june 30/SWIM

4 loops
lake nokomis open swim
65 degrees

Wow wow wow! What a wonderful swim for my birthday weekend. The air was cooler, but the water was fine and the sun was warm. Not much wind, so few waves, but the sun reflecting off the water sparked light everywhere. Felt strong and sore, then not sore, then sore again: mostly my neck from sighting and breathing. I didn’t wear my safety buoy and it felt strange, like I was missing something.

1

The water was clearer, lighter. Less greenish-blue and empty, more greenish-yellow and full of living things — particles, vines, sediment — and light. Shafts of light everywhere underwater — not straight down, but at angles and coming up from the bottom not down from the sky. An illusion, but fun to imagine the light source as down below. The opposite of Lorine Niedecker’s “ocean’s black depths” (Paean to Place) and Alice Oswald’s “violet dark” (Nobody). I noticed the shafts of light the most in the stretch of water between the last green buoy and the first orange one.

2

After I finished my 4th loop, swimming just inside the pink buoys, I looked underwater — clear enough to see the sandy, rocky bottom, but not clear enough to see any hairbands. Writing this reminded me of what I witnessed before the swim: minnows! As I waded in the shallow water, dozens of little fish scattered as I approached. None of them nibbled at my toes, or if they did, I didn’t feel it.

3

During the first loop somewhere between the first and second orange buoys an alarming thought appeared: what if I fainted in the middle of the lake? In the past this thought might have caused panic which I would feel in my body — a flushed face, harder to breathe, hot tingling on the top of my head. Not today. No physical effect. Within a few minutes the thought was gone. Is this because of the lexapro? FWA says that sometimes he feels the lexapro working — he’ll start having overwhelming thoughts but instead of spiraling, he feels himself become separated from those thoughts — they become abstract and distant. I wondered about this as I stroked then connected it to Alice Oswald’s Homeric mind and the idea of thoughts not just living in our head but traveling outside of our bodies from there to there.

3

I only saw the orange buoys when I was right next to them. I was almost always swimming straight at them, so some part of me knew they were there, just not my eyes. No panic or fear or negative thoughts as I looked at the nothingness of water and sky and a vague, generic tree line.

june 25/RUNSWIM

3.1 miles
2 trails
73 degrees / dew point: 66

Another hot and humid morning. Another difficult run. Is it strange that I don’t mind that it’s hard? Some shade, lots of sun.

10 Things

  1. squish! stepping down in thick, gooey mud on the winchell trail
  2. thwack thwack thwack a runner approaching from behind
  3. pardon me that same runner letting me know he was passing
  4. running down to the south entrance of the winchell trail, looking at the river through the trees — not sparkling in the sun, but flat and brown — somehow this made it look even hotter and less refreshing
  5. rowers down below, heard not seen
  6. the sewer at 42nd, a steady stream of water falling
  7. the sewer at 44th, more of a dribble
  8. honking geese
  9. 4 stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  10. a squirrel ahead of me on the winchell trail — running then stopping then running, finally jumping through the fence and off the trail — was it waiting to dart out right in front of me? no

Alice Oswald and Lorine Niedecker and water’s depths

from Paean to Place/Lorine Niedecker

How much less am I
in the dark than they?

Effort lay in us
before religons
at pond bottom
all things move toward
the light

Except those
that freely work down
to ocean’s black depths
in us an impulse tests
the unknown

from Nobody/ Alice Oswald

The sea she said and who could ever drain it dry
has so much purple in its caves the wind at dusk
incriminates the waves
and certain fish conceal it in their shells
at ear-pressure depth
where the shimmer of headache dwells
and the brain goes

dark

purple

from “Interview with Water”/ Alice Oswald

To be purpled is to lose one’s way or name, to be nothing, to grieve without surfacing, to suffer the effects of sea light, to be either sleepless or weightless and cut off by dreams.

swim: 4 loops
lake nokomis open swim
82 degrees

4 loops! A beautiful summer night! The water was a bit choppy but it didn’t bother me. Saw some silver flashes below — fish? Also, beautiful shafts of light illuminating the particles swimming with me and a few ghostly vines reaching up from the bottom. In certain stretches it felt like the water wanted to pull me down to the lake floor — difficult to kick and keep high near the surface.

