april 12/RUN

4 miles
marshall loop
40 degrees

When I started my run, I wasn’t sure where I was headed, except north. At some point, I decided to cross the bridge and run the marshall loop. Not much sun, lots of gray and brown. The river was a dull blue with small waves from the wind. Don’t remember many birds, except for a few crows. I felt cold when I started, in tights, shorts, a long-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, and warm when I was done.

before the run

Thought about expressions and songs with the word dirt in them. Here’s an incomplete list:

  • dirt bag + Teenage Dirt Bag
  • dirt nap
  • dirt bath
  • dirt ball
  • as old as dirt
  • dish out the dirt
  • dig up some dirt
  • hit pay dirt
  • as poor as dirt
  • eat dirt
  • Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
  • Dirty Laundry
  • opp.: clean up my act
  • dust: Another One Bites the Dust
  • dirty and low down

dirt = dirty = bad = undesirable, unwanted = death = uncivilized = impure = contaminated So much to say about how being clean (and not dirty) is partly about establishing/protecting status and power over others and the earth, and about establishing boundaries and hierarchies. Also clean = pure = discrete = uncluttered, not messy = neat = separate

during the run

Thought about the hierarchies that the vilifying of dirt creates, then thought about the binaries too, when things are divided into pairs, with one member of the pair being better/having more power and status: clean/dirty, white/black, rich/poor, men/women, culture/nature, mind/body. Then I thought (again) about how much these unjust distributions of power are connected and decided entangled was a better word. Connected almost seems too neat, like they’re linked in some row or continuous chain. The webs of power overlap and aren’t neat or linear. This lead me to remember Ross Gay’s criticism of buoyancy and the idea that we are free, able to float above, untethered. We are entangled — down in the dirt with everything and everyone else.

Later running on the bridge, I stopped briefly to read one of the many yellow tags attached to the railings. It said, “this is not the end of your story” and had a hashtag. I didn’t stop long enough to read the # carefully, but it was something like #youarenotalone Was this about suicide prevention? Nearing the bridge from the St. Paul side, I saw a sign: Citywide Clean-up Campaign. The phrase, “clean up your mess” came into my head and it bothered me to think about a clean-up campaign beside the message about your story not ending — one wants you get rid of something, the other to not. I thought about the violence of cleaning as eliminating, erasing, removing, expunging, rendering non-existent or having never existed.

after the run

Here, in the second half of a poem by Aracelis Girmay, is another way of saying, “taking a dirt nap”:

from Kingdom Animalia/ Aracelis Girmay

one day, not today, not now, we will be gone
from this earth where we know the gladiolas.
My brother, this noise,
some love [you] I loved
with all my brain, & breath,
will be gone; I’ve been told, today, to consider this
as I ride the long tracks out & dream so good

I see a plant in the window of the house
my brother shares with his love, their shoes. & there
he is, asleep in bed
with this same woman whose long skin
covers all of her bones, in a city called Oakland,
& their dreams hang above them
a little like a chandelier, & their teeth
flash in the night, oh, body.

Oh, body, be held now by whom you love.
Whole years will be spent, underneath these impossible stars,
when dirt’s the only animal who will sleep with you
& touch you with
its mouth.

“when dirt’s the only animal who will sleep with you”

Girmay’s mentioning of bones and dreams and plants, reminds me of something else I looked up before my run but decided to save for later: the kids’ song Garden Song, or what I refer to as “the inch by inch song”– “inch by inch, row by row/gonna make this garden grow.” Here’s the verse I’m reminded of:

Pullin’ weeds and pickin’ stones
Man is made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own
‘Cause the time is close at hand

So much about dirt is the mixing of life and death, growth and decay. Dirt is where we come from, where we’re going.