Such Stuff

Odilon Redon, “Flower Clouds”

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on”
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.

We soar past sleep,
stop to eat

the stars—swallow as they glide,
we abide

outside and within–
of such stuff, our dreams begin

to flutter-float, winging high
to fly upon some glittery boat

then with a quivery sigh,
they drift away, whispering goodbye.

A quadrille for dVerse. Lisa is hosting and asks us to use the word, “abide.”

Storms and Squirrels

Monday Morning Musings

Early morning drama clouds over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020
“If we're lucky ghosts and prayers
Are company, not enemies
I time travel straight back there
You were singing back to me”
--Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Between Dirt and Stars”

Without a dawn, this day doesn’t break
but drifts from darkness, to violet, then grey–
now beating on the windowpanes,
the rain silver-streaks in drumming beats

and we wait for November storms to rinse the month away.
Perhaps December will come in bright with holiday,
and corona will again define only the gaseous light
of incandescent sun and shimmery moon—come soon

this ending of our sorrow,
this longing for tomorrow–
still, I seize what happiness I can find
in river walks and talks with loved ones, unwind

the spools of memory in conversations of before–
do you remember, I say? And we discuss and laugh,
cry over photographs. We dine apart, with heavy hearts–
cranberry sauce red-berry bright, though unshaped, no art

to recreate what is not there. We’re plague-parted
and squirrels must wait, even as they congregate
on lawns and trees and parks. They scurry now
in autumnal flurry, readying for winter’s cold—

Autumn Squirrel ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

and we get older, I’ll not say old—not yet—
there’s more to say and do, to live without regret
for what once was. To hear the ghosts, to mourn,
to cry a storm—I toss a stone, torn

My stone-toss mourning ritual. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, November. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

between yesterday and now
but grateful for what I have.
I listen to the singer sing of love and loss
of memories and dreams—

tears may fall like rain in streams,
but love remains beyond timelines,
never ending, there within, we remember
November ends, on to December,

with candles and cheer, we’ll lighten the gloom,
Zoom our love soon with latkes and wine,
dine and eat doughnuts, cookies, and cake—
celebrate solstice, watch the stars align

in happier fortunes, we’ll look for hopeful signs
in the fury and scurrying of squirrels and storms,
the resting of ghosts in time’s circling arms,
heed and harken how the waves flow and recede,

and carry the seeds

that bloom on a future shore. Just like before—
there’s no more and more.

We have steady rain right now, though it’s warm for November. We may get thunderstorms though as a cold front comes in. Here in the US, we celebrated Thanksgiving this past Thursday, when it rained in the morning, and then was warm enough for many families to gather safely outside. We had a pre-Thanksgiving snack outside with one daughter. It was strange to not be together with everyone. My niece’s daughter and husband made our traditional cranberry squirrel, and the rest of us saw it only in photos. On the left is one from a previous Thanksgiving at my house, and the right is this year. It’s nice they have a similar gold-rimmed platter.

Merril’s Movie/Concert/TV Club: Last night, we streamed Mary Chapin Carpenter’s concert, “One Night Lonely,” performed live at Wolf Trap on November 27. She was alone on the stage, and there was no audience. I thought we were going to watch it for brunch, but it didn’t work out. I did make bagels though.

Homemade bagels.

We finished The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix), which I highly recommend. I was almost ready to watch three episodes the first night. I’ve heard chess sets are in great demand now because of the show.

Wild Magic

Sunrise pink clouds reflected on the Delaware River. ©️Merril D. Smith, November2020

I watch purple shadows dance, lingering
with cool kisses in the air
as the sun shines pink-petaled on blue–
listen, sky and water say,
and the music is in my head
as if honeyed light is fiddle and voice,
recalling dreams, and the way the moon sings
through a storm. Remember this, blushing clouds,
the soft secret smiles of the universe, sailing into
after. The wild magic surrounds you. Embrace it.

Today’s message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle–she, of course, sees me walking by the river.

Sisters

Straying, never staying still,
shimmering beacons, they will
sway away eternity,
shine for sailors, as they flee—
steadfast light in vast night sea
streaming from Orion—gone–
seven sisters, sail to dawn.

Pleiades, NASA, via Wikipedia Commons

For dVerse, Open Link Night, where Sanaa is hosting. I’ve missed the live meeting, but I got to talk to my sisters (and brother) via Zoom for Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating! This poem responds to Laura’s dVerse prompt on Tuesday:
“Write a poem using the PLEIADES FORM. . .Pick a ONE-WORD TITLE then write a SEVEN-LINE poem of SEVEN SYLLABLES whereby each line begins with the FIRST LETTER of your title.”

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.