july 17/RUN

4.5 miles
longfellow gardens / minnehaha falls
65 degrees

What a morning! Cooler and less humid. Ran to Longfellow Gardens to check out the flowers. In full bloom, mostly red and purple. People sitting on the benches — I couldn’t see them that well, but I imagine some of them were painting or taking photographs.

image: A portable red lawn chair in the shade under a tree. A person sit in it, facing the field with the statue of Longfellow, their back to the flowers.

Returning to the falls, I noticed a few trucks and heard voices chanting. Was it some religious thing? Or military training? A protest? RJP might know; one of her best friends works at the restaurant at the falls.

Took the steps down to the bottom of the falls, which were roaring. So was the creek. Walked then ran beside the water as it rushed by. Eventually it reaches the mississippi, but I crossed the bridge well before that happens. Admired the water that collects in a pool — sparkle and shimmer. In the afternoon, kids congregate here, wading and splashing, but not this morning. Just me, and a few diggers in the distance. What are they digging up?

Took the steps — more than 100 of them — back up to the park. Wow, what a leg burn! Glad I didn’t try running them!

Found this green poem this morning.

Mount Grace Priory/ G.C. Waldrep

It was not a question of not having the language for it—
having two, in fact. The walking towards it,
and then the walking away. How that felt, all the green
gathering itself to the idea of green, lingering
right at the edge of the dark, what we call the dark.
And the languages, both of them, noticing that, envying
it. From their places at the beginning & at the end.

all the green/gathering itself to the idea of green

I want to think about this green and the two languages and the dark, or what we call the dark, some more.

july 16/RUNSWIM

4 miles
river road, north/south
73 degrees
humidity: 86% / dew point: 60

A wonderful sunny morning. Not too hot yet, although the humidity took its toll. By the end of the run, I was dripping sweat. Another improved run. Went farther before I stopped for a quick break, then convinced myself to keep going on the way back. Believing again that I can do the marathon in October.

Decided to listen today. Thinking about how delightful it is to move through the neighborhood, passing from sound to sound.

Sounds

  1. a chorus of BIRD — chattering, chirping, cheeping
  2. a little toddler voice trying to repeat binoculars after his mom said it in a neighbor’s backyard
  3. the shshshsh of my feet striking grit on the sidewalk
  4. overheard from one biker to another — and it was so quiet you could hear the water lapping against the shore
  5. a male coxswain below instructing rowers
  6. my house key softly jingling in my pack
  7. a walker’s keys jangling loudly in his pocket
  8. whoosh after whoosh after whoosh of car wheels passing on the road
  9. the buzz on a riding lawn mower — a park working mowing the grass beside the trail
  10. 2 sets of tap tap tap tapping from roofers — about a dozen taps each, at slightly different speeds, then a short break, then more taps
  11. the quiet hops of a bunny moving across a neighbor’s grass
  12. a lawn mower hitting a twig or a root — thwack!
  13. the clicking of a roller skier’s poles

I think my favorite sound was the soft footsteps of the bunny hurrying across the lawn. A silvery whisper only possible to hear on a calm summer morning like today. I love the sound of animal feet moving — running or hopping through the grass, thundering over hard dirt, scampering in the soft snow.

I posted this poem on here 2 years ago:

The Locust/ Leonara Speyer

Its hot voice sizzles from some cool tree
Near-by:
It seems to burn its way through the air
Like a small, pointed flame of sound
Sharpened on the ecstatic edge of sunbeams.

Speyer is describing a locust but as I wrote on the 16 july 2022, her description makes me think of a brood of cicadas. This sound is LOUD and interrupts you, demanding you notice it. The bunny’s soft footsteps were quiet and easily unnoticed. It feels like an accomplishment to have been quiet and aware enough to hear them.

So, I’m thinking about sound today. Another inspiration: Ears don’t lie.

Hearing is our fastest sense. (Who knew?!) Horowitz says that it takes our brain at least one-quarter of a second to process visual recognition. But sound? You can recognize a sound in 0.05 seconds. And our brain is so adept at hearing the differences between sounds, we can sense changes of sound that occur in “less than a millionth of a second,” according to Horowitz’s book [The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind].

