Mysteries

Crow— nest building

Mysteries

The robins have been singing for hours
when the crows awaken with raucous chatter
shattering the morning peace with treetop banter
leaves shake, and branches quake, a squirrel squawks back,

but the crows continue to squabble–about mundane chores,
the everyday–yet keeping watch for hawks and eagles,
daring to yell at them, too. They strut across the grass, kings
and queens, then launch with elongated wings outspread,

to look for food or treasures. Finding some or finding none,
never mind, not nevermore, they cry with knowledge of the past,
millions of years of wisdom.
Listen.

Listen to the crows. Black feathers shake as they exhort,
not a murder, but a plan. Fate, justice, the circle of time?
They know what is known. And the mysteries beyond
what we can see—what could, what might be.

For dVerse, where Ingrid has asked us to write about corvids. Most of you probably know I love crows. I was watching a crow couple at the park this morning. They were arguing in a tree, and they seemed like an old married couple. This is a first draft, written quickly.😏

Review of River Ghosts

Luanne Castle has written the most wonderful review of River Ghosts, my first collection of poetry.

I am overwhelmed–and so thrilled by this thoughtful review. Thank you so much Luanne!

Available: https://www.amazon.com/River-Ghosts-Merril-D-Smith/dp/B09WZ8F9XJ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2OOEBCQBA2YJD&keywords=merril+d.+smith&qid=1653323972&sprefix=%2Caps%2C231&sr=8-1

Still Searching

Monday Morning Musings:

“Whatever they turn out to be,
Let there be swarms of them,
Enough for immortality,
Always a star where we can warm ourselves.”
–Rebecca Elson, “Let There Always Be Light (Searching for Dark Matter)”

Foggy Morning at the River

Still Searching

After the wind roars
shedding fractious tears, the moon
hums a lullaby, settles
robins and us, while owl
arises without a sound, as

mothers hide their young,
aware of danger, always
nature gives and takes, balance
and circles, eternal
questions fly without answers, hope

Geese and Goslings

with feathers and claws
waiting to snag some morsel
of truth. Perceiving the stars,
the ghostly past echoes
so we can find light in darkness.

Just past sunrise, Delaware River at West Deptford

Early Morning Light at Red Bank Battlefield in Late May

Now there is friendship
of decades, of children grown,
of new love, births, joy, sorrow.
Understanding conveyed
with a glance, life stories re-told.

Now the air is washed
the breeze whistles in major
chords, no lonesome blues, only
azure of spring dreams, no
matter that we’re living autumn.

Flora and Fauna, Fog and Sunshine

Bats at dusk

We watch the bats soar
into violet night, flit-
flitter, zipping like a thought,
synaptic connections,
we, a piece of a larger whole. . .

and still searching.

This is a wayra sequence, except for the final two words.
I woke up not feeling well this morning, but I’m fine now. It’s been a strange week. The weather again has been crazy—fog, sunshine, thunderstorms, tornado warnings, and now after summer heat and storms, we’re back to a beautiful spring day. The world continues to move towards authoritarianism. The Republican party here is openly embracing it and actively working to end our democratic system. They’re not even trying to hide it anymore. And their supporters cheer them on. Will they still cheer, I wonder, when they’re still poor and there are no government services to help them, no rules regulating business, health, transportation. . .?

We went to a surprise birthday party, and I’m going to hope no one had COVID, as the numbers are rising again.

We started watching Night Sky, a new series on Amazon Prime. All I needed to hear was Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons, and they are excellent, of course. They play a long-time married couple with a secret—buried deep under their old shed is a portal to another world. We’ve watched 3 ½ episodes so far, and I’m intrigued to see what will happen.

A Different Oracle?

The storm
is an angry moon band,
the drumming rattles walls
and windows crack in a hurry

to reach the giant bend
of time, the middle
where weights and scales
balance

the glorious and bitter–
it’s a dance we learn
to fall, to rise again, to dream.

This is an experiment. Jane and I (and whoever else) are going to see how similar our poems turn out, using the words she generated and posted here. Also, we may get thunderstorms later.😏

Connected

Buds and blooms, Colonial Garden on a foggy morning

Connected

In a dream, you were asked to follow,
to behold the soft things in the air
and beneath the earth, the seeds, roots—
the ifs of gardens, forests, meadows,
the cycles of darkness and light calling
the ancient songs of stars
echoed by birds, whispered by bees.
You listen, hold the secret close,
this deep-time ache carried in blood and bones,
every speck connected, and you smile.

My poem from the Oracle with special ifs for Derrick. She knew it was foggy this morning, and it seemed the world was full of dreams and secret things. I took this photo today at the park. This is the garden at the entrance to the eighteenth-century Whithall House. It would have been the back of the house then, as the front faced the river.