New breathing/sighting pattern I noticed last night at cedar: 1 2 3 breathe right 1 2 look up to sight (no breath) 3 4 5 breathe left

above the surface: A few times I paused in the middle of the lake to give attention to the surface. Once I saw a dragonfly. Another time, a plane. The water was blue but not as intense as on Sunday.

below the surface: bubbles, my hands, could feel the movement before I saw any swimmers, then bubbles and pale legs kicking. The water was green but with less blue and more yellow.

june 17/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls and back
65 degrees / dew point: 61

Today’s word: saturated. What Lorine Niedecker aimed for in her water poetry. Not floating or dry but sinking and soaked.

Rain off and on all day. Maybe thunderstorms starting in the afternoon.

No rain as I ran, but everything was wet or dripping. Moist. My face, more moist than a sponge. The falls, gushing over the limestone then rushing down the gorge to the Mississippi.

Evidence of the rain and thunderstorms last night all along the trail. Above the oak savanna it looked like some creature had tore through the green, ripping small limbs and leaves off the trees and throwing them to the ground.

The parking lot at the falls was packed with cars. Not the best day to be at the falls — but maybe it was? A chance to witness the falls in full cry, I guess. Also a chance to get wet or slip in the mud. I thought I might, but didn’t.

Anything else? A black squirrel sighting, which reminded me of the line from “What Would Root”: scolded by squirrels in their priestly black

Discovered the poet, Maureen N. McLane this morning and was delighted by her serial poem about Mz. N. Requested the book from the library. Possibly an inspiration for some writing about Sara, age 8?

an excerpt from Mz N: the serial/ Maureen N. McLace

The child Mz N sat on her bed
and wondered: that tree
outside her window
shifted
when her eye
shifted. What to make
of that?

                                          §

Mz N and her siblings
had a dog for some time.
They went on vacation &
when they came back
no dog.
They asked the parents:
the dog?
who replied:
what dog?
And some people wonder
why others distrust the obvious.

Speaking of the serial poem — LN’s “Paean to Place” is considered one — here’s a helpful definition:

The serial form in contemporary poetry, however, represents a radical alternative to the epic model. The series describes the complicated and often desultory manner in which one thing follows another. Its modular form–in which individual elements are both discontinuous and capable of recombination–distinguishes it from the thematic development or narrative progression that characterize other types of the long poem. The series resists a systematic or determinate ordering of its materials, preferring constant change and even accident, a protean shape and an aleatory method. The epic is capable of creating a world through the gravitational attraction that melds diverse materials into a unified whole. But the series describes an expanding and heterodox universe whose centrifugal force encourages dispersal. The epic goal has always been encompassment, summation; but the series is an ongoing process of accumulation. In contrast to the epic demand for completion, the series remains essentially and deliberately incomplete.

Seriality and the Contemporary Long Poem/ Joseph Conte

I had to look up a few words from this excerpt that I wasn’t quite sure of:

desultory: marked by lack of definite plan/purpose, not connected to main subject
protean: displaying great diversity or variety, versitle
aleatory: relating to luck, depending on an uncertain event or contingency

This idea of a serial poem as “an ongoing process of accumulation” is very cool and fits with my approach to Haunts and a story in long form.

june 15/RUN

5 miles
bottom franklin hill and back
72 degrees / dew point: 60

Whew! I was sure the dew point would be even higher. It felt very uncomfortable out there. And difficult. But I kept moving and didn’t push myself too hard. I ran to the bottom of the hill then walked up it. Then ran, walked, ran until I was back to the ancient boulder — no stones stacked on it today.

