jan 11/ RUN

4 miles
trestle turn around + extra
10 degrees/ feels like 0
40% ice-covered

Brr. Colder today than it has been for a while. I was fine with lots of layers. For most of the run, there were big strips of bare pavement. They were stained white from the salt or sand of whatever it was that they put down a few days ago and I kept thinking it was snow or ice instead of bare pavement. Greeted Dave the Daily Walker and a few other runners. Noticed the river and loved how arctic it looked. Bigger ice floes and thick water that seemed stuck.

The thing I remember most about the run was near the end, heading south, when the wind was not quite gently rushing through the trees and I heard a shimmering sound as the wind rustled the dead leaves. This felt strange and out of season, more like a noise I would hear in the summer or fall, and I imagined that it was much warmer outside. Almost tricked myself.


—The fear of long words

On the first day of classes, I secretly beg

my students Don’t be afraid of me. I know

my last name on your semester schedule

is chopped off or probably misspelled—

or both. I can’t help it. I know the panic

of too many consonants rubbed up

against each other, no room for vowels

to fan some air into the room of a box

marked Instructor. You want something

to startle you? Try tapping the ball

of roots of a potted tomato plant

into your cupped hand one spring, only

to find a small black toad who kicks

and blinks his cold eye at you,

the sun, a gnat. Be afraid of the x-rays

for your teeth or lung. Pray for no

dark spots. You may have


coal lung. Be afraid of money spiders tiptoeing

across your face while you sleep on a sweet, fat couch.

But don’t be afraid of me, my last name, what language

I speak or what accent dulls itself on my molars.

I will tell jokes, help you see the gleam

of the beak of a mohawked cockatiel. I will

lecture on luminescent sweeps of ocean, full of tiny

dinoflagellates oozing green light when disturbed.

I promise dark gatherings of toadfish and comical shrimp

just when you think you are alone, hoping to stay somehow afloat.

I love Aimee Nezhukumatathil. She is one of my favorite poets. And I love this poem and how it enabled me to learn a new word: hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. Very useful. But how cruel to make the term for a fear of big words such a monstrous, imposing word!