swimming ending, but I’m happy to have more time to run. Ran north on the river road trail all the way to the bottom of the franklin hill and then turned around. Ran up it all the way to the top, then stopped for a few minutes to walk and put it in my headphones (listened to Beyoncé’s Renaissance).

Heading north, I heard the rowers and the mid-range voice of a coxswain — not a low voice, and not a high one either. Not sure if I’ve heard this coxswain before. Also heard the clicking of a roller skier’s poles and the awkward shifting of a bike’s gears.

Passed a runner in black with a white sweatshirt tied around their waist. Something about the sweatshirt transfixed me. It seemed to take forever to pass them as I stared blankly at the white of their sweatshirt.

The river down in the flats was moving in the breeze. The sun was frequently behind the clouds.

Encountered a few lunging dogs, a darting squirrel.

Overheard 2 bikers talking. Tried to listen, but all I could make out was, that must have been 300 minutes! Huh?

Here’s the latest version of my poem about the light and the waves in the lake. I’m happy with it, but as I listened to a recording of myself reciting it I thought, so many of my poems are serious and somber! It made me think that I should try writing about this experience from a more playful perspective. Can I, or am I too serious of a person? Here’s the draft:

Love (tentative title)/ Sara Puotinen

Hands slice through water
ripples catch light
sun surface swimmers
converge into chorus.
Listen, their notes of
shimmer & shine sing
to you. Each point of
contact between lake
and finger and light
an over here, this
way, you’re not alone
As your body breaks
surface stroke after
stroke, it sings along.

Walking back, after the run, I started thinking about the little girl, with the same name (and spirit) as my daughter, that I encountered at the end of an open swim one day. The image that lingers: her mischevious look after calling out a made-up Help! I’d like to write about her and a few of the other women I encountered in the water this summer. I wish I could remember more of these women. Maybe I’ll try?

sept 3/RUN

2.8 miles
2 trails
65 degrees
8:30 am

Writing this about 8 hours after my run. I wonder what I remember? 2 trips to the state fair + 2 trips to Rochester (70 minute drive) made it difficult to run a lot this week.

10 Things I Remember

  1. the coxswains, both male and female, calling out to their rowers
  2. a pack of runners taking over the paved path
  3. a dog somewhere down below, near where I was entering the Winchell Trail — I didn’t see them, but heard the pounding of their paws, the jingling of their collar
  4. 2 male voice below me — were they on the water in a boat or by the shore? I never found out
  5. the trickle of the sewer pipe at 44th
  6. the blue river — did it sparkle? I can’t remember
  7. hearing the rower below me and trying to find a spot in between trees to see their boats
  8. a leaning tree before 38th
  9. the dirt trail below the mesa is overgrown…at one point, the sunflowers have reclaimed the path
  10. 2 people standing by the information sign in the oak savanna, both wearing shorts, looking like they were planning to hike or run

Still playing around with a poem about the sparkle a swimmer’s body makes on the water. Here’s a draft that I haven’t broken into lines yet. I feel like I’m getting closer, but I’m not quite there:

Hands slice through water, ripples catch light, sun surface swimmers converge into chorus. See how their notes of shimmer & shine greet and guide you. Every point of contact between shoulder and lake and light, an over here, this way, you are not alone. Can you feel how your body sings this same song to others?

august 22/RUN

5 miles
franklin hill turn around
67 degrees
9:00 am

What a beautiful morning! No bugs, not much wind, shade. Ran to a little past the bottom of the franklin hill, turned around, then ran until I reached the franklin bridge. Stopped to walk for a few minutes. Recorded some thoughts. Put on a playlist.

Noticed the tree that looks like a tuning fork, but forgot to count the stones stacked on the cairn. Also noticed the spot at the bottom of the tunnel of bridges where there’s green air. Heard some rowers and at least one roller skier.

As I ran north on the river road trail, 3 different bikers passed me, a few minutes apart. They all looked the same: white woman in black shorts and black tank top. Were they, and if not, did they look the same to people with better vision? I looked at their shoes, all different. Woman 1: black biking shoes, white socks. Woman 2: running shoes. Woman 3: sandals. For me, looking at feet can be helpful. Why?

Chanted a few triple berries — strawberry/blueberry/blackberry — but then became distracted.

Listened to the birds, including the black-capped chickadee’s feebee song.

At the bottom of the hill, the river was flat and brown and still.

Noticed a bench facing a wall of green, no view of the river. A man was standing behind the bench, looking at the wall? Or maybe finding a way through to the river?

Speaking of a way through, I caught a glimpse of shimmering white light through the trees. The river on fire from the sun!