Last night RJP graduated from high school. I’m very proud of her for surviving it. I’m proud of myself too. It was very hard and I am tired. No more k-12 public school! Hooray! I loved many of the teachers and the music programs, but I won’t miss being subject to this schooling process.

RJP’s graduation was delayed by almost an hour because a fight broke out at the previous school’s graduation and someone was hauled away in an ambulance. FWA said he saw the guy, and he looked like he was probably fine and not in much pain. Other than the delay, the graduation was great. The awesome poet Bao Phi gave the address — so good! He, along with the student speakers, centered the experiences of BIPOC students.

10 Things

  1. white sky
  2. dark green mystery
  3. at least 2 specks in the sky — a plane? a bird?
  4. click clack — roller skiers powering up the franklin hill
  5. foamy water
  6. glowing orange shoes on a runner
  7. voices below near white sands beach
  8. one runner to another: well, that killed about an hour and a half — huh?
  9. a greeting from Mr. Holiday!
  10. a few days ago I mentioned something in orange spray painted on the sidewalk — it’s the outline of a cat (but not Garfield, I think?)

a section from Wintergreen Ridge/ Lorine Niedecker

Reading (again, for the 3rd or 4th time?) LN’s “Wintergreen Ridge,” I was delighted by her connections and associations:

Women saved
a pretty thing: Truth:

“a good to the heart”
It all comes down
to the family

“We have a lovely
finite parentage
mineral

vegetable
animal”
Nearby dark wood—

I suddenly heard
the cry
my mother’s

where the light
pissed past
pistillate cone

how she loved
closed gentians
she herself

so closed
and in this to us peace
the stabbing

pen
friend did it
close to the heart

pierced the woods
red
(autumn?)

Sometimes it’s a pleasure
to grieve

june 13/RUNSWIM

5 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
70 degrees / dew point: 60

Overcast, which helped it feel a little less warm. Sticky, thick air. A lot of sweat, especially on my face. Dripping ponytail. So green even the air was green. Greeted the Welcoming Oaks — hello friends! Descended into the tunnel of trees and was enveloped in green. Chanted triple trees: sycamore/sycamore/sycamore/red oak leaf/silver birch. Heard the rowers through the trees. Admired the barely moving, calm water under the bridge — the surface was dotted with foam and reflected clouds. Saw a speck in the sky out of the corner of my eye. Tried to look at it, gone. Tried again, a plane almost covered in fog. Saw a dark ring around it — my ring scotoma? Appreciated how the outline of the treetops on either side of the river road echoed the shape of the river banks. Walked up the hill — it took me 7 minutes — then ran, walked, ran back. Ended with a dozen roller skiers above me while I climbed out of the tunnel of trees.

For the first mile, in the dark green quiet, everything was dreamy. Thought again about how running puts me in a strange, surreal state. Nothing quite real. Then thought about Lorine Niedecker and the physical act of seeing with messed up eyes and using the poetic form to represent that. I’m not aware of how my eyes move as I see except for when I look to the peripheral as a way for my central vision to see something. I imagine having nystagmus makes you more easily register the movement of your eyes. How conscious was LN of her eye movement and how it was mimicked in her lines? When I think about how I see — the mechanics of it and its physicality — I think more about what happens when the corrupt or limited data travels as electrical impulses through the optic nerve and to the brain. Are the effects of nystagmus primarily physical — strain on eyes, the rapid movement creating dizziness and headaches? I should read more about it. . . . The physical impact of my vision sometimes reads as dizziness and light-headedness, but mostly it’s just a vague sense of unease and fatigue — more naps. I rarely feel the eye strain or get headaches from my effort.

In the article I was reading about LN’s nystagmatic poetics, this poem was discussed:

Tattoo/ Wallace Stevens

The light is like a spider.

It crawls over the water.

It crawls over the edges of the snow.

It crawls under your eyelids

And spreads its webs there—

Its two webs.

The webs of your eyes

Are fastened

To the flesh and bones of you

As to rafters or grass.

