Souls Amongst Us, Drifting

Monday Morning Musings:

“None of it was real; nothing was real. Everything was real; inconceivably real, infinitely dear. These and all things started as nothing, latent within a vast energy-broth, but then we named them, and loved them, and, in this way, brought them forth. And now must lose them. I send this out to you, dear friends, before I go, in this instantaneous thought-burst, from a place where time slows and then stops and we may live forever in a single instant. Goodbye goodbye good—”

—George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo


“I met you on a midway at a fair last year. . .”

Joni Mitchell, “That Song about the Midway” (1969)


Ancient cycle of souls

between rocks and rivers


Laurel Hill Cemetery, view of the Schuylkill River


walk sweetly

(some say)

follow us in spirit form,



rising with the moon

blooming with the stars

living in harmony with the cosmos

watching flowers blossom

year after year

the willow weeps for them

amidst angels and urns

obelisks and hands pointing to the sky


and here we are, alive

walking amongst them

hearts and bones

flesh and blood

a family outing

the young women–and us

no longer young—

(except in our dreams)

a groundhog warms itself on a gravestone

then disappears

a moment come and gone

nothing is real

everything is real

there are ghosts all around us

We drink wine

enjoy a picnic dinner

the singer plays her guitar strings

sings about the midway

slowing down

birds take flight in a dramatic sky

(in a moment there, then gone)

wearing wings, they looked so grand

hanging upon the face of night

soon scented with petrichor

we move to shelter

as the rain pounds down

drink some more

discover that caramel corn flavored with Old Bay seasoning

may be the snack we didn’t know we craved,

my daughter and I talk of haircuts, then Shelley and Keats

Grecian urns and time

passing fast and slow—

stopping midway, going down

everything is real

the moments paused in my mind, infinitely dear


we watch a movie, sweet and tender

about a widowed Hasidic man

we feel sorry him,

he only wants to regain custody of his son,

though he seems to sabotage himself at times

we all know someone like him

yet still, we root for him

it doesn’t matter that they are Hasidic

speaking in Yiddish

nor that it is a patriarchal culture

where the main function of women

is to have children and take care of the home

they could be any father and son

the boy finds a video of his mother

he replays it

a moment from the past

but life goes on, the rabbi says

and we learn to go on, too


We discuss the movie over coffee

agree the boy is incredibly cute

(like a Maurice Sendak illustration, I say)

we walk and talk

through old city streets


past graves

our shadows—

real, not real

fly over graves of Revolutionary War soldiers–

everything starting as nothing

then named and loved,

all the fathers and sons,

the mothers and daughters,

lingering in hearts and minds


till they are forgotten

midway in time

the cycle begins again

ancient souls float between rocks and rivers


they linger in your mind

you may almost see them

feel them

drifting in the breeze


We walked through Laurel Hill Cemetery, founded in 1836, and intended from the beginning to be a recreation site, as well as a burial place. We saw the movie, Menashe. Trailer here.

We walked through the yard of St. Peter’s in Old City Philadelphia. A brief history here.


17 thoughts on “Souls Amongst Us, Drifting

  1. Beautiful walks and thoughts and poetry. Your musings feel/read like a song this week. ♪♫
    Old Bay seasoning on caramel corn. The idea must have originated in Maryland. 😉
    They put Old Bay seasoning on everything down here. I’m serious. Everything. It’s produced in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland and this region’s claim to fame.

    • Thanks so much, Robin!
      I know Old Bay seasoning comes from the Chesapeake Bay area, but I forgot to look up who makes this caramel corn. It probably is a Maryland company. It was SO good! 🙂

  2. I might never get this phrase out of my head: “intended from the beginning to be a recreation site, as well as a burial place.” Well, I suppose it makes sense since you can’t have life without death and vice versa. Why not have life brimming around a cemetery? I do love your poetic musings.

    • Thank you so much, Marie! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
      There was actually a 19th century rural cemetery movement in the U.S. I believe Mount Auburn in Cambridge, MA. was the first. (It’s beautiful!). Then Laurel Hill was next. Families used to go there, visit their loved ones, perhaps, have a picnic, contemplate nature. . .

  3. As the rain pounds down, drink some more…

    Certainly — what better thing is there to do when it rains? Lol. The dark side of me loves the thought of the living mingling with spirits from the past. Even nature with the weeping willows got involved, as well. Loved this!! 👻

  4. The past and present mingle, sometimes more visibly than others. I live half a block from a large cemetery, so the spirits are always around I think! As usual, a wonderful evocation of your days. (K)

  5. The cemetery has hills and depth. I like your details of groundhog, moon, stars, cosmos and flowers. Natural wonders, adding cosmos could be a type of flower. . .
    Your daughter, her husband, your husband and you make a wonderful set of doubles. I like the sound of this movie.
    I liked the repetition of “midway” in different places with variation of meaning and place.
    The brick courtyard which looks like zigzag (youngest daughter calls it “chevron” pattern) makes me cheerful at this space between buildings which could become filled with many family members and friends.
    I’m traveling back in time until I see my last (or first) like. . .

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