Ears don’t lie

This source led me to a Radiolab story that includes Horowitz: Never Quite Now. This story is not just about sound, but our nerves and neurons and how long it takes for us to process the world. Here’s a helpful description of how our body sees and then wants a pen:

JAD: Okay, so the eye takes the light that’s reflected off the pen, turns it into a little electrical signal, and then sends that deep into the middle of the brain.

CARL ZIMMER: Takes a couple hundredths of a second.

JAD: Bounces around for a bit, and then within …

CARL ZIMMER: A few more hundredths of a second …

JAD: The signal has made it …

CARL ZIMMER: All the way back to the rear end of the brain, where you start processing vision.

JAD: But this is just the beginning.

CARL ZIMMER: Right. Now you’ve gotta like figure out what you’re seeing.

JAD: So our jolt is off again, this time toward the middle of the brain and then down toward the bottom.

CARL ZIMMER: To these other regions ..

JAD: That start to decode the signal.

CARL ZIMMER: The first visual region is called V1.

JAD: Next up …

CARL ZIMMER: V2, V4, and so on. And they’re gonna sharpen the image, make out contrasts, edges.

JAD: And then electricity goes back towards the front of the brain.

CARL ZIMMER: After, let’s see, another tenth of a second or so …

JAD: We finally get to a place where we think …

CARL ZIMMER: “Oh, that’s a pen.”

ROBERT: We haven’t gotten yet to “I want it”.

CARL ZIMMER: Exactly.

JAD: For that to happen, the electricity has to jump from one part of the front of the brain to another and another before you can finally say …

CARL ZIMMER: “That’s a nice pen. I could use a pen.”

JAD: [laughs]

ROBERT: [laughs]

CARL ZIMMER: And we are still not done, you know. Then—then—then …

JAD: Little jolt heads northCARL ZIMMER: To sort of the top of your brain. So we—we’ve gone from your eyes to the back of your brain, around up to the front of your brain again. And now we’re up to the top of your head where you set up motor commands, and then you can grab the pen.

ROBERT: Christ!

JAD: So I mean, you add all this up and what are we talking about here

CARL ZIMMER: About a quarter of a second.

Never Quite Now

Later in the story, Seth Horowitz describes how hearing is the fastest sense and mentions the startle circuit:

SETH HOROWITZ: A sudden loud noise activates a very specialized circuit from your ear to your spinal neurons.

JAD: You mean it bypasses the brain?

SETH HOROWITZ: Yeah, it’s the startle circuit. If you suddenly hear a loud noise, within 50 milliseconds, that’s 50 thousandths of a second, so you’re talking 20 times faster than cognition, your body jumps, will begin the release of adrenaline. No consciousness involved. It’s five neurons, and it takes 50 milliseconds.

Never Quite Now

I’ve written about the word startle before — I especially like Emily Dickinson’s startled grass. There’s a poem in here somewhere, involving bodily recognition (or reaction?) versus brain cognition.

swim: 5 loops
lake nokomis open swim
79 degrees

5 loops! What a great night for swimming in the lake! Calm, goo-free water, strong shoulders, a willing back, enough time to swim an extra loop. Amazing. Writing this a few hours later, I’m wiped out, but I felt good the whole time I was swimming. I swam for 80 minutes without stopping.

I wanted to give attention to sound as I swam, and I did. Mostly, I heard the sloshing of the water as I moved through it. Once I heard a plane roaring above me and another time I heard a lifeguard calling out. Not much else. In past years, I’ve heard squeaks or strange clanging noises, but not tonight. Just slosh slosh slosh.

The water was a pale green with the idea of pale yellow — I didn’t see yellow as much as feel that it was there. Visibility was limited, but I could see my hand in front of me, bubbles, and the underside of the water’s surface, which was very cool.

There were a few menacing swans and some kayaks.

From the shore I could see that the orange buoys were in a straight line. In the water, swimming past them, it didn’t seem as straight. At least once for each loop, I could see the orange dots of the three buoys. The green buoys were more difficult. I didn’t care; I knew where they should be and swam that way.

july 4/RUN

3.2 miles
trestle turn around
71 degrees / humidity: 78%
light rain

Raining all day today. After talking to FWA about how he likes to walk in the rain, I decided to run before the rain got heavy — thunderstorms are predicted in the late afternoon. I never mind running in the rain, but I’m usually reluctant to start in it. I’m glad I went for it today. What a beautiful green: deep, rich, fresh (but not refreshing!), comforting. The rain was light enough that I barely felt it — no soaked, clinging shirt of shorts (that happened a few weeks ago).