There are filaments of your eyes

On the surface of the water

And in the edges of the snow.

note at 11 am: Today is my first day of open swim! After the swim, I’ll return to this entry.

I’m spending the afternoon on the deck, reading Niedecker and thinking about Alice Oswald and Niedecker and my Haunts poems. Here are some jumbled thoughts:

You have been in my mind/between my toes/agate — Lake Superior/LN

You’ve been in
my mind

beneath my
feet Mom

Look for me under your boot-soles — Walt Whitman

Ars Poetica/ Arcelis Girmay

May the poems be
the little snail’s trail.

Everywhere I go,
every inch: quiet record

of the foot’s silver prayer.
             I lived once.
             Thank you. 
             I was here.

“We a lovely/finite parentage/mineral/vegetable/animal” — Wintergreen/ LN

I’m interested in how many layers you can excavate in personality. At the top it’s all quite named. But you go down through the animal and the vegetable and then you get to the mineral. At that level of concentration you can respond to the non-human by half turning into it.

Alice Oswald interview for Falling Awake

To write a poem is to be a maker. And to be a maker is to be down in the muck of making and not always to fly so high above the muck.

Poetry is Not a Project/ Dorothy Lasky

We can’t float or fly for long, above. We are part of the muck, not stuck but entangled, beholden

to work down/ to ocean’s black depths/us us an impulse tests/the unknown — Paean to Place/ LN

2 loops / 1.5 miles
lake nokomis open swim
80 degrees

Open swim! Open swim! I was nervous before the swim, wondering if I would see the buoys. I did! The water felt wonderful — a little cold, but not too cold, and wavy but not choppy. I watched the sun filtering through the water, avoided the vegetation growing up from the bottom and the swan boat stuck right by the orange buoy. That menacing swan was a little too close as I neared the buoy. The last green buoy was so far from the orange buoy — it seemed to take forever to reach the beginning of the loop. Oh, I love open swim and what joy to have had a good first swim!

june 12/WALK

1 mile with Scott
neighborhood
82 degrees

Was planning to bike to the lake and swim today, but it rained. On and off all day. So I read about Lorine Niedecker and took notes. Then, a quick walk with Scott.

Here are some observations from my deck, the yard, the window at my desk, and the walk:

10+ Things

  1. deck: the sky heavy, gray, expectant — but it’s not supposed to rain today! — it did and then did again
  2. deck: under the lime green umbrella, hearing the first drops, soft and slight
  3. deck: the service-berry bush at the edge of the deck did a better job of keeping the deck dry than the umbrella!
  4. front yard: after rain today, and the wind the past few days, the yard was almost as much twig as grass. Our neighbor’s tall tree with the wandering limbs offers unwanted gifts all year
  5. desk/window: in the left window, a blob stretches above the other hydrangea leaves — dark, diseased — what is it?
  6. side yard: not sure what this blob is even up close — could it be army worms? or is it just a failed unfurling?
  7. side yard: near the gate, a rogue tree is growing outside of our neighbor’s window. Will they cut it down before it gets too big and becomes a problem for us?
  8. desk/window: rain, pouring down, missing the gutter and sliding straight off the roof in sheets — too much debris/dirt in the gutter?
  9. no lightening but far off thunder rumbles
  10. green green green green green green green green
  11. cabbage or lettuce or something else green growing in a neighbor’s planter
  12. the sweet snell of pine after the rain
  13. convinced I was seeing a giant fish sculpture until Scott told me it was wrapping over a tree
  14. workers re-roofing a sharply angled roof with no harnesses

Here ares some thoughts to remember from Niedecker:

1

LN’s life by/with/on water involves saturation not transcendence.

2

Thru birdstart
wingdrip
weed-drift
of the soft and serious
water
(from “My Life on Water”/ LN)

3

Reading is a bodily act — within the body, not transcending the body. The physical act of reading words with diseased eyes.

