feb 29/RUN

5 miles
to stone arch bridge
27 degrees
90% clear path

Was able to do a one way run to the Stone Arch bridge today. Felt warm and relaxed and strong. Walked for about 30 seconds on the final big hill. Did a lot of counting to four. Greeted Dave the Daily Walker at the beginning. Encountered several runners, some walkers, and three bikers biking up the franklin hill as I was running down it. Saw my shadow in front of me. Heard some honking geese flying overhead; tried to spot them but couldn’t. Saw some big bird flying high up in the sky and then the shadow of a bird fly over me–was it the same bird? An eagle? A turkey vulture? The river was open–was it brown or blue? I can’t remember. Noticed the ice on the limestone cliffs in the flats. Heard the gushing of the water at the bottom, between Annie Young Meadows and the turnoff for the U. Just before I reached the Washington bridge, the light rail rumbled overhead. Anything else I remember? I was overdressed and very warm. One too many shirts. I’m sure I thought about something but I left it on the trail, probably on the last hill. Ended on the bridge–so breezy. Glad I wasn’t running into that wind the whole time!

What a beautiful poem! I found it through Ours Poetica and Ashley C. Ford’s reading of it.

Unwished For/ Shira Erlichman

I’m standing in my town’s ice cream shop when I notice them: the white couple smiling at me. Blonde woman standing beside a mailbox, waiting patiently for news, husband reassuringly placing a hand on her shoulder. The flyer they’re on is pink: international color of positivity in the face of infertility. They are having a hard time, my couple. That’s why they’re here in my ice cream shop. But they have faith, they’re trying, haven’t quit wanting what they want, in spite of it all.

             Could you be the one?

I lick the crest of my cone slowly, examine their bullet-pointed criteria.

             21 to 42 years

It’s not conscious, but somewhere inside a voice says: “Check.”

             No criminal record.                                       “Check.”

            No history of mental illness.

I say, out loud to the paper, not caring if the teenager behind me churning into an icy chunk with a steady fist hears, I say: “I know this is different, Susan, Jim, but I would never wish Frida to not have been hit by that trolley. I would never look her in the face and say, ‘I choose to unmake you and your paintings and your horroring heart. I rob the woods of your little deer.’”

“It’s different,” Susan says, “you’re not Frida.”

“Plus,” adds Jim, “that was physical. A freak accident. Try another argument.”

What they don’t want of me lives. It sees through my eyes that they would prefer it dead. It knows better than to whimper, or show defeat. What they don’t want of me breathes.

“Eugenicists,” it says

The woman gasps, hand to chest.

It continues: “You want to spare yourselves. That’s not love.”

“We don’t want her to suffer,” they chime in unison. Oh—her? It was decided: A girl. Claire. Or, Vanessa. Or, Claire. She’d have red curls, love olives, sing in her sleep.

“She doesn’t want to suffer either,” I peel the words open slowly, “but she’d rather be alive, than not suffer.”

I am not talking to a piece of paper in Herrell’s Ice Cream Shop. I am not invoking Frida. I am not naming an unloved ghost Claire. I’m licking my wrist of a smudge of strawberry cream, listening to the terrible Top 40 hit blaring overhead. I’m staring at the words No history of mental illness, trying to move my feet, and leave the world where this is taped up, natural as the moon.

Will the Normal Rockwell of our time paint me standing here before it? In my jean cutoffs, finishing what’s left of a soggy cone, drugs in my blood, unwished for by strangers.

Oh this poem and Ford’s reading of it! I love how she imagines and then makes real with her words this painful encounter between the wishers and the unwished for in such a mundane, every day setting. And I love how she conjures up Claire with red curls, who sings herself to sleep and loves olives. Wow.