I’m not sure if it was raining all the time or it stopped sometimes or it was a combination of light rain with dripping trees. It was fun to run under and beside the trees when the rain-soaked leaves rustled. One time I misjudged how low a branch was and ran through it instead of under it — the cool water on my face was a surprise then a relief.

Under the lake street bridge somebody had parked a lime scooter in the middle of the walking path, forcing walkers/runners to veer out into the bike path. Dangerous — bikes bomb down the hill and cut close to the edge of the path without warning. Also, I can’t always see these scooters, or I can sort of see that they’re there, but can’t properly judge my distance from them. Hard to believe I haven’t already been impaled by the handlebars of one of these scooters (or bikes)!

I was not alone on the trail. Mostly walkers, many with umbrellas — no menacing blue umbrella guy who takes over the entire path and won’t budge an inch. Some runners, one talking on a bluetooth headset. No roller skiers. Any bikers? I can’t remember.

Bright car headlights. The whooshing of wheels through the puddles on the road.

In honor of a run in the rain (more fun to say than a rain-run, or is it?), I decided to look to my friend, Emily Dickinson, for a poem. She did not disappoint!

The Skies can’t keep their secret!/ Emily Dickinson

The Skies can’t keep their secret!

They tell it to the Hills –
The Hills just tell the Orchards –
And they—the Daffodils!



A Bird – by chance – that goes that way –
Soft overhears the whole – 

If I should bribe the little Bird – 

Who knows but she would tell?



I think I won’t – however – 

It’s finer – not to know –
If Summer were an Axiom –

What sorcery had snow?



So keep your secret – Father!
I would not – if I could – 

Know what the Sapphire Fellows, do,

In your new-fashioned world!

I found this poem on a favorite site, The Prowling Bee. I love how the blog author, Susan Kornfield, describes ED’s role as a poet:

 Dickinson again chooses the naturalist’s approach to the world rather than the academic’s or theologian’s. She observes in rich detail but is quite reluctant to draw conclusions. Better, to her, the wonder than to have the Latin names and dry scientific knowledge. I suppose this is a poet’s eye, looking at each event, each bit of the world that catches the eye, afresh. Those of us who name, categorize, and systemetize, inject at least one layer between us and the actual world. This preference for questions over answers is one reason why we love our poets!

the prowling Bee

This poem reminds me of Tony Hogland poem that I memorized as part of my 50 for 50: The Social Life of Water

All water is a part of other water.
Cloud talks to lake; mist
speaks quietly to creek.

Lake says something back to cloud,
and cloud listens.
No water is lonely water.

a few hours later: No thunder storms yet (at 2:40 pm), just a steady rain, a dark sky. I’m writing in this already finished post to add an article that I read on MPR News about Minneapolis Park Workers going on strike. The article offers some powerful descriptions of the difficult labor — physically, emotionally — that many park workers do.

Lane [a park worker] says he’s been with Minneapolis parks for more than a decade, arriving at 5 a.m. daily in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, during 2020 riots that followed the murder of George Floyd and regularly, when tasked to clean up homeless encampments.

It can be a grueling job, he said. He’s frequently cleaning up broken glass, needles and feces, ensuring the public spaces are safe to enjoy. On one of his most difficult days, Lane said he watched a woman die from an overdose. But like any other day on the job, he pushed on.

“Just to see the poverty was disheartening,” he said. “It touched me, man. I cried a few times just thinking about how people are living out here.

Hundreds of Minneapolis Park Workers Poised to Strike for a Week

Wow. I often notice and appreciate the park workers, but it’s usually related to tree-trimming or road patching. I don’t think enough about this other, less visible, labor. What a difficult task to clear out encampments, especially if you disagree with the decision that they need to be cleared out. Last month, while running with Scott, I recall pointing out all of the tents and tarps and stuff propped up near a trash can on the trail just above the gorge. I wasn’t sure why it was there, but now I imagine it was the aftermath from an encampment clear out by park workers.

july 2/RUNSWIM

4 miles
monument and back*
65 degrees / dew point: 62
drizzle**

*a new route? Through the neighborhood, over the lake street bridge, up the summit hill, over to the Civil War Monument and back
**or as I’ve been known to say, spittin’ (does that come from the UP? the south? the midwest?)

