In Feathered Light

Monday Morning Musings:

The moon hums and the sun sings,
and feathered things with outstretched wings
soar into the light

dazzling white, the egrets’ flight,
the eagles’ glide, a majestic sight
above my head

and down below, the scent of dead
attract the vulture’s blooded head—
but even they fly

with graceful beauty in the sky
circling round—hello, goodbye—
life comes and goes

This cormorant spent several days in this spot.
Oh, Hello!

the questions everybody knows,
and none can answer, I suppose
there’s beauty in that, too–

science can tell us why the sky is blue,
yet perceiving it, is that new?
Do we name things so that we see–

or does sight come, and we feel free–
And still, we disagree
about the color of the sea,

fields of grain, and climbing vines
lost to asphalt, modern signs
of progress made,

decisions that now cascade,
a waterfall, decisions weighed
spinning in retrograde, still we shine

in setting sun, sipping wine,
fruits of field and vine,
talking as time slow-walks–

a paradox—the universe’s sleight–
time, truth, the beauty of the feathered light.

Morning— Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

We went to Blue Cork Winery in Williamstown, NJ this past week, where our daughter gave a talk—a brief history of sangria–and then guided us through making our own using a white and red base they supplied, along with fruit and juices. It was a fun event, and of course we bought a bottle of wine to take home, too.
I’m still finishing that chapter, so I apologize for my slow response time here. Also, I’m hosting dVerse Poetics tomorrow.

Portrait of a Mystery

Monday Morning Musings:

Delaware River, West Deptford, NJ. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

My dreams–a language-storm of do,
or not,
I try to recall

and wonder who are you—
and which is me—
all is enigma and mystery,

like a portrait-sitter lost in time
sublime or shaded, half-smile, three-quarter face
a hint of her wishes, or the artist’s embrace

of unconscious desire, inspiration
in symbols of her worth, still in last laugh–
she gazes into the future,

Leonardo da Vinci, Lady with an Ermine

can she imagine
how she’ll be carted through wars, another spoil,
a wall-hung prize, monster-cherished–

the attraction of beauty to the beast—
opposites, and circles
of the sun and moon–

with light comes shadow,
honeyed joy and bitter sorrow
alternate—the universe’s tessellated patterns

Oak Tree Shadows

as time moves on. . .

Now, little bird
silent-sitter, waiting to strike–
living dinosaur, a portrait, too.

We finally have a beautiful day after days of oppressive heat, humid, and storms.

I just finished The Night Portrait, a novel by Laura Morelli. I enjoyed both the writing and the story. It takes place in the fifteenth century as Leonardo da Vinci is painting Cecilia Gallerani, then the young mistress of Ludovico Sforza, and during WWII as the Nazis and confiscated art, and the Monuments Men are trying to find the stolen art.

We watched an Icelandic series on Netflix called Katla. If you like dark brooding Scandi-noir mixed with a bit of the supernatural, you’ll like it. It reminded me a little bit of the German series Dark. It’s about a town, now nearly deserted because an underwater volcano has started erupting, and mysterious things begin happening. . .We were really intrigued by it and finished the series in a few nights.

We also watched the first episode of season 4 of Unforgotten (PBS). I’m excited that it’s back on.

All the Dreams Fly Like Birds

Monday Morning Musings:

“Sueñito, it means ‘little dream.’”
–In the Heights

Three Crows on an Uprooted tree, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Three crows sit on an uprooted tree,
gods, fate, or destiny?
Day to night, birth to death, changes come—
love and regrets,

of words unspoken, of dreams unachieved,

but in the balance of all things–

“Like a Bird on a Wire.” (Leonard Cohen)

seeds are planted, and eggs hatched,
in fertile soil, with care and light,
life blooms, the cycle resumes,

seasons spun in revolutions
of the earth, and thoughts that spark like stars,
the universe of the mind, our Milky Way inside

in glittering array. Sometimes enlightenment
comes our way,

dream-born, though dreams evolve
with the dancing of your heart and the echoes
of the stars,

the fire in your eyes
and reflections from the sky,
the whys and when return again
revolving into something new—

the evolution of dreams come true.

Between storms. Early Morning, the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

We are dust from the stars,
and rise from the sea,
we wing and dive–fate or fait accompli?
Ever-soaring dreams blowing
through earth, sky, and blue-water flowing.

