Feast of the Immigrant

Monday Morning Musings:

When I was a teen

My grandfather used to bring

Sunday brunch

To our house.

Heralded by a cloud of cigar smoke–

That I could smell

From my attic bedroom,

He entered,

Calling out greetings

In his loud voice

And making everyone scurry

To get the food on the table.

Perhaps it wasn’t technically

A feast,


It was a ritual

Of sorts.

A Sunday brunch

With an abundance of food.

My grandfather,

My father’s father,

Had a personality

That was far bigger

Than his short,

But corpulent


My sister and I secretly called him

Harry the Hat.

There’s a photo of him

On the Atlantic City Boardwalk

With said hat

And swaggering stance.

And now that I think of it,

He always did wear a hat,

As men used to do.

I picture it on a side table

In our living room.

I imagine his scrappiness

Came from growing up

As an immigrant.

I remember him telling me

About his voyage to America.

How his ship was stalled for some time

In Trieste,

Then part of the

Austro-Hungarian Empire.

I recently discovered,

The ship was called the S.S. Gulia.

It carried him, his mother, and a sister

Across the ocean to New York

In 1904,

His father having left Kiev earlier—

Was already in Philadelphia.

And I wonder

What this voyage must have been like

For a young child–

He was only 7

His sister 4.

And for their mother.

Traveling from Kiev,

Second class citizens

In their homeland,

To Trieste,

Escaping persecution,

And then

To the United States.

And I wished I had

Asked him more.

But it’s too late.

As a young man

He sold newspapers

At the Pennsylvania Railroad Station.

He and my grandmother eloped,

And then returning to his parents’ home,

They were given a bed

That broke

A memorable wedding night,

I imagine.

Did that immigrant boy,

That young man

Ever think

That someday

He would be sitting in a dining room

In a Philadelphia suburb

With his grandchildren?

Or that he would be bringing a feast?

Who knew from Sunday brunch then?

(As my relatives might have said.)

There would be two world wars

And countless others,

Battles and fear

And fights over immigrants

And immigration


And now.

Who will be the lucky few

To be admitted?

But he was fortunate.

He lived

The American dream.

We sat amidst Old World antiques

In modern American comfort.

We were consumers,

And we consumed.


Never nova,

Cream cheese,


And the fish that we called “yum yum fish”

(What WAS it?)

A mystery lost to time.

Chewy bagels,

Good Jewish rye–

With seeds

Of course.

My mother sliced onions

And boiled new red potatoes.


The plate my mom always used for Sunday brunches, although we ignored the categories.

My then boyfriend,

Now husband,

Had never had such food.

He glanced at me,

Trying to follow my lead,

But it didn’t take him long

To love these,

To him,

Exotic dishes.

My grandfather must have been in his 70s.

He seemed very old to me then,

And my mom

Was younger than I am now.

My parents were divorced,

But still my grandfather


And my dad, too.

Family bonds

Perhaps strengthened from immigrant status.

My mom discovered only after she was married

That the people she sometimes visited with her father

Were the relatives of his first wife

Who died soon after they were married.

My mom thought they were cousins

Because she had so many

So she finally asked her mother

Who are these people?

And found she was not

Actually related to them at all.

But still–

Immigrant bonds

And immigrant food

More precisely,

Food eaten by immigrants here,

Now fashionable and expensive.

And nostalgic.

My sister decided her birthday

And a shopping trip for my mom

Was a good excuse to enjoy these delicacies

Once again.

A brilliant idea!

And so we did.

Discussing family news and memories

As we ate.

After brunch,

My husband and my sister’s wife

Stayed behind to watch football.

American football.

My mom, sisters, and younger daughter

Went to the mall.

We piled into a dressing room—

Our dressing room at that Macy’s—

And the saleswoman grumbled that we

Weren’t supposed to be there,

Although there was no sign,

So we stayed.

My mother dismayed by her body

That has grown and aged

And we dressing her

And all of us laughing

Laughing so hard


Well, dressing someone is funny,

Isn’t it?


Dressing Room antics

And we lovingly teased

My mom about boyfriends

And showing cleavage,

And then we went back

To my sister’s

For dessert.


After all

Birthdays need cake.

And shopping

Is hungry work.

