Beautiful Things, Tiny and Huge

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Monday Morning Musings:

“And the dreamt-of is someone who did

Something we can’t quite put

Our finger on,

But which involved a life

We are always, we feel,

About to discover.”

–from Mark Strand, “Dreams”

“One hot afternoon during the era in which you’ve gotten yourself ridiculously tangled up with heroin, you will be riding the bus and thinking what a worthless piece of crap you are when a little girl will get on the bus holding the strings of two purple balloons. She’ll offer you one of the balloons, but you won’t take it because you believe you no longer have a right to such tiny beautiful things. You’re wrong. You do.”

― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

 

November comes

with days dimmed and dreary,

the time between bright azure skies

and crisp-apple air

and the frosted evergreens of December.

 

I search now for the golden glow–

and color where I can find it–

the tiny beautiful things

in the world around us,

and the tiny beautiful things

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I hold within my heart,

memories,

the touch of lover,

the soothing weight of sleeping infant soothed,

milk-breathed, dreaming–

 

my own dreams

range, joyous,

or disturbing,

a discovery, if only I don’t. . .

wake

 

to find it gone.

What was that thought,

that brilliant verse I dreamed?

That something,

that tiny beautiful thing?

 

Gone,

popped, a balloon-thought

a bubble floating off into space,

yet, a place within me

that I may find it again,

someday,

 

some nights

in November,

we eat comfort food,

cocooned in blankets

and we watch Netflix–and cats–

 

find the tiny beautiful things

that make our lives less tiny

more beautiful,

we hug our loved ones tightly

trying to protect them

 

(another shooting,

another one, we say

and shrug, tsk, another day

of more hate and evil rising–

into space–)

 

so, I long for a Star Trek world

where brave captains with moral compasses

that never flicker from True North

guide us with bravery and compassion,

never forgetting

 

who they are

and what must be done

to find the light

to sail us through the stars–

those tiny, huge, beautiful things–

 

to bring us home.

 

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Our shadows travel the ages–Dock Creek, Old City, Philadelphia

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I saw this rainbow sky over Philadelphia when we were returning home from my mom’s.

 

We saw Tiny Beautiful Things, a play based on Cheryl Strayed’s book, and adapted for stage by Nia Vardalos.  Our older daughter and her wife were in Philadelphia for a wedding, and they spent yesterday and last night with us. We watched an episode of Star Trek Voyager, and I said that I wished Captain Janeway was Earth’s leader right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sleep Shadows Said

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Moonrise over a South Jersey field, November.

 

The sleep shadows said

live life as a moon rising through the mist

with dreams raining from her

in honeyed-diamond language

shining with ifs.

 

~So, you recall the sweet luscious beat~

 

as we love and ache

and watch men lie and shoot.

Yet still the sky sings in light-music of purple-pink,

and it floats on our tongues

as the wind whispers why?

 

Another puente from the Oracle. It seems she knows the world is an especially confusing place these days. (And also that I had some very strange dreams just before waking today.) I didn’t take a screen shot because I planned to come back to the tiles. I thought I emailed the poem to myself, but it vanished. Mysterious world. Here’s the link to the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. 

I’m linking this to dVerse’s Open Link Night, which Lillian is hosting, and I’m getting in just before it closes.

 

Lovely Bright, The Sight

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Monday Morning Musings:

“How clear, how lovely bright,

How beautiful to sight

Those beams of morning play. . .

 

Ensanquining the skies

How heavily it dies. . .

How hopeless under ground

Falls the remorseful day.”

–from A.E. Houseman, “How Clear, How Lovely Bright”

 

 

The line, the flow

the glow

of life, scattering

 

leaves, the gathering of nuts and seeds

(the sky bleeds)

reflecting the spattering

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of wounds, the broken glass

before the gas

and rustlings

 

of war and wind

the leaves are thinned,

but hear them crunch and crackle

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as squirrels scamper and play

in the fading light of autumn day

and the birds fly—geese and grackle—

and hawks and vultures soar

before the train comes, roars

down the tracks

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taking me somewhere—

up and down, stairs

we go, into the wind,

 

the boat sails

and what tales

might it have, of rivers or sea?