It is definitely summer in southern NJ! Heat, humidity, storms—and then an occasional beautiful day. We went out once this week for a trivia night at a winery. We were not allowed to have our phones out during the rounds, so I only got this one photo.

Trivia Night at Sharrott Winery

Merril’s Movie Club—We watched two movies this week, and I would watch both of them again. One you’ve probably heard of, and one you probably have not heard about. Our friends invited us to a movie night at their house, so we could watch In the Heights. (We don’t have HBO, and they do. It’s also playing in theaters.) You may or may not know that I love musicals, and this one combines Lin Manual Miranda’s songs with old-fashioned movie musical choreography and vision. Dreams (and immigrants and DREAMers) is a recurring theme in the movie. All the actors are wonderful. My friend, Pat (the one in charge of rainbows) had a bounty of farm-fresh summer vegetables and made a grilled a vegetable lasagna. I made brownies because. . .well, chocolate.

My husband and I also saw Undine, the most recent movie by German director Christian Petzold. (Rental through Amazon.) It stars the two leads from his previous movie, Transit, which my husband and I both really enjoyed. We also both liked this one, though maybe not quite as much. The movie is a sort of modern re-telling of the ancient myth of the water nymph, Undine. My husband, who had never heard of the legend of Undine, saw the movie as a metaphor of Berlin. So, it’s clearly not a movie for people who like straight-forward stories. It’s dreamy and has a beautiful score (mainly the adagio from Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974), but also “Stayin Alive), and we had a great discussion about it afterwards.

We had some wine and cheese to nibble on while we watched the movie.

Movie Watching Companion

Incoherent Light

Monday Morning Musings:

My friend’s husband says she’s in charge of rainbows,
a wondrous job, I think, but she doesn’t want it.
I understand, it’s a lot of responsibility–
but imagine the perks—would you see all the light
we cannot see? A scattering of particles, the coherence
and incoherence of light—the flow of color, like a waterfall–

Early morning light on the Delaware River (there’s a morning moon in the upper left corner) ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021
A cloudy morning-

on the car ride home, we hear part of a Ted Talk on the radio. The speakers are discussing stars,
they sing “we are stardust,” as people are setting off noisy fireworks all around us,
seeking light in the sky, not realizing it’s within.

Early morning sun over the Delaware River.

My cat leaps from his comfortable tabletop slumber at a loud bomb-like burst. I think of our other cat, dead but alive in memory, Schrödinger’s cat—and I think of the graveyard of twinkling splendor I see in the night sky, the ghost light of ancient stars, echoing.


Do some people become black holes, full of light that’s caught–and so dense,
trapping anything in their path and extinguishing all sparks,

Relaxed

the glow of sun on water, reflections that magnify what is or what could be?
We only see our own images in reflection. Perhaps it is the truth, that we—
and everything—wavers—depictions that flow endlessly through time—incoherent, chimerical,
shifting.

Crow circles, caws to the river, sky, air—look around you—
and I try, but–

As the crow flies— over the Delaware River©️Merril D. Smith 2021

my dear friend, I’m in need of rainbows. Please see what you can do.

Sunrise and mist over Pitman Golf Course–taken by my husband.

Yesterday, was Independence Day in the US, the Fourth of July. We got together with friends for dinner, and when we got home the neighborhood crazies were setting off fireworks for the second night in a row—but worse last night. My cat was terrified, and I was annoyed. I’m hoping we don’t have another night of it.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched two movies this week. Coherence is a low-budget 2013 indie film that we both really enjoyed. It’s a Twilight Zone type story of a dinner party on a night when a comet is streaming by very close to the Earth. Strange things happen, but it’s better not to know in advance about them. But you may question what is real. It’s available free on Amazon Prime, and maybe elsewhere. We also watched Shiva Baby, a new movie (rental from Amazon) that we also really liked—me perhaps more than my husband because I felt like some of the people could be my relatives. Nearly all of the movie takes place at a shiva, but it’s a comedy/dramedy. We’ve all probably been stuck in awkward social situations that we can’t seem to get out of, and this movie captures that feeling perfectly.

Beclouded

Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, July. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Does the fiddler recall the shadows or sun?
Dreams of a sweet peach sky, or
the languid light of in-between
almost,
~and if~
you ache for sea and diamond night,
feel it in the chill wind’s tongue licking your cheek,
and the whisper of its ancient song
across a thousand miles and worlds.