Even though the dew point was high, the drizzle helped it feel cooler. Everything dark and quiet, calm, green. Passed the guy who is always sitting on his front stoop smoking. Also passed kids arriving at the church daycare. Pushed myself to keep running up the summit hill even though I wanted to stop. Made it!

Chanted triple berries for a mile or two. It helped distract me. raspberry / blueberry / strawberry

10 Things

  1. shadow falls was gushing through the trees
  2. the street lamps were glowing on the st. paul side
  3. rowers on the river! an 8-person shell. The coxswain was advising them on where to place the paddles in the high water (we have a river flood warning)
  4. morning! from a passing runner — good morning!
  5. the river was a beautiful gray blue, the trees a rich green
  6. so windy on the bridge heading east that I had to take my cap off and hold it
  7. the whining of a power saw in the distance
  8. alone at the monument overlook
  9. sometimes it was a drizzle, sometimes just a mist — difficult to tell which while running and sweating
  10. enveloped in dark green in the tunnel of trees — the only light was green light and a small circle of white at the top of the hill

As I looked down at the river from high above on the gorge, I thought about the rowers and their paddles and how different their experience of the water was to mine. Down there in the water, I bet it’s choppy and bumpy, with wind and spray. Up here, it’s almost flat and gray blue. No feeling of motion — no waves or the unsettling sense of being higher on water that’s on the edge of spilling over somewhere.

Yesterday I started thinking again about different bodies of water and how poets write about them: Mary Oliver (ponds), Lorine Niedecker (lakes), Alice Oswald (rivers, the sea). I also remembered Cole Swenson and their writing about the river Gave de Pau in Gave. I think I need to buy this book! Anyway, I looked up a few more of their poems and read one titled, “To Circumferate.” These lines stuck with me:

With a careful
adjustment of eye there are
no buildings. A city of trees
and hedges

As I ran back from the monument, looking left to the ravine and the trees, I thought about that line and imagined the stretches of grass, the trees, the green ravine as a city — the only city — no buildings or houses or roads or cars, only trees and tall grasses and bushes leading down to the river.

All of this thinking about different bodies of water reminded me of something I started to read but had to return to the library before I got very far, Visitation/ Jenny Erpenbeck. I took a screen-shot of the first two pages and the amazing description of water within them:

swim: 3 loops
lake nokomis open swim
75 degrees / drizzle

A great swim! Now I’m cold and tired and hungry!

10 Things

  1. more ghost vines glowing below
  2. one menacing white swan
  3. the water below was a deep green with some blue
  4. the water near the shore was still clear enough to see the sandy bottom
  5. the sky was pale — no sun, except for a few times when it almost broke through
  6. it’s the free night for open swim so more bobbing buoys — yellow was the most popular color
  7. breathed mostly every five
  8. tangled in a few vines, one leaf didn’t want to go away
  9. stopped once or twice in the middle of the lake — calm, quiet — I should stop more
  10. some little speck got in my eye at the beginning of the swim — I should have stopped to fix my goggles, but I just kept swimming, now it’s still stuck in there

june 27/RUNSWIM

5 miles
bottom of franklin hill and back
69 degrees

Another run that started easy then got hard. My left hip and knee were stiff and sore. Walked several times on the way back.

Listened to feet shuffling on the grit, some keys jangling in a bucket. Smelled something floral and sweet near the franklin bridge. Felt a cool breeze on my warm face, sweat dripping off of my pony tail. Saw blue, red, and orange graffiti under the lake street bridge and a man helping a dog get through a hole in the chain link fence halfway down the franklin hill.

Ran by a break in the trees with an inviting dirt trail and thought again about how I love seeing these trails and wondering where they lead. Then I thought about how I prefer trails that have already been made by others — an invitation from past feet to explore and to step off the paved path.

Saw this poem online this morning and was surprised that I hadn’t already posted it:

blessing the boats/ lucille clifton

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

swim: 3 loops
72 degrees
light rain

I like swimming in the rain — when it’s a light rain. Have I ever swam in a hard rain? I’m not sure. When you are already wet, it’s difficult to tell what’s rain and what’s lake. Another great swim. I’m struggling in my runs, but loving the water.