Delaware River from Patco train heading to Philadelphia

Delaware River from Patco train heading to Philadelphia

And is there a lighthouse, with ghostly

glowing and horn blowing, or mostly

sunny skies?

 

Time must sail, too

and we a sometime crew

walk through history

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18th Century garden on site of Benjamin Rush’s House, Philadelphia

how can it be otherwise,

the lows and highs

of our own lives, the mystery

 

of others–we see a groom and bride

and I hope they lovingly glide

into a life of love and joy

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A wedding party taking photos at “my willow” at Dock Creek, Old City, Philadelphia

(Pause, we drink coffee and wine

stop for a time—

but time is coy)

and autumn comes cold and dark

but there is beauty, even if it’s stark—

see the moon rise over fields stripped of grain

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Moonrise over a South Jersey field, November.

glowing, humming—this autumn sky

and the clouds and time

the time before the rain, snow, the train

 

of time. The movie train that circles

through the frozen world, almost eternal

but the cost

 

a cautionary tale

of where we might sail

and is our world already lost?

 

Crow calls

the remorseful day falls

setting underground

 

in fiery ball, unheeding

the world goes on, speeding

and we spellbound.

 

But I don’t celebrate bleeding—

or ferocious gods, the leaders leading

into destruction–

 

let poetry fly

through vast haunted eternity, die

the war-fever. Find a new function

 

for our minds and hearts

in words of love, kindness, and arts

that soar with feathered wings–

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how clear, how lovely bright

the sight

of what could be, of hope that sings

 

as the walls tumble down.

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This was a week of elections, cat dental surgery, the anniversary of Kristallnaught (November 9, 1938), and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. In the U.S. today is Veteran’s Day. It was formerly Armistice Day, but of course, war has not ended. I respect all who have served and honor all those who have given their lives in serving their country. While someone like Hitler had to be stopped, it would be better if people did not let such people gain power.

 

For Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Snowpiercer, a 2014 movie we had never seen, but since we recently saw Parasite, and it is an earlier movie by the same director, Bong Joon-ho, we decided to watch it. It’s on Netflix. This one’s in English, and it’s much more of an action movie than I would normally see. Like Parasite, the movie covers the issues of class and climate,and there was definitely much to think about. Overall, we both liked it. There is also fighting and bloody scenes though, so be forewarned. We saw Lighthouse in the theater. It’s also in English. I know, strange, right?  (Don’t worry, we’re still watching Black Spot, so reading subtitles there.).  Great acting, beautiful black and white cinematography. Very strange, surrealistic movie of two lighthouse keepers on an isolated island. Some of the dialogue is taken from Melville and lighthouse keepers’ diaries. It’s somewhat similar in style to his previous movie, The Witch.

 

 

 

The Scent of the Past

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Monday Morning Musings:

“We sit down

in the smell of the past

and rise in a light

that is already leaving.”

From Rita Dove, “November for Beginners”

“Wars, plagues, names upon tombs tell us only what happened. But history lies in the cracks between.”

― Sarah Blake, The Guest Book

 

The wind roars, a dragon

blowing in the season

 

overnight the temperature drops

and there’s a reason

 

I’m baking and cooking

easing in

this time of melancholy and light.

 

The leaves glow golden

in the slanted light of dimming days

 

 

and color pops, unrestrained,

blazing, in the rays

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of setting sun.