Recipes and Other Stuff:

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake:

I forgot to take a picture and quickly took one at my sister’s that is not very good, and so then I took one at home, which still is not good, but oh well, did I mention it’s Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake? That’s all you need to know, right?

Also, it’s made in a 9×13 pan (or whatever is similar in your part of the world) so it’s easily transportable–in case you’re taking it to your sister’s house for brunch.


I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen

BUT I changed the filling

Because sorry, Deb, but really, brown sugar and nuts were calling out to me.

Here’s the filling I used—half inside, and the remainder on top.


¾ cups firmly packed brown sugar

¾ cup chopped nuts (it might have been a bit more. I used walnuts, but it’s entirely possible there were also some pecans mixed in. The nuts at my house fraternize.)

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

1 bag bittersweet chocolate chips

The batter is thick and will fight with you as you try to spread it in the pan. But fight on, and you will be victorious!

On a related note: This past weekend, we saw the movie, Brooklyn, which is about a young Irish woman immigrant who is caught between her new life in Brooklyn and her old life in Ireland in the 1950s. My husband and I both enjoyed it very much. Also, she, the Irish immigrant, learns to eat spaghetti with her Italian-American boyfriend. So you see, there is a connection to this post!



Poetry challenge #5 Nonet: the entries


Jane Dougherty’s nonet challenge, includes my attempt, but there are some brilliant, vivid poems here. Most of the poems are about war and remembrance.

Originally posted on Jane Dougherty Writes:

The challenge running through last week was on the theme of war and remembrance. Who could have known that there would have been another layer of horror to add to the unbearably monstrous pile we’ve already accumulated in our role as most intelligent, civilized and advanced species on the planet?

There was, as usual, a wealth of poetry inspired by this most emotive theme. Here are the nonets.

First was Ben Naga—couldn’t agree more.


No more rage, no more hate, no more war
No more rage, no more hate, no more
No more rage, no more hate, no
No more rage, no more hate
No more rage, no more
No more rage, no
No more rage
No more



Next, Peter Bouchier’s poem,


your way
towards peace
so that you may
bloom like a poppy
the battlefield is wide
there is room…

View original 596 more words

Still Life

Monday Morning Musings:

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”

–Leonard Bernstein

(For information on this quote. Go here. )

I had meant to write a different post,

One discussing food and family

Something new,

I know,

But then there was Paris

And Beirut,

And death everywhere.

It’s all I could think about.

But life goes on.

And there was art.

A still life by my mom.

A still life by my mom.

My husband and I went to the museum

To see an exhibition on American still life,

And when I said “still life”

To myself

There was the epiphany.

(From the Greek,

Meaning reveal.)

Art does reveal,

Of course.

But it was the words–

Still AND life

That’s what hit me.

Despite the attempts

By terrorists

To massacre

Not only people,

But to destroy

Art, music, culture,

The history, beauty, and wisdom

Of the ages

They have not won.

There is



Still life the art form

Displays what people value

Or want to present to the world

It can be a reflection of the ordinary

Or the sublime.

Often both.

Raphaelle Peale’s blackberries

Looked so luscious

I wanted to pluck them from the canvas.

A little girl ran to a Calder mobile,

A water lily,

In delight.

The guard and I smiled at each other.

“It is wonderful to see so many children here,”

I said.

And she agreed.

The next generation

Seeing beauty and creativity,

And all sorts of people were there.

A French-speaking family stood

Behind me.

A woman with gray hair

And a ready smile

In a wheelchair

Moved around the exhibition room

As though her chair was a chariot.

A tall man in a blue sweater stooped

To read a label

Supported by his cane.

From American still life,

Audubon’s birds

“Are they dead?”

The girl asked her mother

To Warhol’s Brillo Pads

We traveled to another gallery.

Rubens’ “Prometheus Bound,”

Bound again

And again

For bringing the fire of creativity to humankind.

He suffered perpetual torture

Until freed by Hercules.

His position mirroring

Michelangelo’s risen Christ.

Wrath of the gods

And resurrection.

The triumph of human spirit

And imagination

Rendered over and over.

Humans suffer for art

And for that creative spark.

And art suffers from human destructiveness.

We saw paintings

Retrieved by

The Monuments Men.