10 things

  1. a steady rain that I couldn’t feel or see as I swam
  2. water, a darker green with some blue
  3. tangled in several thin, loose vines — one on my head, another my shoulders, and another on my legs — most were just slimy, but one was sharp and scratchy
  4. pale vines stretching up from the deepest parts of the lake — how tall are these vines this year? they glowed like the moon behind the clouds
  5. particles in the water, almost looking like glitter — or, was that raindrops breaking the surface?*
  6. mostly breathing every five — a few sixes, some threes, at least one two
  7. pink orange yellow safety buoys tethered to swimmers
  8. rounding the second green buoy, sighting the first orange buoy — so far off and lonely — just it and water — and only appearing in my vision when it wanted to
  9. some sort of disturbance below me — was it a big fish? — nothing seen, only felt, the water moving beneath me
  10. standing up near the beach after I finished, noticing the rain, then hearing some kids in the water excitedly yelling, It’s raining!

*It wasn’t until I wrote this out that I realized I was noticing the rain. It was very cool. The rain drop glitter made the water feel more alive, active — stirred up and swirling

I was surprised by how many people were at the beach. It had been raining all afternoon. People were still having picnics, kids were still in the water, several dozen swimmers were out on the course

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 24/SWIM

2.5 big loops (5 cedar loops)
cedar lake open swim
84 degrees
20+ wind gusts

Big wind gusts as Scott and I walked on the gravel trail to the lake. I wondered how choppy it would be — not bad. No waves forcing me to breathe on just one side. Felt stronger than last Wednesday.

I’m writing this entry the next morning. What do I remember?

10 Things

  1. swimming through a loose vine — wrapped around my shoulders for a moment — not sharp or scratchy
  2. a swimmer in a pink cap (this year’s cap color is an ugly bronze)
  3. a tangled patch of vegetation growing up from the bottom right by the buoy
  4. black, wet-suited arms beside me for a few strokes
  5. the water above, a dull blue
  6. the water below, a vague empty green
  7. no waves but sometimes it was hard to stay up on the surface
  8. the lifeguard’s kayak gliding by me, fast and smooth and red
  9. more vegetation from below in the middle of lake — how tall are these vines?
  10. last year, the far buoy was placed very close to the swimming area at hidden beach, this year it is farther out

Alice Oswald and Nobody

I’m having fun returning to Nobody, feeling like I’ve found some ways into AO’s watery dream-world. I love reading it and Lorine Niedecker and then swimming across a lake.

1

Reviewing my notes in my Plague Notebook, Vol 21 (!), I found this, from AO in “Interview with Water”: continuous present, dream time. This reminds me of Mary Oliver’s now and now and now, which comes up in The Leaf and the Cloud and “Can You Imagine”:

but now and now and now

Swimming across the lake is both a continuous present and not a continuous present. I’m not aware of time, but I do keep track of loops. Maybe each loop is its own continuous present? It would be interesting to try and get lost in the loops, to not count them. I can set up an alarm or a distance workout on my watch that will alert me when I reached a certain amount of time or distance. (How) would the dream-state be different in this loopy state?

2

I’d like to remember (memorize?) this part of Nobody which I imagine is about making poems:

About an hour ago she surfaced and shook her arms
and peered around and dived again and surfaced
and saw someone and dived again and surfaced
and smelt all those longings of grass-flower smells
and bird-flower sounds and the vaporous poems
that hang in the chills above rivers

Those vaporous poems! The diving and surfacing and diving and surface! I love this as a description of a poet — me? — finding words hanging just above the surface. Could they be there for me today during my swim?

3

This definition of day turning to night — wow!

I’ve always loved the way when night happens
the blood is drawn off is sucked and soaked upwards
out of the cliff-flowers the way they worn out
surrender their colors and close and then the sky
suffers their insights all the shades of mauve green blue
move edgelessly from west to east the cold
comes ghostly out of holes and the earth it’s strange
as soon as she shuts her sky-lids her hindsights open
and you can see right out through her blindness
as far as the ancient stars still making their precise points
still exactly visible and then not exactly

june 21/RUN

4.15 miles
the monument and back
67 degrees
humidity: 91% / dew point: 65

Yuck! The air is so thick, everything heavy with moisture. We were supposed to have thunderstorms this morning — 90% chance — so I ruled out open swim, but they haven’t happened yet. Bummer. I bet it would have been a good swim.