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Here come ghosts

and memories, the dead

Day of the Dead at Love Park

William Penn looking down at the Day of the Dead display at Love Park, Philadelphia

 

remembered in joy and sorrow

decorations, graves, a thread

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of history, the moments in-between

the things we love, the times we dread

 

the smell of the past,

 

comes back to haunt us–

my mother says, do you smell that

 

when nothing is in the air

and goes on to chat—

 

(I open window and door)

we discuss dogs, a cat

 

and this is where we’re at,

 

now, daughter and I make candles

smelling scents for future burning

but is it also, perhaps,

for a past we’re yearning

 

in scents of autumn and Christmas

as the season is turning

 

we talk and sip our wine.

 

 

Swirl, sniff, taste,

discuss ghosts and dreams,

 

the feelings of houses

our moods, of what seems

 

to be real or not—

(I watch how the light streams

 

then dims.)

Vintage Wine Bar, Philadelphia

Vintage Wine Bar, Philadelphia

The clocks turned back,

but we’re the ones that change,

 

not time. It moves on,

there’s no real exchange

 

hours lost or gained,

yet memories remain, sometimes disarranged

 

but triggered by this or that, perhaps a scent.

 

I dream of cooking beans,

the refrain, they need long simmering

 

add some water the dream people say

and in my mind some glimmering–

 

this is my life and words

with long slow cooking, simmering

 

and sometimes shimmering

 

through the cracks

the scents of cinnamon and spice, autumn

 

the leaves glow and fall

the ghosts often forgotten

 

wander, here and there

as the light dims

 

but returns—in time.

 

Merril’s Movie Club–we watched It on Halloween, as the wind began to howl. We saw Pain and Glory, Almodovar’s latest. Husband and I both liked it–(but liked Parasite more)–you probably know if you like this kind of thing, Banderas as Almodovar remembering his life, perhaps more pain than glory at times. Trailer here.  We also started watching a French series on Netflix, Black Spot (definitely not translated from the French title Zone Blanche) about strange goings on in a French town. We like to keep our viewing international.  😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here and There and Here

Willow at Dock Creek, October 2019

Monday Morning Musings:

“All I know

Is you are there

You are there

And I am here.

–Irene Sankoff and David Heine, “I am Here,” from Come From Away

 

“Suddenly there’s nothing in between me and the sky”

Irene Sankoff and David Heine, “Me and the Sky,” from Come From Away

 

“Think of it as a ghost play; the actor’s older bodies are haunting these thirteen-year-old characters.”

Clare Barron on her play, Dance Nation

 

“Are you here?” my mother asks

as I, involved in some ordinary task

stand just beyond her sight.

 

The boundaries between mist and light

time and dreams, seems porous, slight

and she drifts, and we drift again and again

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Reflections in a rain puddle, Philadelphia

sunshine, then rain

“Here,” says the woman in the book

“Here,” I say, “Look.”

 

The twilight and dawn

the days that falter, end with a song

look at them fly

nothing between them and the sky

and we drink wine, talk of movies and why

they did this or that—it’s a metaphor

I say, and we laugh, remember more

to discuss, remember the time when it was just us

or when we were thirteen–

 

remember how life seemed?

All emotions, and the dreams?

Emotions now more settled, but more stress—

I digress.

Time right now to sit in gardens bright

to catch autumn’s glowing light

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rain and sunshine, tears, delight

I was there once, now I’m here in sight–

of what? I’m not certain, but you are here

together we’re here,

and there’s magic in theater–and deer

and nature, magic in each day’s dawning

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watching the sun rise, yawning

as it sets, and the cats that sleep, never fawning

honest with their desire

for food and love, we’re the suppliers

but we get it back, their love doesn’t expire

no ghosts in their bodies, at least that I see

 

they can just be–

and sometimes so can we—

here together,

 

I am here,

you are here,

nothing between us and sky–

in my dreams, we fly.

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We actually saw two shows this week: Come From Away and Dance Nation. Come from Away is heartwarming without being cloying. It’s about people doing good. It’s about the town in Newfoundland that takes in flights following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. It’s poignant, but also very funny at times. The staging is wonderful, and we saw it in the beautiful Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Dance Nation is about a competitive dance team of middle school kids, but it’s also a memory play, as we see glimpses of the girls (and one boy’s) older selves. All the actors are adults. It’s laugh out loud funny at times, but it also makes you want to cheer. There’s a wonderful speech on female empowerment.

