November Clouds

Nearly every day I find something in the natural world that astounds me with its beauty– a single wildflower, a shy, graceful deer, or a stunning cloudscape over the Delaware River. When I walk, usually early in the morning, I’m often filled with wonder—a sensation of body and mind. This morning, I almost didn’t walk because of the rain and thunder, but it stopped, and I went out to see the most incredible sky.

golden leaves glow
against charcoal clouds they dance,
fall in nature’s rhythm

Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. November Sky. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

This is for Kim’s prompt at dVerse, to write a haibun “about a time when you last watched stars, a storm, the sea, an animal, or something else in nature that left you with a sense of wonder or awe.”

Waves

Monday Morning Musings:

In the morning’s glow the water glimmers,
shimmers pink on blue,
as light slivers through silvered clouds
and geese and gulls skim the surface

Sunrise over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

I walk. Beauty, akin, but not identical,
the days similar, but different in ways
perhaps not profound, but meaningful
(to me) when I see a deer, or rippled sky

and wonder why—
the age-old questions, life, death,
and who am I? We drink some wine,
and watch the clouds–

we laugh aloud—enjoy the moment,
the storms come, and then they pass
and the waves surge, but they don’t last,
the sky is charcoal, then it’s blue.

The wind blows, the leaves fall
in golden puddles mound the ground,
the moon will hum, the sun will shine,
and winter fade in springtime’s bloom.

And you? You’ll be here, and so will I,
watching the tide flow in and outwards fly,
the shore uncovered again. And again.
Perhaps not a circle, but a chain

Geese and Cloud Reflections. Delaware River. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

linking everything. The waves of light, water,
motion—sky, river, ocean—
dust from the stars, amoebas and trees,
generations of humans, you and me.

The Whitall House and Reflections on the Delaware River. Sunrise. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched the movie, Waves. We had seen previews in the theater, pre-pandemic. The cinematic style—lots of pulsing color and light—probably plays better on a big screen. It took me a little while to get into it, but it’s a movie in two parts. The second part explores the aftermath of a tragedy that occurs in the first part. We both liked it, but it’s one of those movies that I liked more after I thought about it for a while.
We’re also watching Roadkill. In the US, it’s on Masterpiece (PBS). It’s always fun watching Hugh Laurie as a bad guy, and it was fun to see the female Danish prime minister from Borgen in it, too. We’ve watched 3 of the 4 episodes.

Together

Ilya Repin, “What Freedom!”

If how we need the sea is an ache,
then why? The wanting to return to a dream,
recalling water in diamond sprays on purple rocks and salted air,
flying starward to eternity—this is the before and after,
light and shadow, rhythm and music of the vast then and now,
a wild blue breeze. We surrender to time, wake to a universe of poetry,
together scream through the storm, our honeyed laughter soars, lingering.

This is an ekphrastic message from the Oracle. As I was writing, I got the image of this painting in my head. She’s obviously a fan, and a bit of romantic–at least today.

Space Dancers

“However, what it is really exciting about NGC 1097 is that it is not wandering alone through space. It has two small galaxy companions, which dance “the dance of stars and the dance of space” like the gracious dancer of the famous poem The Dancer by Khalil Gibran.” 
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA. Acknowledgement: E. Sturdivant

Somewhere in space, impossibly it seems,
the stars always sing. They bring to rings of light,
celestial rhythm, a chance to dance, a sort of space romance,
a stellar pas de deux.

In whirling-waltz, they swirl possibly unaware,
of sparks flame-shot in incandescent flares.

A quadrille for dVerse, where De has asked us to use some form of the word possible.

And so, We Walk

Monday Morning Musings:

In the last spring-like days of November
we handover without hand-touching, transferring
from our home shelf, bubble-wrapped and packed
this simple ceramic container—the squirrel

washed clear of contaminants, yet still filled
with memories. The moment is bittersweet—
we will not be together to celebrate, not like before when we ate,
and talked and laughed together, but here now, we walk

within autumn’s luscious light, as it slow-crawls to fall
and flame-tip leaves, we stroll through a golden glow
where horses trot, then canter, as we banter enchanted by the day–
stay these moments, sway the shadows from lengthening

Horseback Rider on Forbidden Drive, along Wissahickon Creek ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

as they have and will—
yet still, we reflect on this and that, the trill of birds,
the falling leaves, and plants that land upside down
in water, sparkling and shimmering

Clouds Reflected in the River. Delaware River at Red
Bank Battlefield, ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

and through the glimmering, the geese soar
with a honk of greeting or farewell—and the smell
of autumn crisp with muddy undertones—
buried unknowns will bloom again come spring,

when perhaps once again we’ll go wandering,
and the weather will warm, the insects will swarm,
and butterflies will fly away
in the bright sunlight of longer days.

