Something in the Light

Monday Morning Musings:

“I want to move on

I want to explore the light

I want to know how to get through,

Through to something new,

Something of my own—

Move on. . .

Something in the light,

Something in the sky,

In the grass,

Up behind the trees. . .

Things I hadn’t looked at

Till now. . .”

–From Stephen Sondheim, “Move On,” Sunday in the Park with George


There’s something in the light of autumn

the way the sunlight streams low between the changing leaves

leaving summer behind, but somehow looking forward, too,

in a last burst of flame-charged energy till they, their quietus make

and something in the light changes again

producing grey and violet skies

till the earth wakens again in the spring,

moving on.



A vineyard hayride

to a field of pumpkins and apple trees

I listen to snippets of conversation

The mother talking about the Noah’s Ark movie

“It shows you what it was really like back then.”

So much crazy wrong there, but I restrain myself,

move on to explore the light

look up at the trees

and there below

things I hadn’t looked at till now

things I hadn’t seen before–

the way the sun makes the apples glow

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and the shadows dancing in the breeze

and the music of the yellow jackets buzzing around the fallen fruit.


We drink our wine

darker than the apples

or garnets glowing in the light

tasting of sun and earth and promises,

we listen to a musician play classic rock and blues

watch the children and the dogs enjoying the warmth

on this summer-like day in October

but there’s something in the light,

different now in the fall from our summertime visits

we move on through the seasons

and I make applesauce when we get home.

On Sunday, we travel to my sister’s house,

stopping first to pick up my mom

who was confused about the day

and was not ready for us

her vision nearly gone,

her world is shrinking

the light in her eyes dimmer

as she moves on, five years short of a century

I think of all she’s seen–

the memories of people and places that play in her mind

now a bit confused–

I wonder if how we see the world changes it?

Did the Island of La Grande Jatte change because of Seurat

and how he saw the light?

If we could see more colors, more light

would it change anything?

How does one move on after seeing Monet’s water lilies or Van Gogh’s starry night?

Do we ever see these things the same way again?

Painting by Sylvia Schreiber

Enter a caption


We meet my sister and her wife’s new dog

my mom says she’s glad they’re keeping this one

they keep  returning them, she says

not true, of course,

but she sees things differently now sometimes,

and I look up to see something in the trees

something in the sky

the light—


We eat and then take her shopping

the shoe department, a mix of Kafka and Catch 22,

(something in the department store light?)

somehow, we maneuver and decode

before we explode

purchase two pairs of shoes

black and navy

(slightly different in the light)

and move on to bras.


Imagine now,

five women in a dressing room,

two manipulating my mother,

making jokes as they handle her breasts

inserting them into cups

all of us finally laughing–

and then a fart,

producing bent-over-as-tears-stream-from-your-eyes-laughter

finally, we stop, breathe–

there’s work to be done,

and a timetable–

we get my mother her bras

then back to the house for dessert,

Mandelbrot and brownies,


because why bother with anything that’s not chocolate?

We sit outside in my sister’s garden

enjoying the sun, enjoying the light

until it’s time to move on.


From the stars

and to the dawn

in light that reaches us

from billions of years away

we see something there

and something here,

something in the light

moving on

25 thoughts on “Something in the Light

  1. another exquisite meditation… moving on: bringing the past, enjoying the moment, leaning into the future… but how do we see each.. nothing is constant as you allude so well, a single painting changing everything, so goes the apple on the ground, too.

    • Thank you very much, Eliot. Yes, the inconstancy of the world around us–well, the universe I suppose–and also our limited, but constantly changing way of perceiving our world. And the things themselves–like the apples, that also change.

      • upon further reflection, through your thought, is that there is also something that is a (approaching) constancy beneath the inconstancy.. that maybe some moments, like those with family, provide a glimpse.

      • Yes, that is a comforting thought. Did you watch the show, “Lost,” when it was on?
        There was an episode that I loved (romantic that I am) where one of the characters discovered that a woman he loved was his constant through time/space (or whatever Lost was). 🙂

  2. I believe this is the only blog post today that I’ll read about inserting mother’s breasts into cups accompanied by a fart + apple season and women with one daring man posing for the camera. Well, done, Merril.

    Right now I’m reading And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran, a blind man and young leader of one arm of the French Resistance. He sees light at a different slant of course. Probably you’ve heard of him.

  3. Ah yes, there is truly something in autumn’s light that produces a glow we don’t see during the other seasons. The last blaze of glory, I suppose. I laughed at the bra fitting and the fart somehow making their way into the magic of apple picking. It’s just as magical, being with family and making memories. Farts and all.
    I so enjoy your beautiful writing, Merril. 🙂

  4. How beautiful, so full of George’s color and light and harmony. How he looks, how we look, how your mother looks, what she sees. Are we not all dots that come together to form something magical, something memorable.
    Ile de la Grande Jatte has indeed changed but it is also marked by Seurat, when I am there I look to see what he saw and you can see it, in places, traces of what once was.
    Thank you as always for the musings my dear. (and, of course, for the fart!)

    • Thank you very much, Damien for your lovely comment. I started wondering about how art influences how we see things, and how we change, and what we see changes. . . I debated the fart, but it’s part of life, right? And it definitely colored the moment. 🙂

  5. We have some similar parallel paths we walk, Merril. Mine is more solitary, my visit with Mom, one on one. After dinner and a long day which started last Friday at 5 am for me, she says tentatively, “Maybe we could lie down in the dark on my bed?” I say, “Of course.” We talk about bedtimes, Dad being there, reading to us, children and later, my own children. She says a few words, sighs, laughs a little and then says she wants to say a bedtime prayer. It is a simple one, she stumbles, I allow her to get quiet and think. I tell her, “Sleep tight, Don’t let the bed bugs bite!” She nods her head and we kiss on the lips. I wait until I hear her breathing. The day you had was shared and fun + funny! 😀 Your mother seems happy with her girls around her. It is a wonderful and strange experience, role reversals in our stories. 💞

  6. I found your blog post because I searched under “Stephen Sondheim.” What an exquisite poem/meditation/window into your life — inspired in part by Mr. Sondheim’s song (who was himself inspired by Seurat’s art and life). Thank you for writing and sharing it with the blogosphere. I particularly liked: “So much crazy wrong there, but I restrain myself, move on to explore the light, look up at the trees, and there below, things I hadn’t looked at till now, things I hadn’t seen before…”

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