When Shadows Scream

Peder Severin Krøyer [Public domain] “Summer Evening at Skagen beach, the artist and his wife”

If beneath the blue and honeyed light,
we dream of love, and watch
milk-lather waves in tumbling play,

then we can recall those dreams
when shadows scream
and mind-aches sway

our thoughts—
there’s evil about
and cold winds blow, my love,

but there! They sweep the sky
of storms, and blanketed against the air,
we wait for sun-dazzled caramel rays

to cast aside the haunted winter-breath
and with summer-warmth overlay.

The Oracle kept giving me “shadow,” today, and it made me think of the Lady of Shallott,
“I am half sick of shadows,” said
The Lady of Shalott.”
And aren’t we all?

“I am half sick of shadows,” said
The Lady of Shalott.” John William Waterhouse

The Time Before: Prosery

It’s difficult now to remember the time before. Before war, before I knew the evil that humans can inflict–when my worries consisted merely of studying and passing exams. I was determined to prove that I was as brilliant as any man, smarter, in fact. But that day, the dandelion sun glowed, white seed clouds drifted in the azure sky, and reflections floated languidly on the river. Laura begged me to join the rest of the group for a picnic, and I’d agreed, even as she threatened me with the admonition, “and bring no book, for this one day, we’ll give to idleness.” How young and carefree we were, lolling on the grass like the figures in an Impressionist painting, but all clothed. Or mostly.

Laura, Keith, John—all of them gone, victims of war. And I’m left, still searching for answers.

And revenge.

A flash fiction piece for dVerse, Monday where Ingrid asks us to use the lines:

“And bring no book, for this one day
We’ll give to idleness”
— William Wordsworth, “Lines Written at a Small Distance from my House”

My spy series doesn’t seem to follow any order, but we’ll just say this is a part of it.

I couldn’t resist adding these photos from Grounds for Sculpture that recreate Edouard Manet’s “Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe” (1863).

A Universe of Ghosts and Words

Monday Morning Musings:

“The world was filling with ghosts. We were a haunted country in a haunted world.”
–Louise Erdrich, The Sentence

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
–William Shakespeare, from Macbeth (spoken by Macbeth after Lady Macbeth’s death)

Ducks swim through sunrise clouds.

Apparitions slip
between worlds, linger like words–
the spoken and unsaid–each
waiting to be seen, heard,
read and remembered, infinite

combinations, in
every language, past, future
meld in the timeless sea where
yesterday’s twinkling light
haunts and comforts. Does tomorrow

on the horizon
give a straight-lined smile? Or false
the glimmer of hope? Sound and
fury—nothing or all?
Candles burn bright, yet mimic stars.

The light comes again
reverberations, colored
by space-time meandering
carrying messages
in microscopic dust missives.

Early Morning Reflections
Evening Snowfall

Now, winter’s blanket
lays etched with sharp lettering–
yet beneath, cursive tendrils
wait to write new stories
spirits and words hover, beckon

with endless stories,
whole books, unfinished chapters
brief verses, epic sagas,
chronicles and reports.
The universe shouts and whispers.

Sunrise!

I decided to try a wayra again. It forces me to think and choose words in a different way.

We’re bouncing from very cold to warm for January to cold. We had snow last night, but it’s been washed away by the rain, and there’s a wind advisory for later in the day into tomorrow.

It’s soup and blanket weather. I made clam chowder (without bacon) last night, and vegetarian onion soup earlier in the week, served with oven french fries.

Merril’s Movie, Books, TV. . .

I couldn’t quite stay up to finish Louise Erdrich’s new novel, The Sentence, last night, but it’s wonderful—words and books, tribal lore, ghosts, and social commentary.

We watched A Perfect Ending (Amazon Prime), a psychological thriller with Polish actor Tomasz Kot as an architect delayed by a young woman in an airport. It definitely kept me interested till the end. And since I forgot to cancel Apple TV, we also watched The Tragedy of Macbeth, a new adaptation by Joel Coen. Purists may not like the streamlined version, but it’s excellent, filmed in a stark black and white where shadows loom and the Weird Women become birds. The supernatural elements of the play really come through in this version. Denzel Washington plays Macbeth and Frances McDormand is Lady Macbeth. She’s so good.

The book and movies share connections of ghosts, regrets, deaths/murders, and memory.

We’ll be watching the finale of Yellow Jackets tonight, a show that I’ve really enjoyed. (I wasn’t sure I would from the opening scenes.) And I suppose there’s a connection here, too.

Listen, Recall

Odilon Redon, Orpheus

In early morning hush,
the moon sings farewell,
gelid murmured notes
through white cat-paw clouds

if you listen, recall
light recalls time recalls light,
the ancient ships of night seas
ask when
ask what
you want
from the whispers and pulses
of mother music from earth and sky,

the fiddle, flute, and drums of
wind-beats and tree rustle,
the cardinal chirps and crow caws,
black on red on blue and green, every color
a promise, a warning
of what is and what was.

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.

Ingrid at Experiments in Fiction is hosting a Global Assembly on Climate Change. Read more about it here.

Colors of Time

Monday Morning Musings:

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment.

A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors.”
–Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Another Tree Spirit

Follow the shadows
through dreams colored with deep-time
longing. The seeds nested, specks
of hope, driven by time—
unleashed cycles, harmonic notes

star-born melodies
heard without, but held within
blood, skin, and organs—dust of
ancient incandescence
infinite shades of light from yesterday

merge with tomorrow
harmony and dissonance,
my parents speak in dream-time
enrooted in my mind
and heart, we are united

as midnight blue shifts
to violet, then golden
blaze, an ageless song of light
captured, remembered as
it passes, every color

in time, of time, time-
charged, time-changed by shifts of chance,
a crash, a brief encounter,
a prism of color
light reborn, transformed, transcendent.