My poem from the magnetic poetry Oracle. She obviously knows what is going on everywhere, and most of the words came from her. The photo is from my walk this morning. It is cooler today after the thunderstorms yesterday, and we might get more today.

We Measure Time

Monday Morning Musings:

We measure time in sunglow and moon-sighs,
in the numbers of hellos, goodbyes–
and we do it again.

We measure time in heartbeats,
the food we eat,
the hours spent with friends,

our hair greying,
our shadows growing
as wine in summer glows, easygoing

like a lazy river flowing
the memories growing—
love, family, companions—

Kayaker seen from Martine’s. Delaware River at New Hope, Bucks County, PA

Do you remember? I say,
that time, this day?
We celebrate the decades gone

and hope that more remain,
though nothing stays the same.
Still, the sun glows, the moon sighs,

hello, goodbye. Love moves through phases,
so do I. Waxing, waning, silver, gold, while the sun blazes
I might seem cold,

but I’ll still shine while you grow old.
So, measure time in love you hold
folded gently, held within–every story told.

Schuylkill River near the Water Works.
By the Schuylkill River, June 2021

We celebrated our wedding anniversary by walking through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in Bucks County, PA, and then having a delightful lunch at Martine’s Riverhouse in New Hope. We walked through the town a bit, and then walked along the canal path. We couldn’t have ordered a more beautiful day. Earlier in the week, we enjoyed wine with dear friends at William Heritage Winery. On Saturday, we visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the first time since the pandemic, and then walked along the Schuylkill River. It rained, and then got steamy. For dinner that night, we opened some champagne and ate Indian food from Spice Affair Indian Cuisine in Swedesboro. Then ate leftovers the next night.

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
Canal Path, New Hope
Schuylkill River in the Rain, June 26, 2021

Schuylkill Timeline by Jonathan Laidacker— Mural Arts


Merril’s Movie Club: We re-watched the movie About Time (2013). It’s on Netflix. I’m not especially into romantic comedies, but this one is delightful. There’s time travel, family, and searching for love. I will watch almost anything with Bill Nighy, and the father-son scenes are especially touching and funny.

This is When

Monday Morning Musings:

Almost summer solstice. Reflections on the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. June 2021. ©️Merril D. Smith

This is when the world takes wing
in the turning of summer from our spring
when everything becomes lush and greenest green
the grass and leaves

sigh in gentle breeze and rustle in the storms
as cotton ball clouds flower to take new forms
and azure sky turns charcoal-hued
until another day spins by

Driftwood. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith,2021

another day older, children fly
out the door calling good-bye—
chicks and goslings grow so fast,
you hold the thoughts to make them last.

I saw this eastern box turtle about to crawl under the park gate. Look at her beautiful markings. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

And so, now the days grow slowly darker,
imperceptible at first, no marker
for the shadows cast, till autumn comes
and winter’s darkness cast

but in shadowed darkness the light never disappears—
despite our worries and our fears,
we make another turn round our glowing star–
do we measure it in miles or hours—the journey how far?

Seasons of love, freedom, and glory,
we celebrate each story
in the turning from spring to summer
when the world, despite everything, yet sings

in robin trill and mockingbird song
all night long, and all night long
the dreams drift from sea to shore,
where in the past our children played

and in some world, I think
perhaps still do.

Sunrise on the Delaware River

Saturday was Juneteenth. President Biden signed the law making it a federal holiday on Thursday. Fourteen Republicans voted against it. I found this post from several years ago by Henry Louis Gates on the history and relevance of Juneteenth.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. My husband Zoomed with older child as they worked on a woodworking project together. He’ll get together with younger child later this week. It was also the summer solstice, and it was a hot, but beautiful day. I got my husband this Father’s Day t-shirt to add to his collection of nerdy shirts, and we tasted two of the three red wines we still had left from my wine-tasting box. It looks like you have to click on some of the photos to see them properly.


Our anniversary is later in the week, and that’s the time of year we used to take our children to Ocean City, NJ for a summer vacation.