Paintings stolen

In another war.

Evil and good,

History and art,

Gods and men.

In another room

A Buddhist monk in saffron robe and black sandals

Admired Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,”

Another still life

By a tortured soul.

But still,


We had seen a play the day before.


That was the title,

Not what we did,

At least not then,

Because after all,

Haven’t we all


The play was about Shakespeare,

And history,

And truth

And lies

And theater.

In other words,


The creation of truth

Or legends.

And don’t forget the witches.

Richard III and his hump,

A creation of the playwright,

And Agincourt,

The legend immortalized,

But after all,

The St. Crispin’s Day speech

Is grand and glorious,

We happy few

Going into battle.

Still life

A tableau

A freeze frame

Of a particular moment

In time

On stage,

But in our minds, too,

As we recall

“Where were you when it happened?”

Everyone remembers.

I was in second grade when JFK

Was assassinated.

I was on my way to the gym

When the first plane struck the twin towers.

Moments observed

And never forgotten.

We went to the movies,

My husband and I,


The name of the movie,

A noun and a verb.

A moment revealed

And highlighted.

The power of the press

Uncovering a cover-up

Exposing what had been buried

With the help of many

In the church and government.

What is the opposite

Of wrath of the gods?

The triumph of the human spirit?


Not equivocation.


And photos

Colored in red, blue, and white

In solidarity


The human impulse

To do something

In the face of evil

And who says it does no good?

As we are reminded

Time and time again

One person can bring about


Gandhi said,

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”



In the horror

Of Paris,


The abuse of children,

The censorship of ideas,

The destruction of art,

We mourn,


We go about life

Without equivocation

Without hesitation

Revealing truth




Not stilled.





More intensely,

More beautifully,

More devotedly

Than ever


My mom with one of her still life paintings at an exhibit.

My mom with one of her still life paintings at an exhibit.

Further Information:

Audubon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life

The Wrath of the Gods: Masterpieces by Rubens, Michelangelo, and Titian

Equivocation at the Arden Theatre. You can read more about the play here.

Spotlight the film

The Water is Wide, but It Connects Us All

Monday Morning Musings:

“The water understands

Civilization well”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Water”

There’s a spin instructor

At my gym.

She sometimes lifts her water bottle

And says, “community drink.”

When she says that

I picture a group of people

In a smoky old tavern

Passing around a mug of ale.

History brain.

And as soon as I think “history brain,”

Referring to myself

You understand,

I begin to ponder drinking in

Revolutionary Era America.

At the City Tavern

In Philadelphia

The bill for “55 Gentlemans Dinner & Fruit”

In September 1787

Went mainly for alcohol.

Madera, Claret, Porter, and Beer,

And don’t forget the “7 Large Bowels of Punch.”*

George Washington

Had a distillery at Mount Vernon,

The largest one in North America

At that time.

His hogs were fed the slops.

No waste on the farm.

Perhaps his neighbors

Drank to his health

With the whiskey

They bought from him.

Eighteenth-century toasting

At the table could be an ordeal.

With each guest toasting the health

Of everyone there

And on

And on

Till they could toast no more.

But perhaps it was better

Than drinking water in the city.

Dr. Benjamin Rush once

Lauded the murky water

Of an urban well,

Saying that its mineral waters

Could cure a host of conditions

From flatulence to rheumatism.

But it turned out its peculiar scent and taste

Was due to its connection to a privy.


I guess the doctor is not always right.

Well, well.

There’s a scene in A Town Like Alice

Where an Englishwoman

Returns to a village

In Malaya,

A place where she lived and toiled

During the war

After the Japanese took control

And force-marched her with

Other women and children

Over hundreds of miles.

She had money after the war,

An inheritance,

I think,

And so she goes back

To ask the headman of the village

To let the women have a well.

A small thing

But huge to them.

The scene has stayed in my mind

After all these years.

And I think about how in many parts of the world

Women and children are at risk every day

Because they must fetch the water used for



And washing

From miles away.

They can be assaulted

Or kidnapped

Or killed.

And women in some places

Do not have sanitary facilities

During their monthly periods

And so they cannot go to school

Or to work.


Those of us who have it

Take for granted that we can turn on a spigot

And there it will be.