4

Time to challenge the myth that not being able to see “naturally” makes your hearing improve — That visual impairment improves hearing, taste, touch, smell, is mostly myth — Halos. Ed Bok Lee — LN used sound in remarkable ways, and also explored seeing differently.

5

One of the traditions LN draws from, Objectivism, believed in the clear, straight-seeing eye. In later work, like “Wintergreen Ridge,” she challenged the possibility of this straight-seeing.

Tell all the truth but tell it Slant — ED
Alice Oswald and the slow, oblique, slight squinting of the Old Women in the Illiad

6

Imagists (Ezra Pound, HD): to see the world as it is, the IS, the this, scrubbing away to the essence

Objectivists (Zukofsky, Williams Carlos Williams): to look with clear eyes, pay attention, as is in context

Oh my scouring eye/that scrubs clean the sky — “perhaps you tire of birds”/ Donika Kelly

7

I used to think I was goofing off unless I held only to the hard, clean image, the think you could put your hand on. But now I dare do this reflection.

LN

8

Video, My Life By Water

june 11/RUN

4.5 miles
veterans home and back
56 degrees

Still struggling with endurance, still showing up. How much of this is mental, how much physical? The sixty-four thousand dollar question, as my dad used to say. I think it’s both, but probably more mental. Maybe the lexapro is already kicking in, but my struggles aren’t bothering me. After the run I thought, these struggles will make showing up at the marathon start line, then finishing 4-5 hours later, much more meaningful.

It rained this morning, so everything was wet, even the air. Everything was also green. Green green green. Any other colors? Nope, not much to break up the green. Green green green green green.

10 Things

  1. lush green, dark, on the part of the path that goes below the road
  2. puddles
  3. a woman ahead of me, running, wearing only one compression sleeve on her right calf
  4. a group of kids walking to the playground at minnehaha
  5. a much bigger group of kids walking near 42nd — a long line, 3 across, took me 10 or 15 or more? seconds to pass them
  6. gushing water near the ravine by the oak savanna
  7. the bright yellow crosswalk sign — my bee — was muted in the gray sky
  8. crossing the bridge high above the creek, all green, no view of the water below
  9. lush green, dark, on the steep hill descending to the locks and dam no 1
  10. a pile of e-bikes parked near a bench — black with blue accents

paean to place/ lorine niedecker

Before my run, I started writing out, by hand, Niedecker’s poem. It’s so long! My hand started cramping up. I had to write slowly to account for my visual errors, like not seeing the words I’ve already written and writing words almost over them or above them instead of below them. The slow work is good, giving me time with each word and line.

Here’s one line I’d like to make note of:

Not hearing sora
rails’s sweet

spoon-tapped waterglass-
descending scale-
tear-drop-tittle

I wondered, what does a sora sound like, so I looked it up and listened. Yes, it sounds like LN described! Listen here to calls 1 and 2.

june 10/RUN

4 miles
minnehaha falls
60 degrees

Ah, summer mornings! Beautiful. Cooler. If I would have slept better, I would have tried to go out even earlier. The first half of the run felt good, then I got hot and it got harder. Today I didn’t worry about what that meant for my training. Instead, I enjoyed the brief minutes of walking, taking in the trees at the falls — so green! so full!

10 Things

  1. the falls, flowing, white, undulating — the water not falling straight, but almost falling over itself — was it hitting some limestone on the way down?
  2. a bundle of something on the ground next to the dirt trail — a hammock?
  3. 2 women with tall hiking packs on their backs walking on the paved path
  4. some animal — a turkey? — upset, calling out, a human voice saying something — hey?
  5. a flash below the double bridge — a sliver of creek almost covered by green
  6. 2 roller skiers near locks and dam no 1
  7. the dirt trail cutting through the small wood near ford bridge looking cool and inviting
  8. happy kids on the minnehaha park playground — happy: green voices, where green = young, outside, tender
  9. (walking back, about to cross 46th ave at 37th street) 2 older women chatting, then greeting me, oh! hello!
  10. (walking back almost to my alley) heard on a radio or from a phone or a computer in neighbor’s backyard, the next one is Scandia — was this talk radio or a zoom meeting or what?

