Running. Foraging. Wild Leeks
. Letterpress, tree frottage, walnut ink, ink, artist book, 2011
I kept going to memories of running. Running in the Caribbean as a Peace Corps Volunteer, running in Paris, in San Francisco, in my hometown in Ohio and in my own backyard in the Berkshires. This poem is about a personal sadness that that stays with me and sometimes paralyzes me, sometimes for a fraction of a second, and often when I’m running.
Here it is in poem/prose form, and in book form.
I expertly navigate the rocky incline of Kitchen Brook trail, skipping over rocks and streams gushing with spring snow melt, straining to see up the hillside for a glimpse of wild leeks. A tiny spade and a plastic bag bang lightly against my hip.
You don’t even know which sadness comes up in you?
The streams spill over, flowing over the easy stepping-stones. I leap thoughtlessly, unconsciously hopeful. Muddy, ice-cold water shocks my feet for a sharp second. I propel myself forward, nevertheless.
What makes you stand still, lock-eyed with the knot of a tree?
The leeks root surprisingly deep. I shove the spade down the side of their long straggly roots, wiggling the spade to dislodge the leek from the granite pebbles and sandy soil. I shake the dirt loose before plunging the greens into the nearby stream. I return to the trail with greens tucked safely in the bag.
Are you trying to will yourself roots to this forest?
The last mile and a half slopes downward, the trail mysteriously maintained and no longer blocked by fallen limbs. I pick up speed in the final descent towards the last brook crossing. Halting, I wish for a time machine to reveal the moment when snow melt and massive rains violently reorganized this crossing, sweeping a single-tree island and toddler sized boulders out of sight, leaving a precarious jumble of rocks for passage.
Why are you squatting? Staring into nothingness?
I am unable to cross this brook.
I am unable to choose which rock.
I am too tired to run the five miles back.
I am unable to cross the six feet to the quarter mile back home.
You don’t even know which sadness comes up in you, do you?