Rusted Traces

Photo by Glenn A. Buttkus, South Sound Minimalist Photos

Smudge the lines, then leave no trace
of words–erase the page,

till only thoughts remain
etched within the heart and mind

the rusted memories of
long-ago places, long-ago times–

you travel toward them, dreaming
of endless roads

of what might have been—

if

I apologize for being so behind on reading and commenting. I wasn’t going to participate at all this week because I have an academic history book chapter due, as well as other projects– but the poetry muse kept whispering. . . so, this is for two dVerse prompts. It’s a quadrille for Mish’s prompt using the word “smudge,” and it’s influenced by the photo above from Glenn A. Buttkus’s site “South Sound Minimalist Photos,” for Sanaa’s poetics prompt.

Green and Growing

Monday Morning Musings:

In June, my world is greening, growing
high, the sky in shades of blue and grey,
but showing a spark, a glow, some bit of light,
even on a cloudy day

before daybreak, the robin sings, brings
the pink of dawn, so bright, the sight
awakens geese and bees to hover on
some golden flowers, and in delight

the little ones scamper, goslings, rabbits, deer
hiding in the shade, wade through bushes for the blooms
of orange, yellow, red, violet, and green
growing, knowing all too soon

the colors fade,
but grandmothers with grey-haired wisdom weigh
and know how plants, pictures, stories grow
when nourished with love sway past grey, to stay

beyond June, in memory greening, growing,
like the mockingbird’s song all night and day
holding heartache into laughter flowing–and showing
a path to make everything okay.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Minari this week. We both liked this lovely, tender movie very much. It’s the story of a Korean American family trying to make their own American dream on a farm in Arkansas. The dream is really the husband’s, which causes some conflict in the marriage. Yuh-Jung Youn, who plays the grandmother, won an Oscar for her role. She plants minari, a leafy green plant often used in Korean dishes, and also creates a bond with her grandson, after a rocky start.

Thinking about the movie and seeing all the color in this growing season made me think of my mom. She didn’t know anything about planting, but she did teach my children how to see plants and how to paint them, and she loved flowers and color.

Some paintings by mom, Sylvia Schreiber.

We went to Vino and Vibes at William Heritage Winery with daughter and son-in-law, and we returned there on a Sunday for a members’ only event.

The Color of Language, the Language of Color

Monday Morning Musings:

“When a name for a color is absent from a language, it is usually blue. When a name for a color is indefinite, it is usually green. Ancient Hebrew, Welsh, Vietnamese, and, until recently, Japanese, lack a word for blue… The Icelandic word for blue and black is the same, one word that fits sea, lava, and raven.

It has been shown that the words for colors enter evolving languages in this order, nearly universally: black, white, and red, then yellow and green (in either order), with green covering blue until blue comes into itself. . .

Within every color lies a story, and stories are the binding agent of culture.”
–Ellen Meloy, quoted on Brainpickings

Sunrise over the Delaware River. West Deptford, NJ. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I celebrate color, all the hues
of dawning light to grey or blue,
the color of the sky, the gulls that flew
before the morning moon to sparkle bright–
I celebrate delight

in things we name from time and before—
the universe of letters, we’re each a book—and more–
composed of fiery stars and stellar song. And all along
from there to here and back again, there is light—
I celebrate its flight

from stars, bird-winged it soars, beating hearts
twinkling, illuminating the night, and each day
through shadows, there is a glow, a gate, a portal
through which time circles, not black or white—
I celebrate the spotlight

the lens through which I see. My faulty illusions—
still part of me. And everywhere I go, I see Crow—
who sees much more. So, while we count, label, and navigate,
some things remain unseen. But I dream and write—
I celebrate me, color, language, light.

My older child has been a fellow at the Atiq Maker Kollel for the past fifteen weeks. Yesterday they did a Zoom celebration of their art projects. You can find out more about their project here. In a discussion by one of the other participants, there was a mention of the world being created from letters and language, and even our bodies composed of language. I had read the Brainpickings article earlier in the week, which made me think of color and language, and the naming of things.


Memorial Day seems much more than a week ago, but we went to a Lobster and Chardonnay event at a local winery that afternoon. This past weekend, we tasted some of the wine (only got through the whites) from a blind tasting box—a Mother’s Day gift from our children.


Last night we watched the Kennedy Center Honors, which we both enjoyed. The honorees were Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Dick van Dyke, Midori, and Garth Brooks. I couldn’t name a Garth Brooks song, but I even enjoyed his segment because he was so moved by the performers. Because of Covid restrictions, the TV program combined clips of filmed indoor and outdoor performances instead of the usual formal theater production. Some of the dance numbers worked very well that way.

I’m linking this to dVerse, Open Link Night.