Lorine Niedecker and “Paean to Place”

to dwell with a place:

What is required, however, is sensual, embodied experience—close encounters of awe, wonder, fright, disgust, or even tedium—which remind us both of the real earth with which we dwell, and that we share our home with innumerable cohabitants.

Dwelling with Place: Lorine Niedecker’s Ecopoetics

opening to “Paean to Place”:

Fish
fowl
flood
Water lily mud
My life

in the leaves and on water
My mother and I
born
in swale and swamp and sworn
to water

My father
thru marsh fog
sculled down
from high ground
saw her face

at the organ
bore the weight of lake water
and the cold—
he seined for carp to be sold
that their daughter

might go high
on land
to learn

Wow! Reading this opening, I’m thinking about the Objectivists and the Imagists and Ezra Pound’s 3 rules for writing poetry:

  1. Direct treatment of the “thing,” whether subjective or objective
  2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation
  3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome

What condensery and music in these lines! And what wonderfully effective descriptions of two people dwelling in and with a particular place, especially her mother, born in swale and swamp and bearing the weight of lake water and the cold.

definition of ecopoetics:

The word itself is an amalgam of two Greek words: oikos [household or family] and poïesis [making, creating, or producing], so that ecopoeticsquite literally means the creation of a dwelling place, or home-making. The term came into special prominence after the influential British literary critic Jonathan Bate published The Song of the Earth in 2000. There, Bate defined ecopoetics as a critical practice in which the central tasks are to ask “in what respects a poem may be a making … of the dwelling-place” and to “think about what it might mean to dwell upon the earth.”

Dwelling with Place: Lorine Niedecker’s Ecopoetics

LN’s opening lines and her descriptions of her parents, reminds me of Mary Oliver’s The Leaf and the Cloud and her brief mentions of her parents in the first section, “Flare.” LN and MO have different experiences but they rhyme, somehow, or echo?

My mother
was the blue wisteria,
my mother
was the mossy stream out behind the house,
my mother, alas, alas,
did not always love her life,
heavier than iron it was
as she carried it in her arms, from room to room,
oh, unforgettable!

Like LN, MO was also an amazing poet of place, but she doesn’t extend her ideas of place to her parents — a deliberate severing:

I mention them now,
I will not mention them again.

It is not lack of love
nor lack of sorrow.
But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.

So much to say about that iron, but I have run out of time right now. Perhaps more later. . .

I’m back. First, the not carrying the iron makes me think of my mom and her desire for displacement from her abusive parents. More than once she said to me that she wanted to break that cycle of abuse — and she did. And I am grateful. But there’s something to explore here for me and my relationship to place, this place 4 miles from where my mom was born and raised, that I can’t quite get at yet.

The iron also reminds me of the wonderful lines from the opening of LN’s “Lake Superior”:

In every part of every living thing
is stuff that once was rock

In blood the minerals
of the rock

*

Iron the common element of earth

Both MO and LN write about their fathers. First, MO:

My father
was a demon of frustrated dreams,
was a breaker of trusts,
was a poor, thin boy with bad luck.
He followed God, there being no one else
he could talk to;
he swaggered before God, there being no one else
who would listen.

and LN:

He could not
—like water bugs—
stride surface tension
He netted
loneliness. . .

. . . Anchored here
in the rise and sink
of life—
middle years’ nights
he sat

beside his shoes
rocking his chair
Roped not “looped
in the loop
of her hair”

The “looped” quote comes from William Butler Yeats and his poem, Brown Penny and it’s about love. I like how she throws in this line from poets or about poets, like this:

Grew riding the river
Books
at home-pier
Shelly would steer
as he read

I noticed another line of the poem in quotes, “We live by the urgent wave/of the verse.” Looked it up and found an article about “Paean to Place” and thanks to my college-attending son, I have access to it! Time to read it: Lorine Niedecker’s “Paean to Place” and its Fusion Poetics


june 9/RUN

3.7 miles
trestle turn around
65 degrees

Warm and windy. Lots of sweat. Another day of telling myself to keep showing up. A hard run with lots of walking. But, one faster, freer mile, and some scattered thoughts that might lead to something! I’ll take it.

