Parallel Lines

A few days ago I was running along a path in a park, one I go to often, so it’s very familiar. Somehow my mind turned to describing my run in abstract terms, something more general than listing out what I actually saw and did. I started to contrast a general phrase with the equivalent descriptive one. I came up with a series of disconnected two sentence fragments – an example being:

the road grew darker
(Black gravel has replaced the original white in this section)
and the footing uncertain
(the trail is still full of holes)

These lines didn’t make it into the final, but they are what started me thinking. So you see where I was going? If nothing else, thinking about these ideas really kept my mind occupied for several miles!

I came home and wrote it all out. And it also occurred to me that there I really had written three chapters: the all-inclusive version, the more melodramatic version, and the everyday explanation version. Reminds me of how often our minds work – we are saying one thing and thinking another at the very same time, and maybe it’s just chance which one comes out.

Or, is it that there are so many ways to convey an experience, and none of them really doing justice to it?

Plus, sometimes I think it’s pretty easy in poetry to get caught up in language that is a bit more elaborate. I always hope to be plain and straightforward, myself, but that’s my style. So this poem has “poetic” style to it that I would not usually think of when writing, but I do read it quite often. Or at least my attempt at it – and it can contrast with the everyday words more natural to me in a nice way, I think.

Read these and see what you think. I do believe you will get a good picture of how I feel when I am running along this trail!

Quest 1

I set off on my journey
(I plan to run five miles along a trail in the park)
knowing that many others had traveled this path.
(The trail is set in the former commuter train roadbed.)
My steps were uncertain
(I was stiff in my joints)
but soon I found a rhythm
(I warmed up)
and the road began to follow me.
(Now I’ve run about a mile.)
The sunlight slanted through the trees
(it’s about eight-thirty in the morning)
streaks lighting the stream
(a wide but shallow creek runs along the path).
the road high above it
(There is a steep drop-off to my right)
curving through shadows
(some of these trees cluster pretty thickly along here)
and back into full sun
(it can get hot on a summer day, but it’s pleasant today.)
long full sweeps with only a hint
(The long-gone trains required gradual turns)
of what lies ahead.
(it’s not necessary to see to the end, just to go.)
Others move along this same path
(People walk, ride bikes, run, or stand and watch birds)
at their own paces. I do the same.
(I wave at everyone I see and recognize a lot of regulars.)
I am not conscious of fatigue and my legs do not tire
(I’m running well today)
I ignore time passing, but it does, I know
(The minutes tick off on my runner’s watch)
and each footstep brings me closer to my destination
(Ground covered over time, that’s what running is)
one I hope I will know when I reach it
(I’d like to do five miles but maybe I can go further today)

Quest 2

I set off on my journey
knowing that many others had traveled this path.
My steps were uncertain
but soon I found a rhythm
and the road began to follow me.
The sunlight slanted through the trees
streaks lighting the stream
the road high above it
curving through shadows
and back into full sun
long full sweeps with only a hint
of what lies ahead.
Others move along this same path
at their own paces. I do the same.
I am not conscious of fatigue and my legs do not tire
I ignore time passing, but it does, I know
and each footstep brings me closer to my destination
one I hope I will know when I reach it

Quest 3

I plan to run five miles along a trail in the park
The trail is set in the former commuter train roadbed.
I was stiff in my joints
I warmed up
Now I’ve run about a mile.
it’s about eight-thirty in the morning
a wide but shallow creek runs along the path.
There is a steep drop-off to my right
some of these trees cluster pretty thickly along here
it can get hot on a summer day, but it’s pleasant today.
The long-gone trains required gradual turns
it’s not necessary to see to the end, just to go.
People walk, ride bikes, run, or stand and watch birds
I wave at everyone I see and recognize a lot of regulars.
I’m running well today
The minutes tick off on my runner’s watch
Ground covered over time, that’s what running is
I’d like to do five miles but maybe I can go further today

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