And I just realized we haven’t seen

The Walking Dead survivors boiling water

To drink

Not that I remember anyway,

I could be wrong.

But then I guess if you’re already

Infected with a zombie virus

It doesn’t matter much

About the water.

Water from faucets,

Wells, springs, and rivers,

The Amazon,

The Nile,

The Thames,

The Tiber,

The Ganges,

And the Delaware

That flows not far

From my door.

The Delaware River from Red Bank Battlefield

The Delaware River from Red Bank Battlefield

All giving rise to cities

And civilizations.

And the oceans–

The magnificence of whales

Killed to supply people with

Oil for lights and corset stays.

The tides call to them

And to us.

I think about my four-year-old daughter

Twirling and jumping on the beach,

Sheer delight at seeing the ocean

For the first time.

Then the day both girls

Were terrified by a storm

That arose suddenly

On that same beach

As if Poseidon himself

Had awakened–

But was not very happy.

Nothing like a grouchy god.

Air and water blended

Into a mist,

The sand whipped us

In tiny, stinging pellets

As the wind howled

And the waves crashed.

And then just as quickly,

All was once again calm.


And life.

Playful otters

Who cavort in rivers

And salmon that swim upstream

To spawn.

Fanciful beings who

Live between water and land,



The Lady of the Lake,

And Nessie, too.

We build bridges over troubled waters.

And we sing in the rain.

We paint water lilies

And glance at reflections,


And ripples

Time passing

On the water.

I'm fascinated by reflections on the water. Knight Park

I’m fascinated by reflections on the water.
Knight Park


We humans spend nine months

In a fluid-filled sac,

Emerging from the womb

To gasp, breathe,

And let out that first cry


“I am here.”

Like our ancestors

Who surfaced from the sea

To build a life on land.

But still,

The water calls.

Spinning thoughts

As I pedal

And the wheels turn.



Though the water is wide.

Raise your glass.




* “Entertainment of George Washington at City Tavern, Philadelphia, September 1787


Merril D. Smith, The World of the American Revolution: A Daily Life Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2015).

A Town Like Alice (miniseries 1981 with Helen Morse, Bryan Brown, and Gordon Jackson) based on Nevil Shute’s 1950 novel.

There are so many versions of the folk song, “The Water is Wide.” Here is James Taylor singing it.


Look Around You

Monday Morning Musings:

I saw a van

With the name “Otis”

Neatly labeled on its side.

I thought of elevators.

Of course,

Who wouldn’t?

When our daughters were young,

They noticed the elevators

At my mother’s apartment house

Were made by Otis.

The elevators at my father’s

Were made by another company.

How often do adults observe

Such things?

To us,

The elevators

Were merely useful technology.

To them,

The elevators were different and

Distinct personalities

Leading to new worlds

And adventures.

So many things adults

Never notice

Or pass by

Because they’re commonplace.

I used to sit on the floor

When my children were young,

To glimpse things from their angle,

To anticipate what might be appealing

Or interesting

To their young minds.

Curiosity must be in our genes,

I mean all Earth’s creatures.

Who hasn’t seen an animal explore

What is in that box, bag,

Or hole in the ground?

But humans want to go further.

My husband and I went to the movies.

No, that’s not so far,

But we saw The Martian,

Matt Damon with wry comments

And prodigious feats of memory

Is in survivor mode on Mars.

The Hitchhiker’s Hike to the Galaxy

Says to always carry a towel.

But Matt Damon has potatoes.

And I think about

How ancient peoples

Learned to cultivate the

Toxic tubers.

And make them palatable.

They were grown and

Eaten by the Incas,

Then brought to Spain

By conquerors

Who saw

What they wanted to see,

Who believed they were

In a New World,

When it was merely

New to them.

But they did see potatoes,

Gold of another sort

Becoming a source of fuel for

“The Old World”

Helping to feed

Its people,

And allowing its nations to grow,

While those of the new

Were destroyed

By the conquerors,

Men and microbes.

But exchanges go both ways.

After a time,

The blight traveled, too,

To destroy potatoes in Europe,


In Ireland,

Sending more immigrants

From old world

To new.

And helping a

Young nation grow,

At a cost though,

There always is.