The rising sun captured in a bottle.


I didn’t go anywhere this week or do anything special, but the changing temperatures and weather have made for some incredible skies. Influenced by Jane Dougherty, I decided to try a wayra chain today for my musings.

Merril’s Movie/TV/Book Club:

We saw The Hand of God (Netflix), Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s autobiographical coming-of-age movie. The movie is set in Naples and full of quirky characters, as well as some surreal images, combining warmth, fate, tragedy—and soccer—in a poignant cinematic memoir.

We watched Anxious People (Netflix), a Swedish series written by Fredrik Bachman based on his novel. (He also wrote A Man Called Ove.) This limited series of 6 short, bingeable episodes (we watched it in two nights) is quirky, but heartwarming. My husband and I both enjoyed how the story was revealed over time. You would see something like a man’s bandaged nose, but not find out how it happened until another episode. The story concerns a failed bank robbery/hostage situation with a father-son pair of police officers who are not used to dealing with such crimes. It’s more Nordic charm than Nordic noir.

I read Lauren Groff’s Matrix, a novel based on the twelfth-century Marie de France. Little is known about her, so Groff is free to invent her life, which she does, in this beautifully written book.

Waiting

Waiting

Odilon Redon, The Muse on Pegasus

On a long wander, cold-breathed,
I think every spring’s a poet born
as from rain a rose—
yet, if we recall the red petals’ fall

in sun turns and moon cycles,
and after dusk’s berry-glow and bird-light flickers,
the deep song of ancient souls
carried on wind-fiddles–

now wait for light whispers
and the caramel breath of dawn,
a honeyed smile that lingers on treetops
and beneath, the lichen rocks
and moss blankets,

seeds rest,
knowing when to bloom.

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. It’s cold here today.

In Paris and Beyond

In Paris, we walked–through Montmartre, perhaps–
where people carried baguettes under their arms,
like my mother’s purse. Look, my parents said,
there, the Seine, the Mona Lisa, the Eiffel Tower—

and they glanced through guidebooks and at maps
for lost love, and Paris’s hidden charms
rekindled their passion for only a moment instead.
As the bells tolled the new year, the passing hours

my older sister read, and fed us scraps–
the story of the Danish prince; no harm
in telling this story of ghosts, the dead
return, my mom still sits amongst the flowers.

For dVerse, an attempt at Rimas Dissolutas.

We Celebrate: Haibun

Foggy New Year

New Year’s Eve Day is foggy and warm. My husband and I eat Chinese food for dinner, our decades-old tradition. We drink champagne while we talk to our children and their spouses on Zoom. Our son-in-law’s parents join us, and it’s good to see them, too, after so long. We light the Shabbos candles and speak of what we’re grateful for—that we’re together, healthy, and that our pets are with us, too. This is what we celebrate—life going on, light in the darkness. Later, we say goodbye to 2021. Though 2022 seems scarcely better, who know what the future brings? The sun and moon still rise and set.
And there is champagne.

fog-obscured
river a mystery—
beckoning

For dVerse. Earlier today, I couldn’t get WP to work, and now there’s no problem. Oh, there are definitely WP gremlins!

First Snow

Monday Morning Musings:

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
--Leonard Cohen, Anthem

Of spring weather with the sun low in the winter sky
It’s off-kilter, my friend remarks. Disconcerting, I say.
Like this upside-down world of lies embraced, why
I don’t know. Strength in ignorance persuades—
the authoritarian’s way.

****
Now first snow before daylight,
perfect white as dawn kisses night
the pristine blanket yet untouched--
unanswered questions, many and so much

hate and love. Fingers curled within a glove,
hands balled into fist. This is mine, some insist,
with mired minds and clouded brains—
perfect offerings, rotted remains

in nature cycles, vulture-fed, cycles birth, the dead
live within 
our hearts 
the bells we still can ring

sounding louder in the fog
we can’t know what the future brings,
it flows, a river carrying us and everything
and birds sing,


Bright glow in the fog
Afternoon light over the Delaware River
Bagpiper at Red Bank Battlefield
sensing the light
reflections of past, the infinite,
the now—
first snow, first light
for a moment, all is right,

ring in the new year
built on hope, wet with tears,
ring the cracked bell, toll with cheer,
the circling of our earth, and we are still here.


WordPress seems to be up to more tricks. It won’t let me copy and paste the way I usually do it. UGH!

We’ve had strangely warm weather here, along with fog and rain. This morning we’re getting snow. I’ve taken some poetic license, as it doesn’t seem to be snowing anymore, and it’s not really covering the ground. Meanwhile, COVID is still raging, and the deniers are still denying. This Thursday, January 6 will be the one-year anniversary of the attempted overthrow of the US government. Some people deny that, too, despite all the evidence, which I find truly terrifying. The celebration of ignorance, and the insistence on sharing and spreading lies is appalling.

Stepping down from my soapbox. We celebrated New Year’s Eve with Chinese food, as we’ve done for decades. Then, we had a family Zoom session, while we drank champagne. On New Year’s Day, we ate Cinnabons—another tradition.

I enjoyed a few days of not doing much, and I’m not looking forward to getting back to work today. 

We watched four new movies:
Don’t Look Up (Netflix)
The Lost Daughter (Netflix)
The Last Duel (Amazon Prime, rental)
Who You Think I Am (Amazon Prime)

My husband and I liked all of them, and they all have great acting, but we both thought The Lost Daughter was our overall “best picture” of the group. I think Olivia Coleman and Jessie Buckley are always excellent, and Jodie Comer, in the last duel, is also wonderful. 

Oh, it’s snowing again!