Questions of Shadow and Light

Questions of Shadow and Light

Sun above and below, reflections and shadows on the Delaware River

In this time of shadow and light
crow flies from trees with raucous caw–
there are things I think I saw–

when the world is washed fresh and bright
the grass is showered with sparkling drops,
a rainbow orb shimmers and hops

and robins sing to dawn’s delight,
the stars are gone, the moon will set,
but now she hums, and lingers yet

the truth of sun, moon, stars invite
the ifs and whys of death and life
hereafter lived in peace or strife,

questions of time—the infinite
echoes on stardust in our blood
and bones dissolved in ancient mud.

In this time of shadow and light,
when the world is washed fresh and bright
and robins sing to dawn’s delight,
the truth of sun, moon, stars invite
questions of time—the infinite.

A Constanza for dVerse. The first line of each 3-line stanza forms a poem, which is the final stanza. You can read more about the form here.

Re-Set

Busy Bees

Re-set

This toddler-tantrum world
needs a nap—

as under a snowy coverlet
bulbs sleep until spring comes

to bloom without fuss or fight–unfathomable,
the beauty that makes us—and bees—swoon

gold-dusted, what are their dreams?
A collective vision, pollen-scented harmony in ultraviolet color?

This is a quadrille for dVerse. The prompt word is sleep.

The Blue Between

Monday Morning Musings:

The Blue Between

Morning fog, afternoon sunshine. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

The Oracle whispers watch
for the blue that comes

a taste, a tease
of cerulean between storms

Pine Street on a Rainy afternoon in Old City Philadelphia

Rainy Day Walk in Old City Philadelphia:

that arrive with thunder of boots,
the hard rain of lies, and
lightning bolts of hate.

And I am tired–
so tired–of the would-be despots
who dupe the gullible,
and the culture that declares
black and brown bodies are not
as beautiful as white, and who proclaim all women
must be controlled.

I cannot believe in their petty, jealous gods—
narrow-minded, power-hungry deities created in our image,
not the other way around. I am still waiting for the Star Trek world,
where people fight for goodness, timelines can be rewritten, and Q
is a super-being, not a spreader of wacko conspiracy theories.

Sparkling River

But—
again, the Oracle reminds me to breathe
to listen to the pre-dawn birdsong, the excited chatter of crows,
the sparkle on the river, the scent of petrichor, of honeysuckle, of bread baking
in the oven–
to notice the humming moon and the singing stars,
and that patch of blue
that comes like love—a surprise, a mystery.

Mysteries

We had some blue skies last week, but lots of cloudy days, and we walked around Philadelphia in the rain on Saturday before seeing a play. This afternoon, we may get violent thunderstorms with hail and the possibility of tornados.

We saw School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh at the Arden Theatre. It’s a play about—well, mean girls in a boarding school in Ghana in the 1980s. It covers issues of body image and colorism, in a timely, but also funny play. We streamed a very strange movie that we both liked Black Bear with Aubrey Plaza.
And we watched the first two episodes of the British series Ridley Road. It’s on Masterpiece now. It’s about a Jewish woman from Manchester who infiltrates a neo-Nazi group in the 1960s. It explores history that is not very well-known, but it is also timely (and scary to me) that people are so easily duped that they believe the anti-Semitic and racist lies and think the fascism will actually improve their lives. It sounds too much like what it is happening right now. Oh yeah, there was another mass shooting. A young white man with a hate manifesto shot people of color in and around a supermarket in Buffalo, NY.

We had a virtual Shabbat with our children and their spouses (and pets) on Friday night.

Awakened Again

Edward Burne-Jones, Sponsa de Libano (The Bride of Lebanon)

Awakened Again

Listen, see if my tongue speaks the language
you want to hear–
there’s a storm coming, you can feel it in the air–

the blossoms murmur
watch for the blue of after,
this is the secret told
in vine rustles, gentle then wild.

They love each breath,
each river bend—these birds,
these ghosts, carry song from gardens
on dawn winds, the buzz of awakened bees,
falling words
falling worlds
reborn

My message from the Oracle. There’s a lot going on in the world. Good luck to all who are marching and fighting for freedom here, in Ukraine, and throughout the world. I’ve had a busy week and a busy weekend, but I’ve just finished some work, so I will still try to catch up with reading posts over the weekend.

All the Haunted Mays: Prosery

Winslow Homer, On the Hill

All the Haunted Mays

I’m coming.

Despite my brave words, I don’t feel like a hawk. I’m a hummingbird flying backwards into the past. Remember that one perfect May Day when we forgot the war, the occupation, and our unending nightmare world? We shared a baguette that was almost edible and a semi-drinkable bottle of wine, as we pretended the safe house was ours. I wasn’t Nighthawk then either. We were simply Julia and Paul in love–or so I wanted to believe.

I can’t change the past, but I must discover the truth to live in the present. I will find you. I must find you and talk to you face-to-face. For how can I be sure? I shall see again the world on the first of May, or I’ll perish in the attempt. I refuse to be haunted by ghosts any longer. I choose the living.

This is another installment of my non-linear spy tale. Here is a link to the previous one. I’m hosting Prosery on dVerse today. The prompt line to be included within a prose piece is

“For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May”
From “May Day” by Sara Teasdale