Those who follow my blog know all about our family’s Thanksgiving cranberry squirrel. My niece took over making it several years ago, a project she did with my mom every year. Our family will not be getting together for Thanksgiving this year, so I will only see the cranberry squirrel in photos and/or videos. The squirrel mold lives at my house, so we met sort of halfway to walk with masks on along Forbidden Drive along Wissahickon Creek. My mom loved to eat there at the Valley Green Inn.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched the movie The Life Ahead (Netflix 2020), a new movie with Sophia Loren, directed by her son, Edoardo Ponti. It’s the story of woman, a Holocaust survivor, who cares for the children of prostitutes, and who takes in a Senegalese orphan. It could have been overly sentimental, but it wasn’t, largely due to the wonderful performances by Loren, the boy, and the rest of the cast. It’s a story of how families are formed from neighborhood people who care.

In Blue Sea Whispers

Jay Hall Connaway, Public Domain, Wikipedia


But do you still ache for dreams
crushed by purple-shadowed storms?
Fever-hearted, you watch the diamond glitters
of sun-licked rocks,

~and after, you breathe, cooled,~

smelling all the ifs in blue sea whispers,
you drink it in–
yet even so, the wind asks why
time both haunts and heals.

Another sensory sort of poem. This time it’s my Saturday message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.

Walking by the River, the Morning After

Joe Biden was declared the winner–

across the river, they danced in the streets
and horns honked. Here, it was quiet,
geese sailed serenely; their own squabbles settled
with brief in-your-face trumpeting and posturing—perhaps
not so different, as they fall into formation–and yet,
I watch them take turns leading, caring for each other,
soaring in a victory V, circling. Then
as dawn laughs, and the water blushes,
the horizon, foreshortened, expands,
Philadelphia emerges from the fog, the sky
much bluer than it was.

I missed Peter’s dVerse prompt on Tuesday to write poetry bearing witness to our local neighborhood, so I’m linking to the dVerse Open Link Night, where Linda is hosting.

Living in the Aftermath

Edward Hopper, “Automat,” 1927

The war has been over for five years, but still she watches for him. She can see him as he was–in threadbare clothes like everyone–but somehow elegant. As her cigarette burns untouched, along with the food on her plate, she thinks about their last meeting and his promise to meet her at the safehouse.

She sat inside it for hours, as the day darkened to dusk, then thinking she heard a sound—she remembers it so well–walking outside to find there is nothing behind the wall except a space where the wind whistles. And then the soldiers came. Had Pierre betrayed her? Is he living a life with another name now? How many names has he had?

She has survived, but she’s only half alive. She sits at the table in the dreary café till closing. Then goes home alone.

This is for dVerse, where I’m hosting Prosery today, using

“there is nothing behind the wall
except a space where the wind whistles”
from “Drawings By Children” by Lisel Mueller

I thought I’d go back to the spies—a different couple, I think–and Hopper.

The Light I see

Monday Morning Musings:

I dream poems
of misty November mornings
and blue rivers tinged with shimmery pink,

Dreamy. Foggy November morning. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

of wine-dark skies, I drink
from half-full glasses filled with hope
and watch opalescent glow breaking bright–

last night, I dreamt of glass-ceilings shattered–
not store-front windows–
of people raised, not battered

in coordinated terror, fleeing sharp shards
of cutting hate, and the coming conflagration to annihilate–
but I dream not of bonfire flash and ashes,

of books and people burned, but autumn peace,
watching the sun sink behind russet leaves,
knowing the flaming eaves are an illusion,

William Heritage Winery

without any confusion, simply beauty,
the way it should be.
And so, my poetry dreams

lucid, drifting through timeless place,
with pellucid water rippling through space and time-
expanding circles

Ripples, a stone tossed into the river on a misty morning. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

that never end, from sand to horizon,
rising whispers to stars and sea, see me–
the light burns through fog to capture shadows and gild the trees.

My shadow caught in a tree.

So, I guess this is really meta, since I really did dream poems last night of misty November mornings and blue rivers.
Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of crystal), November 9-10, 1938, also called the Night of Broken Glass when Nazis and supporters carried out pogroms on the Jewish population and businesses in Germany and annexed areas. You can read more here.

Probably everyone reading this knows that Joe Biden is now the official president-elect of the US, and Kamala Harris is the first woman, first Black woman, and first Asian woman in the US to become vice-president elect of the US. We listened to them speak on Saturday night, and I was particularly moved by Harris’s speech.

Merril’s Movie Club: Prior to the listening to the speeches, we watched the movie, Sometimes Always Never, a sweet, quirky little movie starring Bill Nighy as a father searching for his lost son who vanished during a Scrabble game years before. There is a lot about Scrabble and words in the film. We both enjoyed it, but definitely not for the action, blockbuster crowd. It’s on Amazon.

We have had unseasonably warm days, and we managed to get reservations for outdoor wineries twice this week, William Heritage Winery, and the Auburn Road Winery Wine Garden at Hill Creek Farms. I’m afraid we may go into lockdowns soon, and even if we don’t, I won’t be sitting indoors, so I thought we’d enjoy it while we can.