The Heaviness of Secrets

Edward Hopper, Monhegan House, Maine

I’m weary, and sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy. The secrets that fill them are an extra weight I carry with me always. In the terror of those times, they were a fuel I swallowed eagerly, and they kept me alive then. How could I know that they would stay within, bricks cemented to my core?

We all had secrets. We were chameleons. Pierre/Paul/Hans—he had so many names. Were any of them real? Where are you? I’ve wondered for over a decade now. Oh, there have been rumors—he was sighted in Moscow, in Buenos Aires, in Singapore—but none of them have checked-out.

Yet, I can’t rest. I comfortable here in Maine, living on the pension from the job I’m not allowed to talk about. But I’m going back to France. I have one final lead to follow.

I’ve returned to my spies and Hopper for Linda’s prosery prompt at dVerse. She asks us to use the line:
“Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy,” from Mary Oliver’s “Spring Azures.”

All the Blues

Monday Morning Musings:

A gull seems to play in the river waves. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

Today the gray has strayed, and sunlight deepens–
a color called cold water blue–
unfrosted are the ripples
where gulls and geese sway
and gather on the shifting sand
to sleep and talk and play.

Today there is no fog,
nothing obscured in the grayish gloom,
or hidden in ash-tipped cloud-rooms—
today is clear, the sun is bright

though not with summer heat, or spring’s promise
not even pastel frosted pink—but think
of what today may bring

joy, despair, most anything–
one day, one night, one vote, one
note of kindness can make a change, so

today I’ll take blue
water and sky. And the hour in between
dusk and night, dawn and day,
the color of jays, stones, and glass
robin’s eggs and midnight sky–ask
when the moon sings a silver lullaby
and forms a halo ‘round her face,

what is that place? And can we go?
Perhaps, in dreams. I don’t know,

But today I’ll take the blue of peace
and ripples that go on forever,
one making another, another making one,
lines merging in changing colors, sometimes grey,
but today it’s blue and sun.

I went down a rabbit hole of blue yesterday reading Brainpickings and then following the links .
And then today, the river was blue instead of the gray or tinted-pink it’s been.
I haven’t been anywhere or done anything special in weeks, so I can only muse about this. I am happy that there were no big violent mobs yesterday, though I’m still anxious. I hope all goes well on Wednesday for the inauguration.

I have cooked and baked though.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched One Night in Miami (Amazon Prime). It’s an excellent movie based on a play by Kemp Powers, who adapted it for the screen, and directed by Regina King, in her movie directorial debut. It concerns a meeting in 1964 between Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown right after Clay won the heavyweight title. The main, crucial moments of the movie take place in Malcolm X’s motel room where the men discuss, argue, explain, and try to make sense of their private-public lives. It feels like a real “room where it happened” historical moment. The movie is fictional, although the meeting did take place. The movie seems particularly timely right now.

Day Twelve: Special January Ekphrastic Challenge

My poem for Day Twelve of Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge. I wrote it, and Ithought I had sent it to him, but somehow it ended up in my mail drafts folder. Yesterday was definitely one of those days! I’ve responded to two works for this one. This one seems appropriate for MLK Day.

For Visionary Leaders, First Responders, Resisters, and All the Helpers, Everywhere

We’re in the same boat—
Death swims all around us, floats

with crocodile grin in skeletal face,
glides, sometimes without a trace–

a certain-skater,
a shadow-waiter

for color to flee. Let him be–

if there’s no hope–to do what he must,
when blood flows out and cold winds gust.

Beware the fakes and winter witches
who line their pockets with others’ riches–

but—call the intermediaries, if you can
the ones who stop the flow and span

the distance between wish and despair–
the bringers of light, the helpers who care–

those who take us from frozen tombs
to whisk in spring’s incipient blooms.

Day Eleven: Ekphrastic Challenge

My poem today for Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge responds to all three works of art.

All the Strands Carried, Come Together and Dissolve

The talking heads talk, on TV screens
and from online streams, pontificate and remonstrate
elucidate, and then negate—
but flowers do not wait

for thoughts and prayers, the analysis of fools’ blares.
Unaware of blithering-blather, the slathering lather
of rabid madness—

feeling neither hope nor sadness,
they simply do

until they’re through.