11 Things

  1. under the lake street bridge, the side of the road was packed with parked cars — rowers?!
  2. yes, rowers: heard the coxswain calling out instructions
  3. briefly watched the rowers through a gap in the trestle: a head, an oar, a boat gliding by
  4. ran into a branch while avoiding another runner, just a few inches from my eye, imagined a scenario in my head where the branch had cut my eye
  5. in the tunnel of threes: a sea of swaying green
  6. a woman stretching in the 35th street parking lot, blasting music out of her phone
  7. wind pushing me from behind, making my ponytail swing to one side
  8. a cartoonish figure spray-painted on the sidewalk: bright orange outline
  9. loud rustling in the nearby brush then a hiker emerging from below
  10. whoooosssshhh — the wind rushing through the trees
  11. dragonflies? running near the trestle, an insect with a long, narrow body and wings almost flew into my mouth — no iridescent color, no color. Later, pausing at the top of the steps, I saw half a dozen of them. They opened and closed their wings in the sun

Yesterday, I decided that the theme of color or green wasn’t working for me this month. Instead, I’d like to return (again) to Lorine Niedecker. I’m particularly interested in her form of condensing and how I might apply it to my Haunts poems. Yes, the haunts poems are haunting me again. Before heading out for my run, I found a few lines from LN’s “Paean to Place,” that I especially like:

 grew in green
slide and slant
of shore and shade

            Child-time—wade
thru weeds

Maples to swing from
Pewee-glissando

      sublime
 slime-
song

A few times, I recited the first big: I grew in green/slide and slant/of shore and shade. As I thought about those lines I wondered what I grew up in. Green, for sure, but not by water. Then it came to me: I grew up on the edge of green in subdivisions that butted up against farms and woods, creeping, consuming those green spaces. I also grew up in carefully managed and cultivated green — bike paths through small stretches of trees offering the illusion of nature, privately owned by the subdivision. A very different green than the rural green of my dad’s farm in the UP or the urban green of my mom here by the Mississippi River. I thought about the managed green I run by and the difference between it, a public, national park, and the managed green of my suburban childhood, with its private green parks and private (No Trespassing!) acres of farm land, soon to be sold and converted into more “little boxes.”

Yes! The green I grew in was in-between col-de-sacs, and within small ravines and the slight stretches of trees or creeks developers left for aesthetic reasons. This green has deeply influenced my understanding of the wild and “green” spaces and is one reason why I’m fascinated by the management of nature.

march 16/RUN

2.2 miles
neighborhood
39 degrees / feels like 30
wind: 16 mph / 30 mph gusts

Windy! Colder. Winter layers: black running tights, black shorts, black shirt, purple jacket, pink ear band, black gloves, hat. Thought about running more but remembered that Scott and I are doing a 10k tomorrow. So I ran 2 miles through the neighborhood. My restraint was partly due to the wind, which I ran almost straight into heading north.

10 Things

  1. some dull wind chimes — it wasn’t the clunk clank of wood chimes, but also not the tinkle-tingle-shimmer of metal ones — an unpleasant cacophony
  2. right before starting: a crying kid on the next block — by the time I reached then and their entourage (mom, dog, stroller) — they were laughing — oh to be a kid and to shake anger or disappointment or whatever bad feelings they were having off that quickly — my 8 year old self used to be that way
  3. the trail on edmund between 32nd and 33rd started muddy then turned into hard, packed dirt
  4. heavy gray sky — the type of light that makes it hard for me to see anything completely
  5. the sky was dark enough that a house had on their garage light — I felt a flash of light! as I ran by
  6. harder to see the dirt trail and the roots
  7. voices across the road and below, on the trail — next to me, then ahead of me, then gone
  8. smoke from a chimney on edmund — reminder that winter is still here
  9. a loud rush of noise — an approaching car? No, the wind moving through a pine tree
  10. the swishswishswish of my ponytail hitting the collar of my jacket