Matt Damon’s character

Attempts to conquer

A world that is truly


To humans, anyway.

But it’s a vast universe,

So who knows?

And I wonder about


But that’s for another time.

We learn from the movie

That a knowledge of botany

Is important.

So is being able to remember

Past studies,

And to realize

That it often

Takes many minds

To solve a problem.

The movie has fun with music, too,

And I’m reminded of real-life astronaut

Commander Chris Hadfield

Performing “Space Oddity”

Aboard the International Space Station–

One of my most favorite videos ever.

(It’s just possible I’ve watched it over and over.)

Although Capt. Jean-Luc Picard

Remains my ultimate astronaut hero.

What do you mean he’s not real?

Of course he is,

Smart and confident enough

To realize

A child,

Or an alien life form

Might see what others

Do not,

And that “exploring new worlds”

Does mean seeking out

But not conquering.

And music is important

On the Enterprise

And literature

And art

Because these are things that

Make us human.

And our creativity

Enhances our thinking

And ability to solve problems,

Which is important,

Especially if you are ever


And left for dead

On an uninhabited planet,

Or anywhere else

For that matter.

I think the lesson,

If there is a lesson

To life,

Is never to stop observing,

To sometimes view things

From a child’s perspective,

And to look at things

In new ways,

And to value your friends

So they will do the utmost

To rescue you

If you are ever marooned,

And to pay attention to every

Little thing–

Because it might save you some day–

And of course,

To bring


And perhaps a towel.


“Look at the moon, will you! Tsk-tsk-tsk. Potato weather for sure.”

–Thorton Wilde, Our Town

“It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.”

–Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Chris Hadfield sings David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the International Space Station. Well worth watching.

This Smithsonian Magazine article gives a brief history of the potato.


Monday Morning Musings:

“Do you remember when I was in your belly,

And I hiccupped,

And that made you laugh?”

My daughter was about three at the time

When she asked me this.

She was in the backseat of the car.

We were listening to The Sound of Music,

“Sixteen Going on Seventeen”

I think,

Because she thought Rolf was funny

In the movie—

That’s before he becomes a Nazi,

If you’re keeping track.

I was startled by the question

She so casually threw out to me

And soon forgot.

Could she have actually remembered

A time before she was born?

Another day

My older daughter and I sat at the breakfast table

And discovered we had had the same dream

The night before.

How is this possible?

I don’t have a clue.

And the dream itself is long gone,

Vanished into that gray mist

Of long lost thoughts.

I think it involved a flute,

But I could be wrong.

I should have written it down,

But I was not in the habit of recording things then.

I think of a young girl who

Decades ago now,

Recorded the her daily life

Living in a Secret Annex

With eight other people

For two years

Until they were discovered.

Despite the world crashing

Around her

She believed people were

Basically kind.

Only her father lived

Through the horror though.

But her words remain.

Ghosts of a sort,

They conjure up the past

And people who exist now

Only in black and white images

And in her vivid descriptions.

I think about an episode of The Twilight Zone*—

A former S.S. Captain revisits


He is driven insane by the ghosts of the inmates

He tormented.

They try him for crimes against humanity.

I think of horrors and war crimes that still go on.

I wonder if the tormentors are ever tormented

By ghosts

And if they live in their own Twilight Zone hell.

I hope they do.

Is that wrong?

I read in the newspaper that Philadelphia

Is planning to celebrate a day of kindness.

Surely, that should be every day,

But still

It is something.

Perhaps a truce for a day is better

Than nothing

Like the Christmas peace in the trenches

During WWI.

Ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.

Did you know there was a spiritualism craze

In the nineteenth-century?

And séances in the White House?

Humans trying to make sense

Of the unknown.

I sometimes enjoy the tingle

Of reading fictional tales of haunted houses

And spectral beings who bump and thump

In the night.

But real life horror is different.

And scarier.

There are ghosts that I feel duty-bound

To remember.

To honor.

To try to make sense of.

There are many types of ghosts though.

Not only the tormented souls

Stuck in time and space

Unable to move


Or to find peace.

There are ghosts of our own pasts, too.

Happy ghosts.

Some live as memories

In our hearts and minds

They bring us comfort,

Make us smile,

And they make me wonder.