And, I am born, as are you–
in their petal-dust, scattered or buried,
river-ferried or eagle-carried,
or by winds and air brought here—again,
again, again–

then on a sigh, we’re here to live until we die,
and nourish once more the flowers that grow
and glow—
with a wave to bees, a waltz for trees—

a balm we seize,
a thread connecting bodies, earth, air, sea-
from the stars reborn, hearts, heads—we.

Beyond

A foggy January morning. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

Say there were shadows—there
whispering beneath the fog—and–
say there were blue-sprayed shapes
watching with silent sea-tongues
who wanted you to see

~beyond~

and after,
and if, the bitter blows come,
there is still the luscious scent of summer rain
and a dream of light,
of moon-song’s lingering silver after a storm.

Today’s message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. She always knows. The photo is from my walk earlier this morning.

Day Ten: Ekphrastic Challenge

For Day Ten of Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge, my poem responds to two works:

Just Over There

These fuzzy-brained days–
I’m a hand-puppet, waiting for direction,
a sense of what to do, which way to go
some sense at all
to my sensibility—magical realism it may be
when the surreal is real
in this inside-out and upside-down world—where is the key
to unlock it?

Somewhere, a butterfly flutters, and the world shudders;
Somewhere a rabbit hops, escaping a predator, or setting off a bomb.
Crow caws, and I open my eyes,
there is light, crystalline bright—
just over there. See?

Day Nine: Ekphrastic Challenge

For Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 9, I’m responding to “Ennui with eye “(KR) and “Ignore the real world forever” (MH).

I’m weary of the grey January sky–
the pewter-plated clouds simmer in gloom
but never warm, despite their chafing, and
their mumbling conversations drone on endlessly,
causing the wind to bite in reply. And I–

I want to ignore the real—this forever-frost that beckons
with a glistening smile, and then attacks with fierce lion claws,
pinking my skin, but

I want color,
bright red blooms and blue horses,
grazing on emerald grass. I want to wake
from a summer dream,
to a robin gathering golden rays into song.

Day Eight, January Ekphrastic Challenge

For Day Eight of Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge, my poem responds to all three works of art below.

The Dance

An unlikely traveler,
with no longing for adventure,
only a desire to live without fear.

Money exchanged, his life rearranged–
one suitcase and a view
of storm-chased clouds and waves like horses,
galloping toward a hazy horizon, somewhere ahead

perhaps, there’s a quiet island, a house
with windows looking out on azure sky and singing seas,
golden-downed ducks and geese
with bicycle horn honks—he laughs, it would be

a dream, he thinks, as a whale breaches–and
for a moment they are eye-to-eye,
connected, branches of the same ancestral tree–
all of us–swaying to a universal rhythm.
Shuffle, slide, snap, and with jazz hands twirl,
smile. Tilt your head, in wonder

of the world. He wants the dance to continue.

Day 7: Special January Ekphrastic Challenge

For Day, I’ve written two poems for Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge.

I liked all three pieces of art, but I responding to Kerfe Roig’s “Clarity” and Christine O’Connor’s (CO13).

Clarity

Coming home from the ER, I felt
a sense of clarity amidst the exhaustion,
and in the over-awakened midnight hour, an owl hooted
over and over again

calling for love, not warning,
I decided. And for love, we returned to the hospital
as the sun rose over the bridge to light the shadowed city streets.

Unfinished

There are ghosts in the secret garden
drifting through the flowers’ birdwing-flutters,
she senses them, but they are masked, invisible
against the bright blooms, unfinished with this world,
outside of time, inside the walls, they wait.

Day Six: Special January Ekphrastic Challenge

It’s Day 6 of Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge. My poem today responds to all three works of art. If you click the link, you’ll see the poems by other poets. Some have written poems for each work of art.

Does What Happened by the Lake Stay There?

There we gathered
wishing for fish,
fishing for wishes
this is—

a dream, I say.

Here by this winter lake,
three versions all of me–

each facing in a different direction,
future, past, and present

in the distance, cradling,
hills indistinct, the haze surround us,

Am I awake or asleep? I see a huge blue tail.

How can this be? A whale.

Is this omen or vision, for the sinner that is me?

I feel sharp wolf claws upon my back,
and when I wake, I see their tracks.