Monday, June 2, 2014

Earthgirl's Knees

We were two miles up the trail to Signal Knob yesterday when, taking photos of gorgeous mountain laurel in bloom while walking, ouch. I said, once she was able to stand, those are going to swell, we should probably turn around, but she insisted we finish the hike. The photo taken at time of the fall. Eight miles later (three of them uphill to the peak) the right knee was the size of cantaloupe, by the time we were home even larger, an hour later the size of a volleyball. Drove her to Suburban, x-rays were negative (which we figured - she wouldn't have been able to walk on it if there had been a break), but since the thing kept swelling common sense demanded she get peace of mind. Next weekend, knees and weather-permitting, Veach Gap.

Slideshow perhaps tomorrow, perhaps not. My body is remembering how to hike - for instance, on hills, walk like a fashion-model on a catwalk, pulling your steps in towards the middle instead of allowing them their natural outswing. Breath through the nose as long as possible. Don't sit at lunch, stand, stretch, eat. I dislike rock scrambles, don't have a rock-climber's balance and confidence (and this hike had four miles of rock scramble - after Earthgirl's fall). Read guide books better. In the backpack? Mark Ford, who I had never heard of until I saw this Helen Vendler review of a new Selected. Fortunately, I have access to a university library's stacks. On the speakers in the car?


Mark Ford

Using the heel
Of either hand, how I’d like to knock-
Knock-knock-knock some raw, devil-may-care
Spirit into the echoing chambers
Of the brain. Around
My cranium the churned-
Up air falls still, is hushed, save
Where the weak-eyed bat, with short
Shrill shriek
Flits by on leathern wing, tiny against the violet
Evening sky, or a scything blur
Across the twisted boughs and the white, waxy flowers
Of the frangipani trees.
Meanwhile, a blast
Of Sheltox
Dispatches another cockroach – it flips
Over twice, and its legs
Stop moving; its shiny brown shell, now beaded with poison, looks
Like a chain-smoker’s nail. Through
A drifting mist of insecticide I hover
And roam, index finger
On the trigger, until the bitter fumes fade, and my interest
In killing what Sheltox kills
Fades… Relax
O muscles, in arms, neck, eyes and face – cast
Out remorse for this and other
Fits that wrench, wrench
And squeeze, squeeze and catch
In the throat. Let no man
Squirrel away what he owns, or thinks he owns, nor, ill
At ease in his own skin, swallow fire and so
Burn inwardly. As a fly.


  1. Let no man
    Squirrel away what he owns, or thinks he owns

    I read a saying in a book of Idries Shah: "You really own only that which would be safe in a shipwreck."

    In a spiritual sense, this was Marley's warning to Scrooge in Dickens' Christmas Carol - you own your character, your karma, the consequences of your good and evil actions - those are the only things you can take with you into the next life, if any.