This is When

Monday Morning Musings:

Almost summer solstice. Reflections on the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. June 2021. ©️Merril D. Smith

This is when the world takes wing
in the turning of summer from our spring
when everything becomes lush and greenest green
the grass and leaves

sigh in gentle breeze and rustle in the storms
as cotton ball clouds flower to take new forms
and azure sky turns charcoal-hued
until another day spins by

Driftwood. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith,2021

another day older, children fly
out the door calling good-bye—
chicks and goslings grow so fast,
you hold the thoughts to make them last.

I saw this eastern box turtle about to crawl under the park gate. Look at her beautiful markings. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

And so, now the days grow slowly darker,
imperceptible at first, no marker
for the shadows cast, till autumn comes
and winter’s darkness cast

but in shadowed darkness the light never disappears—
despite our worries and our fears,
we make another turn round our glowing star–
do we measure it in miles or hours—the journey how far?

Seasons of love, freedom, and glory,
we celebrate each story
in the turning from spring to summer
when the world, despite everything, yet sings

in robin trill and mockingbird song
all night long, and all night long
the dreams drift from sea to shore,
where in the past our children played

and in some world, I think
perhaps still do.

Sunrise on the Delaware River

Saturday was Juneteenth. President Biden signed the law making it a federal holiday on Thursday. Fourteen Republicans voted against it. I found this post from several years ago by Henry Louis Gates on the history and relevance of Juneteenth.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. My husband Zoomed with older child as they worked on a woodworking project together. He’ll get together with younger child later this week. It was also the summer solstice, and it was a hot, but beautiful day. I got my husband this Father’s Day t-shirt to add to his collection of nerdy shirts, and we tasted two of the three red wines we still had left from my wine-tasting box. It looks like you have to click on some of the photos to see them properly.


Our anniversary is later in the week, and that’s the time of year we used to take our children to Ocean City, NJ for a summer vacation.

Moon-Mad and Dreams

Ilya Repin, “What Freedom!” Wikipedia Commons

Moon mad, what were we to do
but urge our dreams through
timeless sprays of diamonds?
The shadowed sea whispered
as if sending a song soaring

~bird-winged, delicate, but infrangible~

like love, I say,
both storms and spring rain—
there do you smell it?
Petrichor and roses, salt and rust
carried on a fiddle beat from here to hereafter.

Our wedding anniversary is coming up, and the Oracle gave me a puente for it. The first three lines are exactly what she gave me, and then we collaborated for the rest.

Rusted Traces

Photo by Glenn A. Buttkus, South Sound Minimalist Photos

Smudge the lines, then leave no trace
of words–erase the page,

till only thoughts remain
etched within the heart and mind

the rusted memories of
long-ago places, long-ago times–

you travel toward them, dreaming
of endless roads

of what might have been—

if

I apologize for being so behind on reading and commenting. I wasn’t going to participate at all this week because I have an academic history book chapter due, as well as other projects– but the poetry muse kept whispering. . . so, this is for two dVerse prompts. It’s a quadrille for Mish’s prompt using the word “smudge,” and it’s influenced by the photo above from Glenn A. Buttkus’s site “South Sound Minimalist Photos,” for Sanaa’s poetics prompt.

Green and Growing

Monday Morning Musings:

In June, my world is greening, growing
high, the sky in shades of blue and grey,
but showing a spark, a glow, some bit of light,
even on a cloudy day

before daybreak, the robin sings, brings
the pink of dawn, so bright, the sight
awakens geese and bees to hover on
some golden flowers, and in delight

the little ones scamper, goslings, rabbits, deer
hiding in the shade, wade through bushes for the blooms
of orange, yellow, red, violet, and green
growing, knowing all too soon

the colors fade,
but grandmothers with grey-haired wisdom weigh
and know how plants, pictures, stories grow
when nourished with love sway past grey, to stay

beyond June, in memory greening, growing,
like the mockingbird’s song all night and day
holding heartache into laughter flowing–and showing
a path to make everything okay.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Minari this week. We both liked this lovely, tender movie very much. It’s the story of a Korean American family trying to make their own American dream on a farm in Arkansas. The dream is really the husband’s, which causes some conflict in the marriage. Yuh-Jung Youn, who plays the grandmother, won an Oscar for her role. She plants minari, a leafy green plant often used in Korean dishes, and also creates a bond with her grandson, after a rocky start.

Thinking about the movie and seeing all the color in this growing season made me think of my mom. She didn’t know anything about planting, but she did teach my children how to see plants and how to paint them, and she loved flowers and color.

Some paintings by mom, Sylvia Schreiber.

We went to Vino and Vibes at William Heritage Winery with daughter and son-in-law, and we returned there on a Sunday for a members’ only event.

Sun-Follower

Odilon Redon, “Béatrice”

Who wants to watch the time?
The sun whispers, her hot-petaled head
sweating light. Together we soar into the beyond.
And if I ask about purple storms and darkness,
she only sings of golden rays,
and if I ask about after, she murmurs of the dawn
in rose-colored poetry, trailing a feathered sigh.
She is an ancient wanderer. I follow her through shadows
not remembering
before, only this timeless circling.

The Magnetic Poetry Oracle gave me most of the words right away today. She may have been watching the eclipse this week.

Nighthawk Again

Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942

Now what?

As Julia shook herself from those bleak memories of occupied Paris, she considered what she knew. Not much. Maybe it had been a crazy idea to return to France, but there was no paper trail—only memories to guide her.

Think. What is crucial to finding the way? Is this? “There is no beginning or end to the story—time circles,” an old woman with jade green eyes in a war-weathered face had told her. She was one of thousands of refugees streaming back into post-war Paris.

