march 23/RUN

4.4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
28 degrees
99% clear biking path

Only 28 degrees this morning, but it sure felt like spring! Sun, blue sky, less snow, warmer air! Heard some black capped chickadees and robins cheering me up. Felt the grit under my feet. Noticed my shadow. Saw more walkers walking below on the Winchell Trail. The river was sparkling and beautifully blue.

Before I went for my run, I read the first (and my final) page of the Schuyler poem and thought more about my “How to Sink” poem. I was particularly interested in thinking about the different ways water might sink or fall. About a minute into my run, I heard water dripping fast down the sewer — tinkling or shimmering or sounding like glitter falling. I held onto the memory of this sound throughout the run to the falls, adding more ideas of water falling as I encountered them. Then I stopped and spoke them into my phone. Here’s a brief list:

  1. water dripping down the sewer drain, a glitter of sound, or little dots of sound cascading down
  2. the slow, steady drip
  3. the seeping in or out of the limestone
  4. the falls –a rush or gush, almost like it’s being dumped, buckets of rain — surrender as a sudden collapsing and dumping, all at once, not gradually, like the abrupt shutting down of everything in early March of 2020

The buckets of rain made me think of a poem, but I couldn’t remember which one. In the recording I said, I bet it’s in Hymn to Life. Yep. Page 9. I recall thinking about writing about the “buckets of rain,” but I guess I didn’t.

The rain comes down in buckets:
I’ve never seen that, though you often speak of it. The rain
Comes down and brings depression, too much and too often.

James Schuyler, Hymn to Life, Page 1

Yes, I’m ending with the first page. It begins with The wind rests its cheek, and ends with Didn’t keep them.

The wind rests its cheek upon the ground and feels the cool damp
And lifts its head with twigs and small dead blades of grass
Pressed into it as you might at the beach rise up and brush away
The sand.

Love it! I need to add this to my collection of lines about the wind. Maybe I should create my own Beaufort Wind Scale. What speed would this be? 2 mph?

The day is cool and says, “I’m just staying overnight.”

I like the idea of the day saying something like this, although I’m not sure I totally understand what it means.

The world is filled with music, and in between the music, silence
And varying the silence all sorts of sounds, natural and man made:
There goes a plane, some cars, geese that honk and, not here, but
Not so far away, a scream so rending that to hear it is to be
Never again the same. “Why, this is hell.”

These first two lines are wonderful. I’d like to use them as epigraph for a poem. And that scream at the end….wow. Have I ever heard a scream like that?

Out of the death breeding
Soil, here, rise emblems of innocence, snowdrops that struggle
Easily into life and hang their white enamel heads toward the dirt

Death breeding soil. To struggle easily. Snowdrops hanging their heads to the dirt instead of up to the sun. Everything flipped

And in the yellow grass are small wild crocuses from hills goats
Have cropped to barrenness. The corms come by mail, are planted.

corms = “a rounded underground storage organ present in plants such as crocuses, gladioli, and cyclamens, consisting of a swollen stem base covered with scale leaves.”

Flowers courtesy of goats and mail-order.

Then do their thing: to live! To live! So natural and so hard
Hard as it seems it must be for green spears to pierce the all but
Frozen mold and insist that they too, like mouse-eared chickweed,
Will live. The spears lengthen, the bud appears and spreads, its
Seed capsule fattens and falls, the green turns yellowish and withers
Stretched upon the ground.

To live! To live!

Will begin another spring. No one gets many, one at a time, like a long
Awaited letter that one day comes. But it may not say what you hoped
Or distraction robs it of what it once would have meant.

How many people write letters anymore? I don’t because it’s very hard to write by hand with my vision, and I can hardly ever read anyone’s handwriting — not because it’s messy but because of my failing vision. If no one is writing letters anymore, does this metaphor work? How are poets using email in metaphors in compelling ways? Or text messages? Can we even imagine time/life in such slow ways as letter writing and receiving anymore?

Spring comes
And the winter weather, here, may hold. It is arbitrary, like the plan
Of Washington, D.C. Avenues and circles in asphalt web

Here in Minneapolis, the weather remains fairly reliable (reliably bad in spring, that is): a cold March, a big snow storm in April, a lingering chill in the first week of May, then suddenly 90 degrees and summer in mid-May.

and no
One gets younger: which is not, for the young, true, discovering new
Freedoms at twenty, a relief not to be a teen-ager anymore.

My son turns 20! next week. Since returning from his band trip to Spain and France, he is feeling these lines. February and March such big months of transformation for him.

One of us
Had piles, another water on the knee, a third a hernia—a strangulated
Hernia is one of life’s less pleasant bits of news—and only
One, at twenty, moved easily through all the galleries to pill
Free sleep. Oh, it’s not all that bad. The sun shines on my hand
And the myriad lines that criss-cross tell the story of nearly fifty

In 1951, Schuyler was introduced to Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery at a party in New York. The three poets would go on to share an apartment on 49th Street in Manhattan and to work closely together, often collaborating on a variety of writing projects.

Poetry Foundation

So, which one of them had the piles, which the water under the knee, and which the hernia?

Reading these lines, I was imagining an old man. But, he’s nearing 50! That’s my age. I suppose I do feel old often. I do not will not feel old for the next 30 years. Feeling old is for when I’m 80 — maybe I should chant this to myself every morning, like a spell?

So, that’s it. I read the whole poem. So much fun! Should I leave it at that, or continue exploring Schuyler for a few more days?