*”Deaths-Head Revisited”(Season 3, Episode 9, written by Rod Serling, originally aired, November 10, 1961.)

Walktober: Valley Green Inn and Forbidden Drive

This post is in response to Robin of breezes at dawn. Check out her blog. She writes about her world along the Eastern Shore and her Wabi-Sabi Ranch, and her blog also includes amazingly beautiful photos.

For the past few years we’ve visited the Valley Green Inn during the summer for my mom’s birthday. My husband and I decided to have lunch there this week on a beautiful autumn day, and then take a long walk down Forbidden Drive, along the Wissahickon Creek.


The bridge was closed,

So we hiked down from the upper lot,

Taking the “scenic route” to the restaurant

Because I have no sense of direction.

Something you should know about me.

Hmmm. . .is this the right way?

Hmmm. . .is this the right way?

But it didn’t matter,

We were not in a hurry at all.

We were taking the day off.

We sat by the window

In that dining room

That always smells of wood smoke

From the fireplace at the end.

Lunch was delicious,

A portabella mushroom sandwich for me

With homemade sweet potato chips,

And an open-face Reuben for him

With house cut French fries

Two cups of coffee each,

And then we were set to go.

I had brought a coat

Thinking it might be chilly,

But the weather was beautiful

And perfect for walking.

I wandered down to the water.

Sun and shadows played a chasing game there.


We strolled down the path.


The air smelled fresh and woody—

Not the dry crispness of winter

And not the swampy scent of summer either,


Something in between.

The day was bright and clear.

A chipmunk scampered away

Before I could get a picture.

He chirped loudly at us from

Beneath his leafy cover.

Amidst the roots.

We saw an older man walking his dog,

They looked like long-time companions,

Both a little gray and grizzled,

But still enjoying their time together.

A bare-chested man in red shorts ran determinedly

From the opposite direction.

An impressively fit mother

Jogged while pushing her babies

In one of those special strollers

Made for runners with children,

Exercise and childcare combined.

Another woman ambled down the path

While talking on her phone.

Couples meandered with their dogs.

There were a few bikers, too,

But no horses today,

And a childhood memory

Stirred in my mind—

Walking in the woods

With my grandfather and little sister.

He pulled us to the side of a path

As riders on horseback

Come thundering by.

It was thrilling

And a bit scary.

Like ghosts from the past,

And then I remember my brother

Telling me about the Headless Horseman,

A Revolutionary Era soldier

Who supposedly roamed the woods.

But all is peaceful here today,

The ghosts are only in my mind.

We continued our wandering.

We hiked down stone steps


To the water.

I noticed a tree that

Looked like a skeleton to me.

We saw many trees that had fallen

Or stood at an angle.


What tales those trees could tell!

Sunlight highlighted a pop of red

Against the gold and still-green branches

And reflected in the water below.


Birds sang.

“It’s so beautiful,”

I said to my husband.

“Thank you for this day.”

And on the way home in the car

Well, actually to the movies

Because we didn’t want the day

To end,

We listened to Fresh Air,

Terry Gross interviewing

Two bird experts.

There’s a type of bird that can

Mimic almost any sound.

I wondered–

What if there was a bird

There in the woods

Who repeated my words?

What if he flew all over the earth


“It’s so beautiful. Thank you for this day.”


Thoughts on walking along Forbidden Drive

Walktober 2015

Reflections in Time and Space

Monday Morning Musings:

“It is just inevitable. The soul wanders in the dark, until it finds love. And so, wherever our love goes, there we find our soul.”

–Mary Zimmerman, Metamorphoses

And so, once again we’re in the ancient world.

This time, it’s Metamorphoses.

Another theater in Philadelphia,

A rippling pool




And Eurydice

The power of myths,



And love.

The power of words

And art

Legends told and retold

For thousands of years


Who appear powerless

Are not

As long as they’re known.

They still influence us

Through the retelling

Of their tales.

For ninety minutes or so

We’re lost

In the magic of theater.

Carried along on a journey

By the actors

Whose words and movements

In and around that pool

Remind us of the strength of

Long ago myths

And their connection

To us now.

A special treat for subscribers.

A special treat for subscribers.

The next day,

Across the river

And closer to home

We’re watching theater

Of another sort,

Revolutionary War Era soldiers.

