We Ask Why

Marc Chagall, Le Violiniste Bleu (The Blue Fiddler)

What if time sails like a ship—
sometimes still, sometimes striking rocks—
We recall the honeyed glow of before, watch shadows
born in moon-whispers grow–as after,
we sleep to the fiddler’s song, blue notes sprayed
into the night sky. The moon hums dreams of mother-love,
a thousand girls and boys smile. We ask why–
but there is this.

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. She’s in a reflective mood.

Looking for Clues

One step forward, round and round,
the labyrinth circles. Go? Or stay
in the in-between? Are answers found
when past finds future? Which is the way?

The labyrinth circles—go or stay?
I’m a shadow figure lost in blues,
when past finds future. Which is the way?
Where should I go? Where are the clues?

I’m a shadow figure lost in blues,
within my mind-forest, I search in dreams–
where should I go? Where are the clues–
nothing here is as it seems—

in the in-between. Are answers found
within my mind-forest? I search in dreams–
but nothing here is as it seems–
just one step forward, round and round.

I’ve revised this pantoum originally written in April for Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge inspired by the above artwork by Kerfe Roig and Jane Cornwell. I’m linking this post to dVerse Open Link Night. Live today!

I’ve done a recording, too.

Do We Ever? Prosery

Do we ever truly get over such events? War, death, destruction—the thousands of ways humans hurt each other and the Earth? As Nighthawk I had to be cool and calm. It wasn’t only my life at risk, but the lives of many others, too. I had to be calm when the man with shiny black boots and a cruel face entered the restaurant. I had to keep my face blank when the officious manager met with him, and then declared, “So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm.”
Calmly, I smiled at our oppressors, poured drinks, and served food while residents starved. Calmly, I plotted to destroy them–until the night you didn’t show up.

I still have nightmares.

Prosery for Ingrid’s prompt at dVerse, using the line “So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm” from William Blake’s The Chimney Sweeper. This is a continuation of my non-linear spy tale.

At the Start of the Moment

Monday Morning Musings

“You are here, at the start of a moment,
On the edge of the world.
Where the river meets the sea.”
—“Welcome to the Rock,” from Come From Away

I am here, by the river
the sky is blue—or grey—
cloudy or clear, I am here
at the start of the day

Early Morning on the Delaware River, September.

watching the birds,
remembering the shadows
need the light, and thoughts
need words, to tell how time goes

Geese on the Delaware

Orange sun through the trees–Light and Shadows.

slow, then faster, people gone
before you know to say good-bye.
All the stories left untold,
and new ones born, the river sighs.

There a hawk cries,
There the sun rises, anew—
There a cat finds the light
There you find again the blue

that comes after storms and grey.
We celebrate the holidays—
you are there, and we are here
but we find some ways

to connect and remember.
We toast L’chaim, to life, with wine
and food we commemorate,
and for now, we’re fine

at the start of this moment—
and we soar into the next and the next

without a clue–what’s beyond the blue.

Goose photobombs egret’s big photo shoot.

This week started with Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah—it already seems so far away. We celebrated with our daughter and son-in-law. The next night, we had a Zoom dinner with both children and their spouses. Saturday was September 11. The sky that day was so blue, just as it was twenty years ago. In the afternoon, we went to Blue Cork Winery (where daughter now works) in Williamstown, NJ. It was a gorgeous day to sit outside. We’re going back to summer heat and humidity today.

Last night we watched Come From Away (Apple TV+). I have a couple months of Apple TV free, but Apple does not make it easy to watch on a not-smart TV. This is a filmed version of a live stage production of the musical—filmed recently in a newly opened theater before a masked audience. Although I did not feel it quite so much as when we saw it live in a theater, it is still a wonderful play based on the true events of 9/11—when 38 planes were diverted to the Newfoundland town of Gander. It is heartwarming without being treacly, and it shows people at their best. The play was also performed live on Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

If you’ve seen the show, I just found this article, and it made me happy.

Even When Time Stops, the River Flows On

Early Morning on the Delaware River, September.

In the after, there were dreams–
and lies.
We stood together–
and apart, divisions growing
as the wind asked why

~to a silent blue sky~

I gaze–but birdsong floats in a melody
of light and shadows. Here
time never stops,
as past and future merge, and an eagle soars
over my head, into tomorrow.

My poem from the Oracle. She knows everything. I took the photo this morning, and an eagle did fly right over me.

The Voyagers

Seascape by Lionel Walden, 1911

The night breathed hope, or was it wrong of me
to think the moon hummed tunes for us alone.
We left, or fled, or magic-led, to see
new worlds across the sea—we’d be unknown.
But will the stars so brightly shine beyond
world’s edge? And will the air smell sweeter there?
And to the sun, will bright-hued birds respond
in raucous song? Or must we not compare,
new worlds to old? So bold we go—somewhere.

This is for dVerse, where Laura has asked us to write a noveline, a poetic form invented by Sarah Rayburn inspired by the Spenserian sonnet. You can find more details about the form and the prompt here.
I may continue this one at another time.