Lately I’ve been thinking that I feel more like a boat than a fish in the water. Today’s thought: although we often think that a fish is a living thing and a boat is not, is that true? I thought about how boats decay — wood decomposes, metal rusts. What lives on a boat that makes it die? Where am I going with this? Not sure. I am interested in the idea of rust and rot and decay and its relationship to change, transformation, and breathing/air. Also the idea of things like boats, that we might imagine only as objects that are dead, as living things that breathe.

Water and Stone/ Frances Boyle

“When viewed in deep time, things come alive that seemed inert. … Ice breathes. Rock has tides. Mountains ebb and flow. Stone pulses. We live on a restless Earth.”
—Robert Macfarlane in Underlands

Inside your house, the radiator ticks, floors
shift and mutter. The skeleton of struts
and beams is clad with plaster and paint.

You’ve adorned the walls with more paint
—on canvas, on paper. A visiting friend
admires the art, the book-crammed shelves.

Talk turns to what she’s read, what
you haven’t. Excuses for uncracked spines.

Your dog’s steps are halting now, nail-
clack on hardwood more syncopated
than staccato. You hear him sigh.

In the driveway, a crunch as tires compress
the snow. A squirrel traverses wire and bare
branches. The tremble at leafless ends.

You feel the slow flow of tidal rock
how the current supports you, carries you.

august 17/RUNSWIM

run: 5 miles
franklin loop
70 degrees
9:00 am

Such a nice morning for a run! Sunny, with lots of shade. No stiff wind, only a welcoming breeze. Heard the rowers on the river. Yesterday, as Scott and I were driving on the river road, we encountered a truck with a trailer filled with 4 (or more?) big, 8-person rowing boats — they’re called octuple sculls. So long. Wow!

Can I remember 10 things from my run? I’ll try…

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a revving chainsaw in the gorge, near the floodplain forest
  2. a coxswain’s distorted voice, counting off drills
  3. someone cutting across the trail, then disappearing through a hole in the treeline
  4. cracked open acorns underfoot
  5. 4 or 5 stones stacked on the cairn
  6. a slash of orange spray paint marking a tree’s trunk — will it be cut down soon?
  7. crossing the franklin bridge, a sign: roadwork ahead (RJP’s perpetual joke: Road work ahead? I sure hope so!). Then, a few trucks parked on the side of the road
  8. the ravine smelling like a porta potty or a poorly venitilated outhouse
  9. my toe — the one next to the big toe on my left foot. Ouch! After my swim on Monday, I thought I had completely washed the sand from between my toes before I went out for a run. Nope. A few miles in, I got a blister. That blister popped and become a raw sore that ached today, even through the bandaid
  10. no geese, no music, no roller skiers

Last night, Scott and I started watching the second season of Only Murders in the Building. So good! In the second episode, a character played by Shirley MacLaine describes her vision:

I have a bill of sale here somewhere that I… when I first bought it from the artist, and…

Oh God. Here! You find it! ( grunts )

I’ve got macular degeneration. I…

Nothing but a big bubble in my middle vision, and…

But I have very accurate peripheral vision, so you just…

Scott and I agreed that we had never heard vision/macular degeneration described in that way before on television. Very cool, and accurate. Such a great thing to include as a way to educate people on different ways of seeing.

I found a wonderful craft essay this morning by Amorak Huey: The Prose Poem & the Startling Image. I hope to write more about it soon. For now, here’s a prose poem he includes in his discussion of finding images that startle:

poem about water/ sam sax

i get it. your body is blah blah blah percent water. oceans levitate, clouds urinate on the ground that grows our food. this is considered a miracle – this is a problem of language. i could go on for days with facts about the ocean and it will always sound like i’m talking about love. i could say: no man has ever seen its deepest trenches, we know less about its floor than the stars, if you could go deep enough all your softest organs will be forced out of your mouth. you can be swallowed alive and no one will hear a sound. last summer three boys drowned in the sound and no one remembers their names, they came up white and soft as plastic grocery bags. i guess you could call that love. you’d be wrong.

Now I’ve started reading more of sam sax’s work. Water is a big theme in their collection, Bury it. And, how about this wonderful image in their poem, Prayer for the Mutilated World?

after phone lines do nothing
but cut the sky into sheet music
& our phones are just expensive
bricks of metal & glass

Or how water works in this poem:

swim: 1 small loop = .5 loop
cedar lake open swim
76 degrees
6:00 pm

Went to open swim with FWA. Just as we arrived, it started to rain. Then it rained harder. We almost turned back, but we didn’t. By the time we made it to the water, the rain had stopped and the sun was peeking through the clouds. The water wasn’t as clear as it has been, but still much clearer than Lake Nokomis. When we reached the far beach, we stopped for a few minutes. FWA picked up some rocks (with his feet, underwater), and started knocking them together. They made a sharp satisfying clicking noise that we could hear above water. I wonder if other swimmer could hear it below, and from how far away? Did it bother the fish?