Julia sighs. What is she missing? She needs the one puzzle piece that will let her see the entire picture. And somehow Paul, and her relationship with him is the key.

If there is no beginning or end, she needs to work from the middle. She needs to become Night Hawk again.

Perhaps this one doesn’t work as flash fiction, but. . .more on my non-linear make-it-up-as-I-go spy story. This is for Prosery on dVerse, where I’m hosting today using the line: “Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.”
From Jo Harjo’s “A Map to the Next World.”

The Color of Language, the Language of Color

Monday Morning Musings:

“When a name for a color is absent from a language, it is usually blue. When a name for a color is indefinite, it is usually green. Ancient Hebrew, Welsh, Vietnamese, and, until recently, Japanese, lack a word for blue… The Icelandic word for blue and black is the same, one word that fits sea, lava, and raven.

It has been shown that the words for colors enter evolving languages in this order, nearly universally: black, white, and red, then yellow and green (in either order), with green covering blue until blue comes into itself. . .

Within every color lies a story, and stories are the binding agent of culture.”
–Ellen Meloy, quoted on Brainpickings

Sunrise over the Delaware River. West Deptford, NJ. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I celebrate color, all the hues
of dawning light to grey or blue,
the color of the sky, the gulls that flew
before the morning moon to sparkle bright–
I celebrate delight

in things we name from time and before—
the universe of letters, we’re each a book—and more–
composed of fiery stars and stellar song. And all along
from there to here and back again, there is light—
I celebrate its flight

from stars, bird-winged it soars, beating hearts
twinkling, illuminating the night, and each day
through shadows, there is a glow, a gate, a portal
through which time circles, not black or white—
I celebrate the spotlight

the lens through which I see. My faulty illusions—
still part of me. And everywhere I go, I see Crow—
who sees much more. So, while we count, label, and navigate,
some things remain unseen. But I dream and write—
I celebrate me, color, language, light.

My older child has been a fellow at the Atiq Maker Kollel for the past fifteen weeks. Yesterday they did a Zoom celebration of their art projects. You can find out more about their project here. In a discussion by one of the other participants, there was a mention of the world being created from letters and language, and even our bodies composed of language. I had read the Brainpickings article earlier in the week, which made me think of color and language, and the naming of things.


Memorial Day seems much more than a week ago, but we went to a Lobster and Chardonnay event at a local winery that afternoon. This past weekend, we tasted some of the wine (only got through the whites) from a blind tasting box—a Mother’s Day gift from our children.


Last night we watched the Kennedy Center Honors, which we both enjoyed. The honorees were Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Dick van Dyke, Midori, and Garth Brooks. I couldn’t name a Garth Brooks song, but I even enjoyed his segment because he was so moved by the performers. Because of Covid restrictions, the TV program combined clips of filmed indoor and outdoor performances instead of the usual formal theater production. Some of the dance numbers worked very well that way.

I’m linking this to dVerse, Open Link Night.

Questioning the Moon

Odilon Redon, Beatrice

She asks if the Moon sleeps
to dream of diamond after-light sparkling
through the storm-swept cosmos?

And if she could stop Time,
would she?
To hold with aching heart
Sun-beauty, to taste the sweetness of summer
in rose-petaled glow, and watch purple seas pound the rocks
as shadows whisper, this is for the living.

But she sees it all,
the blood rust and blood lust,
honeyed radiance, and rain falling like laughter.
She hears the laughter, she hears the tears–
her face remains impassive, but she hums, sometimes gently
sometimes fiercely—
a thousand nights, a million,
they are all the same and each one different.

Today’s poem is a collaboration with the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.

Hylas and the Nymphs, Poem in Ekphrastic Review

John William Waterhouse, “Hylas and the Nymphs” (1896)

I’m thrilled and very excited that my poem “The Way It Happened” has been published in the Ekphrastic Review as a challenge response. It responds to the most recent challenge–a painting by John William Waterhouse, “Hylas and the Nymphs.”

My thanks to editor Lorette C. Luzajic for selecting my poem. Jane Dougherty’s wonderful prose work is right after mine. You can read all the selected works here.

The Scent of Peaches

Farm Stand Peaches from Last Summer.

Beneath the blue of wayward sky,
beneath the clouds that wandered by,
like whispered words above the river floated,
just so my cries above the river floated.

Do you remember the day of peaches?
Do you remember the sway of peaches–
their fragrance sweet in the sultry air,
fuzzy-furred and opened inside pink—just there–
the way their juices dripped on our skin and hair—
leaving drops of summer shared—we didn’t care.

Under the peach sun, we laughed and loved.
Under the fruited moon, we moaned, and loved
the summer, loved in the summer, all through the summer,
we loved,
and at the harvest moon, I loved you still, but you were gone

after the summer,
all the peaches were gone,
their sweetness dried and packed away,
and away you stayed.

Now, another year has passed,
another year beneath the sky
beneath the sky, I wonder why—
but I am fine, the past’s gone by

though the scent of peaches still makes me sigh.

Something a bit different from me for dVerse. Laura has asked us to use repetition, specifically, epiphora:

1a. Epiphora (aka Epistrophe or Antistrophe ). The repeat lines should for the most part be consecutive although allowances are made for alternates as well as the use of the repeat word with variance. Employ repetitions with the maxim ‘ too often is too heavy’!

AND those who like an extra challenge might like add in some

1b. Symploce – the combined use of anaphora and epiphora. . .

Fun Fact: Epiphora in medical terms means watery eyes due to excess tear production. So you may like to write a tear-jerker, something sad at least. Its optional!

Also, for Kim’s Tuesday dVerse prompt on fruit.