Feeling Groovy

Not old enough to drink or drive—

feeling tongue-and-groovy, we think

we know romance.

Remember your purple-striped bell-bottom pants,

that vest with fringe, you’d wear at school?

My hair was long, we were lean.

I embroidered a peace sign on my jeans.

So cool.

For dVerse Quadrille where De has asked us to use the word groove. Our older child found these grainy yearbook photos of us. I’ll have to look for some better photos.

Of Clouds and Sun

Monday Morning Musings:

Sunrise, Delaware River at West Deptford ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021
Reflecting on the River after the storm, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith

Let me tell you about the clouds, the sun,
the flowers, tall and smiling, the tons
of debris left, the work that must be done.

Reaching ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Now the hawk screeches and broad-wing flies
in concentric circles, as the wind sighs
at summer leaving, but with the prize of bluest skies

Red-Tailed Hawk

September comes, and we are in-between
the muggy green and russet- gold; not yet seen
the frosted crunch, yet geese convene

debating if–or when–to leave.
But I don’t grieve summer’s end, perhaps naïve
I must believe

that it will come again.

And so, I dip my apples, and ponder time,
drink my wine, as the sun sets and moon climbs.
Another year passes, she chimes,

while the stars in constellated chorus sing,
and light scatters from white egret’s wing
in the universe’s laughter, from winter to spring.

Most of you know we had storms, tornados, and flooding in my part of the world last week. Then we got beautiful September weather. We went to Dalton Farms, where they have a sunflower festival going on. Yesterday we went to William Heritage Winery. It was rainy, but we were fine under an umbrella. Part of their weekend sales were going to help Mullica Hill homes and farms damaged in the tornados last week.

Today is Labor Day, and tonight is Rosh Hashanah. I’ve baked some challahs, and we’ll be dipping apples in honey and drinking wine tonight.

Rosh Hashanah Challahs

The Ancient Wanderer

In time’s shadow, I recall the languid summer–
light whispered of love, and if the wind called come,
the moon goddess hummed, why go?
Swim, she said, in these blue waters,
feel the blood-beat beneath your skin,
here far from the ship-crushing waves.
Wait—watch, savor
the sweet unknown.

But Death drooled, raining destruction, and
men with their blood-chants beckoned from afar.

Now in the bitter after of broken dreams, I sigh,
while the fiddler plays yet another tune–
still, the stars sing,
and dawn’s maidens toss gilded rose petals
as I wake,
remembering love’s aches, feeling my skin sun-warmed,
and tasting morning’s honeyed beauty on my tongue.

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. It’s only fitting that a poem from her would have a mythic feel.

Yesterday’s Storms

This is how the sky looked in the morning yesterday. It got very dark, then cleared some. Then the really scary round came late in the afternoon.

Yesterday, the weather map was filled with red–
storms, floods, and tornadic activity, the meteorologists said,
as north and south of us, the warnings became real wind reels–

inspiring fear with their acrobatic turns–
and here, the sky darker, we watched the TV screen,
while the heavens grew angry, and the wind yelled at trees.

Our phone alerts went off, and so did theirs–
the women on the screen—who stood, no hair in disarray,
continuing to explain, so patient and with care–I assume–

because we turned them off and left the room.
I wondered then if the basement was a womb or tomb,
as we texted family, and the lights flickered, once, then twice–

but stayed on. That was close, I thought,
and confirmed, a tornado hit nearby, but not
us. Not this time. We returned upstairs

where I made tuna sandwiches for dinner. We watched a show,
and checked on people we know—all OK.

Today, the summer heat is gone, the sky is September blue,
eagles soar over the river, and geese scatter, honking in queues,
as the world turns, the sun burns bright over the rising water.

Hanging in the basement after the tornado warning alert went off.

A quick explanation in hasty verse. Thank you for everyone who checked on me! From about 4 in the afternoon till about 7, we had tornado watches and warnings throughout the Philadelphia area. I don’t normally watch TV news or weather, but conditions were scary. There were tornado sightings north and west of Philadelphia, that moved east, and there were other bands coming from the south from Baltimore, through Delaware, and into New Jersey. Our tornado watch became a warning, but it still seemed kind of far, till it didn’t, and our alerts went off. They went off on the TV meteorologists’ phones, too. We went down to the basement with our devices for about half an hour. We did not have any damage at our house, or any I noticed in my town, except for some branches down. One tornado was close to one of the wineries we go to often. You can see a video here. It’s terrifying! I just looked it up, and we’re about 14 miles away.


There were other tornados near us, too. There has also been flooding. When I walked this morning, it looked like the Delaware had risen enough to leave debris on the sidewalk that the groundskeepers were sweeping up. However, the Schuylkill River crested this morning at 16.35 feet. It hasn’t been that high since 1869. If you don’t know Philadelphia, the Schuylkill River is the river the art museum looks out over, and it runs by 30th Street Station. The major Philadelphia highways are underwater today, and much of the city is flooded. Streams in the area have flooded, too.

Sharing with dVerse Open Link Night.