Thinking about the wind, I reread ED’s poem, “The Wind.” Here are some ways she describes the wind:

  • old measure in the boughs
  • phraseless melody
  • fleshless chant

Searched “wind” on poems.com and found this amazing poem by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, “All Wild Animals Were Once Called Deer“:

High up a plane droned, drone of the cold, and behind us the flag
In front of the Bank of Hope’s branch trailer snapped and popped in the wind.
It sounded like a boy whipping a wet towel against a thigh

Or like the stiff beating of a swan’s wings as it takes off
From the lake, a flat drumming sound, the sound of something
Being pounded until it softens, and then—as the wind lowered

And the flag ran out wide—there was a second sound, the sound of running fire.
And there was the scraping, too, the sad knife-against-skin scraping
Of the acres of field corn strung out in straggling rows

Around the branch trailer that had been, the winter before, our town’s claim to fame
When, in the space of two weeks, it was successfully robbed twice.
The same man did it both times, in the same manner.

This whole poem is amazing, but too long to post here. What a storyteller BPK is! I should read her collection, Song.

more Lorine Niedecker and “Lake Superior”

On Thursday and Friday I read more of “Lake Superior.” I came to these lines and stopped:

Ruby of corundum
lapis lazuli
from changing limestone
glow-apricot red-brown
carnelian sard

Greek named
Exodus-antique
kicked up in America’s
Northwest
you have been in my mind
between my toes
agate

Huh? I am not an agate expert, so I had to look up everything but the last three lines. Without explaining it all (if I even could), I noticed how fascinated she is with language and culture and the history of the agate as it traveled across cultures.

Of course I might have understood more of the references if I had read her journal first, LN opens her travel journal with this:

The agate was first found on the shores of a river in Sicily and named by the Greeks. In the Bible (Exodus) this semi-precious stone was seen on the priest’s breastplate.

A rock is made of minerals constantly on the move and changing from heat, cold, and pressure.

On the next page, she writes: So—here we go. Maybe as rocks and I pass each other I could say how-do-you-do to an agate.

Then, a few pages later:

The North is one vast, massive, glorious corruption of rock and language—granite is underlaid with limestone or sandstone, gneiss is made-over granite, shales, or sandstone and so forth and so on and Thompsonite (or Thomasonite_ is often mistaken for agate and agate is shipped in from Mexico and Uruguay and can even be artifically dyed in the bargain. And look what’s been done to language!–People of all nationalities and color have changed the language like weather and pressure have changed the rocks.

And then:

I didn’t miss the Agate Shop sign. Woman there knew rocks. whole store of all kinds of samples, labelled. Sold them cheaply too, i.e. agates mounted on adjustable rings cost $1.75. I bought one of these, not the most beautiful but a Lake Superior one, I was told. Also bought . . . a brilliant carnelian from Uruguay. There were corundum samples—also from Canada, the stone that is next to diamonds in hardness. (Deep red rubies, which are corundum minerals, are valued more than diamonds.)

and:

The pebble has traveled. Long ago it might have been a drop of magma, molten rock that oured out from deep inside the earth. Perhaps when the magma coooled it formed part of a mountain that was later worn down and carried away by a rushing stream. Of the pebble may have been carried thousands of miles by a slowly moving glacier that finally melted and left it to be washed up for someone to pick up.

I love how LN took all of her notes and ideas about rock and language and culture and commerce and turned them into this small chunk of the poem. So much said, with so little words! And then to end it with: you have been in my mind/between my toes/agate Wow!

The trails above and beside the gorge have not been between my toes but under my feet and in my mind — maybe I could add a variation of this line to the first section of my poem?