august 16/BIKESWIM

bike: 9 miles
halfway to fort snelling
77 degrees
11:00 am

FWA and I decided to take a bike ride this morning. I got to choose where we went. I chose the paved trail to Fort Snelling, which I haven’t biked in 10 years. I chose wrong. It was bumpy 10 years ago, and they haven’t repaired it since then. We made it a few miles, then decided to turn around. Bummer. Glad we turned around because the trail was terrible, but disappointed that that meant the end of the bike ride. Will FWA be willing to take any more bike rides with me before he leaves for college in 3 weeks? Stay tuned.

Found this poem on twitter today. Makes me think about the end of open swim next week, and the end of swimming until next May or June.

Living Here/ Cleopatra Mathis

In the absence of ocean, I have the field,
and I walk there with the dogs
on a chain. One who won’t shut up,
the other large and grave
with his patient look–we all survey
gray sky, gray woods, absence
turning the season. The field
is married to silence, a cloud
lying across it, and when it lifts
no horizon takes my eye. No glory of night
falling at sea, light’s limitless plane.
In the field, containment
is everything, locked as it is by evergreen shade.
The scrimshaw of ice
is water’s only possibility, handiwork
the cold creek make in its secret
turning. Why not accept the bounds,
love the confined self?
In the world of appearances, teach me
to believe in the unseen.
The ground darkens to a threat.
I watch where I put my foot–no sound
in this universe but that reassuring thud.

swim: 4 loops
lake nokomis open swim
75 degrees
5:30 pm

Another wonderful swim! I felt strong and fast. Thought about myself more as a boat then a fish. Not fins but oars, shoulders as a broad bow cutting through the water, only partly submerged and partly above the water. Always moving with intent, trying to get to the other side. There’s something about how serious I am with my swimming, always working hard, rarely stopping. I like to push myself, not to get faster or be more fit, but because I like to work hard? Still trying to figure that one out. Imagining myself as a boat reminds me of a poem I posted a few years ago:

SWIMMER (FEMALE)/ Concha Méndez

My arms:
the oars.

The keel: 
my body.

my thought.

I found this poem on the site, Swimming at Dawn. In the entry in which this was posted, Dawn Swimmer describes how they try to return to the “elementals” to center themselves and to clear their mind.

Blue. Green. Tree. Breath. Arm. Hand. Bubbles. Sun. Moon. 

Sometimes when I’m open water swimming, with my mind full of thoughts and I want to clear it, I turn to elementals like primary colors. Single words for single moments. I turn my head to breathe, life giving agent, and there is the Sky. Cloud. Pink. Sun. Sensation. Joy. Cold. Water. 

Simplicity emerges. Each breath, a word. And, yes, Water. Water. Water. Always water, everywhere. Me inside the water. The water inside of me. 

Slicing through the waves, the currents, the liquid aqua. I’m flowing and moving somewhere and nowhere. Rock, Buoy, Colored house. Or perhaps, there’s a long section with nothing to distract me. The mind wanders. I turn my head to breathe. Mountain. Pine. Boat. Moored. 

Swimming My Verses: Poetry & Open Water Swimmming

I really like this idea. I’d like to experiment with some swimming poems made up of these elements. What were the elements of my swim?

Clouds. Sky. Plane. Vine. Wave. Buoy. Kayak. Swan. Strokes. Five. Breath. Roof. Treetops. Elbow. Cap. Blue. Green. White. Yellow. Orange. Pink. Shoulders. Hand. Hips. Foot. Slosh. Duck. Kick. Splash.

As we were waiting at the beach for open swim to start, a woman came up to me and asked, Do you ever think the buoys are staring at you? The handles look like eyes. When I’m rounding the buoy, I always see it watching me. I admitted that I’d never thought about that, but once she mentioned it, I could see it — the handles as eyes, the edge of the triangular buoy a long nose.

Tonight, the green buoy closest to shore seemed to grow farther away as I swam toward (towards?) it. Mid-lake, this green buoy also looked like a tiny glowing dot, more white than green.

A crowded lake with lots of open water swimmers and boats. During the third loop, I noticed a line of giant swans off to my left. Tonight, they didn’t seem menancing, just strange. Out of scale — were they too big, or was the lake too small?

Gave some attention to my stroke, noticing (again) how breathing to my left was a little harder. I don’t get my head out of the water as much on that side. Is it my rotation? I tried stretching out my right arm and rolling over on my right side more. I think it helped.

