Stardust and Blood

Monday Morning Musings:

 “How close people could be to us when they had gone as far away as possible, to the edges of the map. How unforgettable.”

–Paula McLain, Circling the Sun

“I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,

To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,”

-Walt Whitman, “I Sing the Body Electric”


In the quiet morning breeze

I gaze at the sky, the pink-tinged frieze

of clouds, a line then brushed

by sun and wind, its blush

faded to white, in the diffusing sunlight.

I breathe in the ancient longing

belonging to us all—for affection,

to find connections

(despite an election)

After all, we’re all made of stardust,

and we’ve emerged from the sea,

to inhale the air made by our trees–

all related, far enough back, we share the same genes.

I don’t know what it means,

But we’re all people, not infestations,

no matter our color, religion, or nation.


My cousin comes to visit–

his father was the brother of my mother,

we share this blood-bond

but I don’t think we’ve ever talked

so much, so one-on-one

of this and that

(we pause to watch and pet the cat).








I display some family genealogy

and we try to parse a chronology

of those from our past,

discuss and compare

the connections we share,

different views of relatives we know

(bring out more photos to show),

My grandfather as a young man. The photo is undated, but taken in Philadelphia.


































Stories of growing up

an old joke about the Penn Fruit store,

which is no more–

residing now only in our youthful before,

part of the memory,

a moss of summer dreams

that stick, it seems

even in the frost,

when autumn leaves fall,

still they call.


We visit the battlefield park,

watch the geese swim in formation

the same way they fly in the sky

(all the whys)

and wonder at their destination,

Red Bank Battlefield
National Park, NJ

National Park, NJ









watch the planes, look at the Philadelphia skyline—

this day is more than fine—

we walk and talk

amidst the ghosts of a battle past

after the guns fired and the cannons blast,

the Hessian soldiers here that died.

But they are quiet, and if they tried

to communicate, perhaps it was too late,

we didn’t hear them today

as we walked the pathway

in and out of yesterday.


We go on to our daughter’s,

whose soul glows bright,

sit with family by firelight,










laugh and talk

and pet their dog,









content to be in the moment here

multi-generations, with faces dear,

and if you were perhaps to overhear

amidst the jokes and banter,

you might find fear

of the future,

but it would be mostly love, you’d hear.









24 thoughts on “Stardust and Blood

  1. It sounds like you had a fantastic visit, Merril.
    I have cousins I haven’t seen in 30, and some for 40, years. That seems so long. And then there are the childhood memories of 50+ years ago. I think, “What would be the connection, now.” I know there would be a lot of catching up to do, but I imagine them as people I don’t even know. But then, I recognize that their memories of those times, being different from mine, could well be enlightening. It’s so easy to become comfortable, complacent even, in our current situations. But I’ve been delving into genealogy the past couple of years and realize there are questions I should have been asking over the last 40 years – some of them about the last 100 years. Having those answers, even if second-or-third-hand would be nice.

    • Thank you, Ken.
      There are cousins I haven’t seen in thirty years or more, too. And second cousins that I don’t know at all. This cousin and I keep in touch through FB and sometimes e-mails. I saw him and his sisters a few years ago, but we grew up in different cities.
      I also wish I had asked more questions of all the relatives who are now dead. So much I don’t know.

  2. What a wonderful title. I was thinking of Joni’s song today too.
    When my mother died, I connected with her 2nd cousin when I wrote to tell her (just a name in my mother’s address book). She has told me many things about family I would never have known, and is a delight as a person as well. It’s a precious serendipity when these things come our way.(K)

  3. I was captivated by your preamble particularly this: “After all, we’re all made of stardust,
    and we’ve emerged from the sea,
    to inhale the air made by our trees–
    all related, far enough back, we share the same After all, we’re all made of stardust,
    and we’ve emerged from the sea,
    to inhale the air made by our trees–
    all related, far enough back, we share the same genes.”

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