Week 47. Distance

A while ago, you said that because I walk nearly everywhere, I have an artist’s residency in my feet. I experience distance not through mileage or time, but through the sensations in my feet and legs and back, through sunburn. And, in winter, through sound, the wearing away of my soles, trapped ice or dogshit, steep hill clumpCLUMP clumpCLUMP as I lean back to not pitch forward into the styrofoam crunch of packed snow.

Distance in Saint Paul is snaky, irrational, because the Mississippi is snaky, irrational. The hills mean that distance might never be a straight line, a road without sudden crevasse. It’s different when walking; the terrain makes me closer or further from my destination than I’d thought.

Where I’m from, distance from the river had to do with you were, who you became. And with how you spoke, the way the river trained your tongue if you were close enough to listen. Ten miles: crayfish. Five miles: crawfish. Two miles: crawdad. One mile: crawdaddy.

Medium: Ink, watercolor, Sharpie

Time away from the kids, relief and extra cups of tea and quiet. We bind ourselves together by escaping to a place with no mail or bills or laundry to fold.

Last spring we went to Red Wing, brought our bikes and rode on the Cannon Valley Trail – what was once the Chisago Great Western Railroad Line. Today, a bike path bordering rivers with people in tubes bobbing like apples in a bucket.

We marked miles by planets. A scale of 1: 600,000,000. We rode from the sun to Jupiter and broke for water. From Jupiter to Neptune and shed a layer.  Neptune to Pluto and we stopped to eat apples and cheese.

Distance from the kids and I feel them like a second skin, soft cheeks that burn red from any disturbance: running, wind, tantrums, strawberries.

I dont believe that I am a universe to the microbes on my skin, in my gut. I believe they are real as much as I believe our planet is round and orbits a sun that burns you if you fly too close. How do we fathom what is so far? The rings around Saturn not thick like airplane wings, but rock debris and water.  A wrecking ball to a moon, the moment of destruction frozen in time by the force of gravity.

Medium: Sharpie, pencil, white chalk.


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