And for Merril’s Movie Club members—we finally got to the movies and saw Parasite. Yes, of course it has subtitles. It’s Korean. It’s about class and metaphors, and it’s excellent, but you know, it’s a Merril movie. 😉 Here’s the trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Questions

Monday Morning Musings:

“Autumn poses the question we all have to live with: How to hold on to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying. How to see the world as it is, yet find light within that truth.”

–Pico Iyler, Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells, quoted in Brainpickings

 

 

In the transitional spaces

of this liminal season,

sun and moon both hold their places

easing in

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Morning moon over the river.

the days of swoops and shifts

where sunshine fires gold and red

and nature bewitches with magic gifts–

deer and birds, the leaves unshed

to glow in sunshine, that perfect light

too soon hidden behind the grey

of clouds, and we trudge but fight

the winter’s-coming-wind. “Stay!”

we say to sunshine and golden glow

as we struggle through “the wind tunnel of death”

in rush hour city streets, go with the flow,

see, not so bad, we catch our breath

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and onward go, sunshine, then rain

and I work, cook, bake, turn on the heat

to be certain it works, for frigid air comes again

and soon winter winds will roar, and we’ll retreat

not wanting to venture out so long or often

but yet we’ll have to carry on, do what we must

and with blankets, soup, and candles, soften

the cold (and in the dimness hide the dust).

 

But for now, we walk and celebrate

the accomplishments, good weather, and walk

through parks, a restaurant, a concert—a date

I suppose, we listen to the other couples talk

Park in Collingswood, NJ, Merril D. Smith, 2019

at other tables and speculate

about their lives. Then we move on—

the concert late into the night, but great

and soon comes another dawn

and more rain. A grey afternoon

my mom nods off to the TV

I make her laugh as I dance to a tune–

Que sera, what will be, will be,

 

not what we hear, but inevitably

transition lead to something new

leaves fall, rivers flow to the sea,

winter grey and white follows from autumn blue,

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but now we watch a French demon on our screen

drink wine and gasp at horror in a world not real

enjoy the make-believe land of the unseen

even as we long for something ideal, feel

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unmoored in this world, waiting for disaster

but finding moments of joy to savor

wanting some to slow, some to move faster—

what is the flavor

 

the scent, of time passing and flowing?

Cinnamon, nutmeg, lilacs, and rain

petrichor rising, snow falling, and fires blowing

smoke into the air—all these over and over again–

as cats play hide and seek,

and children now grown send love in photos,

and each week brings something good or bleak—

and so it goes.

 

In the liminal spaces

of this liminal season,

the moon hums, traces

her course, she has a reason

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even if we don’t know why,

(what questions to ask, the answers unknown)

but hush,  hear that sigh?

Listen closely, the moon’s lullaby.

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It’s been a crazy week with emotions blowing like the crazy winds. One deadline met, another still to go. We went to a concert at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, David Bromberg and Los Lobos. My husband joked that you had to be over 50 to get in–but wow–those musicians can play! We walked from the theater to Indiya restaurant and then back. We’re watching a horror show on Netflix called Marianne. One episode to go. It definitely made me jump a few times. It’s in French. Sorry, movie club fans, that’s the best I can do right now. I hope to get to the movies soon.

 

The Road Taken and Not: Tanka

This is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, using synonyms for destination and guide.

This is also for Mish’s dVerse prompt to write a poem based on one of Sharon Knight’s wonderful photos.

 

experts give advice–

signposts along bumpy roads

stretch to tomorrow

 

infinite unknown pathways

curve between past and future

 

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“unincorporated” by Sharon Knight, used with permission from https://sunearthsky.com/