Songs of Us

Monday Morning Musings:

“Now I will do nothing but listen,

To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute
toward it.

I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames,
clack of sticks cooking my meals,

I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,

I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following,”

–From Walt Whitman, Song of Myself


Beneath every cloud

watch this song bloom–

it is bright sun, wild wind,

moon murmuring peace–

ancient cycles breathe color and bloom

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 6.56.44 AM


We gather in a flurry of hugs and kisses,

wings outspread,

bright with color,

like tropical birds

cooing and chattering

instead of trills or caws,

I hear the sound I love,

the sound of human voices

the sound of people I love

it is a moment to remember,

my mother’s 95th birthday brunch.


We celebrate with food and drinks

in a courtyard room,

doors open to a day of August beauty

we talk and laugh

(the sound of voices)

take photos

(the sound of groans and laughter)

we sing happy birthday

(the sound of music)

and eat the cake my daughter has baked and decorated



Afterward, we take my mother home

she comments on the length of my daughters’ dresses

and I laugh that she who is nearly blind can see this

and the “designs” on one daughter’s arms

We talk about art–

her famous artist cousin, Abe Hankins,

she points out his work on her walls,

he lived with her family for a time

and taught my teenage mother dances,

he had lived in Paris and brought French style and flair,

he wasn’t a starving artist because his wife supported him

(or so my mother says)

one daughter is enchanted by a photo of my mom with her cousins

when they were all young


my mother tries to remember a hospital she was in

when she a little girl with diphtheria

“well, it was ninety years ago,” she says

no sound of planes in the sky when she was young

no telephone in her house

parents who traveled by ship across a sea to live here

never to see their homeland again

war and peace

sounds of life and sounds of silence

fuse, follow, ancient cycle

breathe in

breathe out


we open presents,

more art,

this time from one daughter


a poem and cookies from me

all sounds running together

stemming, streaming from hearts full of love


We go home, change into PJs

eat again and watch TV

my sisters text me and my daughters–

“Can you believe I’m eating again?”

commenting on how my mom has–

well, her own sense of reality, sometimes

voices in our heads, voices on the screen

fusing together

time for dreams


The next morning, I wake to birdsong

it seems effortless and amazing

but what do I know?

bravura display, to my human ears

I go for a walk

listening to Hamilton

and almost dancing to the riverside

Sunday morning sunshine,

a little breeze

the end of summer,

autumn is on the way,

another cycle of the seasons,

the cicadas hum

the geese march, swim, fly, and honk

the flowers are blooming

(And I’m not throwing away my shot.)

all the sounds running together, combined—

birds and Broadway


In the afternoon, we go to a wine festival

taste wines

sample foods

eat the cheese and enjoy the day

enjoy each other

ancient cycles

time-bound and timeless

the sounds I love running together,

combined, fused or following,

the sound of nature

the song of myself

the song of all of us

echoing in my heart




The Oracle seemed in tune with my weekend. We celebrated my mom’s brunch at Jerry’s Bar in Philadelphia, and we went to the Riverwinds Wine Festival in West Deptford, NJ.

A special shout out to Ken of Rivrvlogr  of writes poetry, especially haiku and tanka, of nature and current events, and Robin of Witlessdatingafterfifty  who takes photographs of her family and area of Ohio and write book reviews in verse. I truly appreciated that they both spent time going through my past blog posts yesterday. Check out their blogs!






48 thoughts on “Songs of Us

  1. I enjoy these so much Merril. And what a beautiful message from the Oracle! Tell your mother my younger daughter spent a year or two as a child mourning the fact that I didn’t name her Syliva “It’s such a beautiful name!”. And so she gifted it to one of her Barbies–a huge compliment. (K)

  2. “the sound I love, the sound of the human voice” flows throughout this, Merril.

    Thank you for the shout out. I’ve had some absences this year – preparing for a wedding, a wedding, a stellar family/eclipse event (and soon, a delayed honeymoon). I always try to catch up on reading afterwards, but realized I’d missed a few from one of my favorite poets.

    • Thank you so much, Ken. I appreciate your very kind words!
      I am glad you have such wonderful reasons for absences from bloggerland in the fabulous experiences you are having in real life.

  3. So many smiles and much love! Your mom’s smiles said it all. You wrote a poem and read it for your mom on her special day? How thrilling for her! I Googled Abe Hankin’s paintings, and they’re extraordinary — the abstract ones, especially. You’ve been busy, dear Merril!

  4. Your mom is incredible! And she has an incredible family who celebrates her every year of life. I loved your poem ( inspired by Walt Witman-one of my favorite poets) and your photographs and your celebration of family.

  5. I found my shout out from you!! 📣📯🔊
    I am quite fond of you and like to go and see what you have written, Merril.
    Music, nature, rhythms, sounds, silence and lots of love flowing through your family. It is like a vine of ivy, young tendrils and offshoots, older roots with strength and courage flowing throughout.
    Happy belated 95th birthday to your mother!
    🍷 💐 🎂 🍷
    May the year linger and loiter, lounge and lengthen. . .
    Your daughter’s cake looks delicious (as recent cupcakes as flowers did.) Your cookies have the best taste ever, coming from a passed down, altered for improvement, recipe!
    My Mom’s reality varies at times of day. During quiet still moments in the garden, she shows clarity. Later raucous times, when toddler Jackson (Rich and Susan’s grandies is 2 and 1/2) comes running and shouting, Mom wants to raise her voice and be confusedly vocal. 😉

    • Thank you so much, Robin. I seldom post them, but often when we’re wandering, I tell my husband I’m taking a door photo for my friend Robin. 🙂
      I’m sorry that your mom’s reality varies. It must be difficult for you and your siblings.

      • Aww, one day we should meet up. Then he would see I exist outside of doors and Ohio landscape.
        I may have mentioned I planned to head first week of November to see a friend in Long Beach, Mississippi. She and I went through a lot during our college days together. The only things are, she spends time in Michigan during the hurricane season and also, the tickets plus gas prices seem to be rising. We shall see!
        Mom isn’t diagnosed but remembers best in the morning and is more coherent. She is still quite interesting and loving. We are blessed to have them here on earth. My three longest living friends all are without their mothers, two with no parents alive. They remind me to treasure these days and moments.❤

      • It would be fun to meet up sometime, Robin! Good luck with your trip to see your friend. The less coherent at night thing is quite common from what I understand. It’s sometimes called “sundowning.” I’m glad you still get to have fun with her.

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