It’s a reenactment,

Of course.

The day is brisk,

The leaves starting to turn

Red and gold.

A cannon booms,

A squirrel scurries up a tree

The child in front of me says

“The sound makes my chest hurt.”

But old bones

Shards of vessels

Long shattered

And old cannonballs

Lay in the ground beneath

Our feet

To remind us of lives


The bits and pieces tell a tale.

The past buried

And unearthed.

Perhaps ghosts

Still wander here.


An hour later

We’re on to a wine festival.

My husband, daughter, and I.

Nectar of the gods.

We taste

And enjoy.

In truth,

We’re a bit buzzed

By the end.

But in vino veritas.

And though the stories

Of women,

The poor,

The servants,

And slaves

Are often forgotten

And left untold

I’m sworn to tell them.

But perhaps not just yet

After all

The wine.

Celebrating with Dionysus,

Clio will have to wait.


Across space and time

My mind wanders

Seeking a connecting thread.

From ancient Greeks

To the Quaker woman,

Centuries later who

Nursed the soldiers

Wounded in battle

At her farm.

She was a pacifist.

I imagine her criticizing voice

Grumbling at the soldiers

On both sides of the conflict.

“Is this the way to serve God?

The farmland destroyed

And young men killed,


And scarred.

And yet she tries to heal

Their bodies

Though their souls may

Be lost.

The cruel irony

Of war.

I stand in her garden.

Her house still there

Overlooking the river.

Her secrets long buried

Like the detritus of war

And household scraps.

All who truly

Knew her

Gone, too.

My words now

Scattered into the world

By way of devices

She could not imagine.

Perhaps in hundreds of years

Someone will read them

With some newer device.

Perhaps that person will wonder

About me,

A woman long dead,

Who thought about myths

And the power of love

Who enjoyed wine

And wrote about

Ordinary people

Who though no longer alive

Lived on

In her mind

Like reflections in a mirror

That stretch on

In a never ending line

Through time

And space.

Rippling figures


And myths

Connecting past

And future.


Smoke and illusions-- British soldiers at Red Bank Battlefield

Smoke and illusions–
British soldiers
at Red Bank Battlefield

Here are the places we visited this weekend.

And not to worry, son-in-law was our designated driver to and from the wine festival.

Arden Theatre

Red Bank Battlefield

Autumn Wine Festival at Riverwinds

Autumnal Tragedy and Comedy

Monday Morning Musings

“Numberless are the world’s wonders, but none

More wonderful than man. . .

Words also, and thought as rapid as air,

He fashions to his good use. . .

Oh fate of man, working both good and evil!”

–Sophocles, Antigone

The play was Antigone,

A play over two thousand years old.

The chorus entered,

Stark and bleak,

Mouths open in mask-like images of tragedy

And horror

Resembling the figure of Munch’s The Scream.

Greek and English

What are we watching?

I’m not certain.

Afterward, we walk,

My husband and I.

It is a beautiful October day.

Far from that tragedy

In time

And space

Far from Thebes

Or Ankara,

For that matter.

We stroll through the city streets

Through “the Gayborhood.”

The 25th annual “Outfest”

Is taking place.

Men holding hands,

Women holding hands,

Men and women holding hands.

Love is love.



People dancing in the closed off streets.

We just miss a hula hoop competition.

We walk some more,

To a wine café,

Wine for me,

Beer for him,

Cheese to share,

And coffee after.

We discuss the play.

The spitting and the drool

From the actors’ mouths.

“Well, it was visceral,” I say.

“That’s not exactly the word I was going to use,” he said.

“More like gross and disgusting.”

I have to agree.

But I also have to admit the power of live performance—

Because I can’t stop thinking about it.

A play thousands of years old.

How many times has it been performed?

Humans have new ways of killing now.

And new tragedies occur daily.

Families torn apart

By violence.

Women raped.

Children dead.

Human tragedy

Human comedy

We create beauty and destruction.

And please and appease the gods.

Art reflecting life

And life imitating art.

But here and now

It is a beautiful October day.

There are rainbows.

There is love.

We see fans ecstatic about the football game.

There are some happy endings, too.

Walking through the streets of a modern city

Reflecting on life in one long ago.