jan 22/RUN

4.3 miles
minnehaha falls and back
36 degrees
25% snow and puddle covered

So much warmer today. Lots of puddles and some soft, loose snow, especially at the double bridge. Gray sky. Air heavy with moisture. The oak savanna looked especially open and white and meadow-like. At its edge the dark brown, almost blackish-gray water resembled a big, empty crater not a river. Heard some kids at recess, playing on the playground. One was yelling “help” or “stop it” or something and I couldn’t tell if he was being serious and if I should be concerned. Decided he was just playing.

Encountered a man running and walking on the path. As I ran by he gasped, “you make it look so easy!” I wanted to yell back something about how I had been just like him 8.5 years ago when I started running, but I couldn’t get the words out in time. As I ran ahead I thought about how happy I am to have stuck with running and how wonderful it is to run over 4 miles and have it feel easy. A few minutes later I think I said hello to Carrie Tollefson, the former Olympian, as I neared Locks and Dam #1.

When I reached the falls I didn’t stop to look, but from my quick glances I could see the frozen water. Were the falls making any noise? I don’t remember. Did I see anyone else at the falls? I don’t remember that either.


Ms. Marcus says that an occasional poem is a poem
written about something
or special
that’s gonna happen
or already did.
Think of a specific occasion, she says—and write about it.

Like what?! Lamont asks.
He’s all slouched down in his seat.
I don’t feel like writing about no occasion.
How about your birthday? Ms. Marcus says.
What about it? Just a birthday. Comes in June and it ain’t
June, Lamont says. As a matter of fact,
he says, it’s January and it’s snowing.
Then his voice gets real low and he says
And when it’s January and all cold like this
feels like June’s a long, long ways away.

The whole class looks at Ms. Marcus.
Some of the kids are nodding.
Outside the sky looks like it’s made out of metal
and the cold, cold air is rattling the windowpanes
and coming underneath them too.

I seen Lamont’s coat.
It’s gray and the sleeves are too short.
It’s down but it looks like a lot of the feathers fell out
a long time ago.
Ms. Marcus got a nice coat.
It’s down too but real puffy so
maybe when she’s inside it
she can’t even tell January from June.

Then write about January, Ms. Marcus says, that’s
an occasion.
But she looks a little bit sad when she says it
Like she’s sorry she ever brought the whole
occasional poem thing up.

I was gonna write about Mama’s funeral
but Lamont and Ms. Marcus going back and forth
zapped all the ideas from my head.

I guess them arguing
on a Tuesday in January’s an occasion
So I guess this is an occasional poem.

I love the use of zapped in the second to last stanza: “zapped all the ideas from my head.” I love how “she can’t even tell January from June” rolls off of the tongue. And I love the idea of an occasion poem being about an argument between a teacher and student on an ordinary January day.