I ran through the neighborhood, over the lake street bridge, up the summit hill and to the monument. Then I turned around and ran back, this time running south on the river road path instead of through the neighborhood.

10 Things

  1. 3 stones stacked on the ancient boulder
  2. a strange whimpering, soft howling or moaning sound coming from under the bridge on the east side — a non-human animal? a bird?
  3. no rowers on the river
  4. a foul, rotting smell as I ran over the bridge — I thought of the rot* that Alice Oswald mentioned in “Interview with Water” and the scarlet rot that FWA told me about yesterday when he recounted some “Elden Ring lore”
  5. a dark, deep green everywhere
  6. flowers alongside the trail on the east side: green leaves, fanned like ferns, pale white or purple flowers, small, dotting the green
  7. new (or newly noticed) graffiti under the bridge on the east side — brick red, I think
  8. the dark reflections of tree in the water near the shore — so dark that they look like shadows to me
  9. the faintest trace of a sandbar under the bridge
  10. the usual puddles near shadow falls are back, almost covering the entire path

*AO and rot: “anything excessive or out of focus or subliminal — for example: a swimmer seen from underneath, a rotting smell. . .”

Here’s another Alice Oswald water poem that I uncovered in a dissertation about Oswald, Jorie Graham, and water!

Sea Sonnet/ Alice Oswald

Green, grey and yellow, the sea and the weather
instantiate each other and the spectrum
turns in it like a perishable creature.
The sea is old but the blue sea is sudden.

The wind japans the surface. Like a flower,
each point of contact biggens and is gone.
And when it rains the senses fold in four.
No sky, no sea – the whiteness is all one.

So I have made a little moon-like hole
with a thumbnail and through a blade of grass
I watch the weather make the sea my soul,
which is a space performed on by a space;

and when it rains, the very integer
and shape of water disappears in water.

Almost forgot: japan is a new word for me. Here are some definitions, both noun and verb:

noun:

  1. any of several varnishes yielding a hard brilliant finish
  2. a hard dark coating containing asphalt and a drier that is used especially on metal and fixed by heating — called also japan black

verb:

  1. to cover with or as if with a coat of japan
  2. to give a high gloss to

june 18/RUN

3.1 miles
trestle turn around
76 degrees / feels like 82
dew point: 71

Ugh! I knew it was going to be tough when I felt too hot even before I started running. More rain last night — enough to cancel our final community band concert — and more thick, sticky air this morning.

Greeted Mr. Morning! and Mr. Holiday. Saw Dave the Daily Walker but he was too far away to greet. Counted the stacked stones on the ancient boulder: 4. Heard some strange creaks below the trestle — what were people doing down there? Also heard the rowers on the river. Felt the sweat pooling on my face, my shorts sticking to my legs.

When the dew point temperature and air temperature are equal, the air is said to be saturated.

Observed Dew Point Temperature

Almost saturated — temp = 76, dew point = 71.

Looking through the trees somewhere near the trestle, I could see the river burning bright white — even the water looked hot!

Oh, this beautiful poem by Tony Hoagland! He died in 2018 (at the age of 64) from pancreatic cancer. My mom died from pancreatic cancer. It’s terrible. This poem was published in 2007.

Barton Springs/ Tony Hoagland

Oh life, how I loved your cold spring mornings
of putting my stuff in the green gym-bag
and crossing wet grass to the southeast gate
to push my crumpled dollar through the slot.

When I get my allotted case of cancer,
let me swim ten more times at Barton Springs,
in the outdoor pool at 6AM, in the cold water
with the geezers and the jocks.

With my head bald from radiation
and my chemotherapeutic weight loss
I will be sleek as a cheetah
—and I will not complain about life’s

pedestrian hypocrisies,
I will not consider death a contractual violation.
Let my cancer be the slow-growing kind
so I will have all the time I need

to backstroke over the rocks and little fishes,
looking upwards through my bronze-tinted goggles
into the vaults and rafters of the oaks,
as the crows exchange their morning gossip

in the pale mutations of early light.
It was worth death to see you through these optic nerves,
to feel breeze through the fur on my arms
to be chilled and stirred in your mortal martini.

In documents elsewhere I have already recorded
my complaints in some painstaking detail.
Now, because all things are joyful near water,
there just might be time to catch up on praise.

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.