Here’s another bit of a poem that I’d like to play around with:

from “swims“/ Elizabeth Jane Burnett

The river is something that happens,
like exercise or illness, to the body
on any given day
I am rivering.

Not that the river is like the body
or the river is the body
but both have gone
and what is left is something else.

I wonder, is there such a thing as lake-ing? How does it differ from rivering? Also: what is the something else that is left? I like the idea of the water being a verb and not a noun.

july 25/RUN

5.5 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
64 degrees
8:30 am

Hooray for a cooler morning and a wonderful run! It (almost) gets me excited for fall and winter running. I’m not ready for that yet, though. Still loving the swimming. Ran north on the river road, down the franklin hill, then stopped to walk up it. I dictated notes into my phone about my final lecture. Then, I turned on a playlist and ran faster on the way back.

moment of the day

I encountered a group of camp kids, in their bright yellow vests, biking up the franklin hill. Near the top, I heard one kid lament, This isn’t fun anymore. Or, did he say funny? I can’t remember. Then about halfway down, a counselor was yelling out encouragement to 2 kids struggling to keep biking. Let’s go! You got this Lily! Let’s go Mya! It made me smile. I hope they both made it up the hill okay.

Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker and Mr. Morning! Heard the rowers, faintly, below me. Lots of birds. Was there sun? I can’t remember now — I’m writing this the next morning. Oh — I remember the river down in the flats. So calm, so still, almost a mirror. And yes, there was sun. It was hot as I ran near the Annie Young Meadows parking lot. No stacked stones on the ancient boulder. No roller skiers. No big groups of runners. Someone on one of those e-bikes with the tiny wheels. Several people running with dogs. A woman sitting on a bench.

Discovered this poem this morning:

Moist/ Anna Myles

Why should it be so hated, the word for soil
as the farmer longs for it, for the fresh loaf,
for the inside of the lips, the indoor pool’s
sweet chlorine air when winter burns your throat?
For the brush against your thigh of a dog’s nose,
for skin vital in its perspiration,
the velvet eyelid petal of the rose,
those other lips below, and the agile tongue?
Maybe only one who has been dry
and cold for years under Saturn’s tutelage
would need to praise the word that all decry—
a word for tears, for the heart, for new ink smudged.
A word for the peach after the knife goes in:
pried deeply, split, its inner gold now shown.


bike: 8.4 miles
lake nokomis and back

swim: 400 yards
lake nokomis

My first outside bike ride of the year and my first swim! As my vision declines, I never know how hard it will be to bike. Will I be able to see? Will it be too scary? Today was okay. It’s very hard for me to see potholes or react quickly to unexpected things (crowded trails, passing another biker), but as long as I don’t go too fast and I give careful attention (all the time) as I ride, I should be okay. It’s a bit exhausting, but who cares? I can still bike!

Things I Heard While Biking

  1. drumming woodpeckers, twice
  2. the music from the ice cream truck
  3. a biker calling out calmly and quietly as she passed, “on your left”

Biked to the lake with my 19 year-old son, FWA. He’s planning to swim across the lake with me, at least once, although I’m hoping he’ll try it more than once. I’ve been dreaming about one of my kids being old enough to join me in open swim — you have to be 18. They were both on the swim team and are great swimmers. He wasn’t up for the 69 degree water, but I was. It didn’t seem cold to me. I love the cold water on my muscles. Very nice! It didn’t feel as good inside my right ear. Since FWA was with me, and I haven’t swam since last september, I decided to take it easy and only do one loop around the buoys at the big beach.

10 Things I Noticed While Swimming

  1. the season has barely begun and the part of the white buoys under the water was thick with muck…yuck
  2. no clear views below of biggish fish or hairbands or the bottom
  3. near the shore, dozens of minnows parted as I moved through the water
  4. the water was opaque, with shafts of light pushing their way through
  5. I could see the white buoys, mostly the feeling that they were there
  6. the view as I lifted my head to the side and out of the water to breathe was much clearer than my view as I looked straight ahead
  7. I heard some kids laughing as I neared the far end of the beach
  8. when I started, there were a few groups of people swimming, when I stopped, I was one of the few people still in the water
  9. I breathed every five strokes
  10. there was a seagull perched on the white buoy as I neared it. At the last minute, it flew off — was it looking for a big fish?

Here’s Poetry Foundation’s poem of the day. I love how H.D. imagines the trees as water — and how they describe it! Running in the tunnel of trees, past a part that seems surrounded by green, I’ve felt like I was swimming in a sea of trees.

Oread/ H. D.

Whirl up, sea—
whirl your pointed pines,
splash your great pines
on our rocks,
hurl your green over us,
cover us with your pools of fir.

note: Oread = “a nymph believed to inhabit mountains.”