The Unimaginable Magic

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is suffering too terrible to name

You hold your child as tight as you can

And push away the unimaginable. . .

 

There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is a grace too powerful to name. . .

 

It’s quiet uptown”

-Lin Manuel Miranda, “It’s Quiet Uptown,” Hamilton

 

“The atoms that huddled for a cosmic blink around the shadow of a self will return to the seas that made us.

What will survive of us are shoreless seeds and stardust.”

–from Maria Popova, Figuring.

 

 

 No human voices break the silence,

but robins and mockingbirds sing, a woodpecker pecks,

crows caw wise warnings, geese honk greetings

I hear a whoosh above and a shadow flits before me, gone

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my own shadow remains, long-legged, invincible goddess–

if only,

she could push away the unimaginable,

the suffering, the families who will never hear a familiar voice.

She can’t. I can only I look for beauty and share

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the way sunbeams sift through early morning clouds,

the astounding variety of flowers in a multiplicity of hues,

rainbows revealed in sprinkler sprays, the sight of a deer family

the charcoal splendor of thunderclouds, the intense blue of the cloudless sky,

color and light, physics and magic, charm and fury—

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life itself, cycling love and loss,

we never imagine, don’t expect

plagues, freak accidents, revolutions—

we push away these thoughts

because to do otherwise, we could not go on

 

and on, we go,

craving life, survival

seeds of hope sprouting in unlikely conditions

growing, reaching for light,

for grace

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The tenacity of plants. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, July 2020. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

perhaps unimagined,

silence can be comfortable;

it can be lonely, too–

equal and opposite reactions,

we’re pushed and pulled

 

from the womb to ashes and dust

we ebb and flow

like the tides of river and sea

and yet traces of us survive forever

in shoreless seeds and stardust—

 

this is the unimaginable magic of the universe—

that in the sparkle of light on water

the past and future exist together,

holding love, loss

and hope.

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Delaware River

 

Merril’s Movie/Theater Club: We watched the Taiwanese movie A Sun (2019, Netflix). I don’t know if it’s the same in Mandarin, but in English, the title plays on the words sun and son. The movie is about family dysfunction and tragedy; the favored golden son who is working towards entering medical school and the younger son who predictably ends up in juvenile detention. But each member of the family has secrets and depths. After a tragedy, the family dynamics change. Though this movie is perhaps a bit too long, the acting is excellent, and the cinematography is beautiful.

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Whitall House with a tree decorated for the Fourth of July. Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

We celebrated Independence Day, the Fourth of July by watching Hamilton (Disney+). I don’t know if this is available outside the U.S. I subscribed to Disney+  for a month just for this, which was a bit annoying, but I don’t plan to keep it, since there’s not much else I’m interested in on that platform. Still, at $7 and change, it’s worth it. We’d pay more for a movie ticket at a theater. This film is compiled from two performances of the original Broadway cast production, but it includes camera angles that you would never see from sitting in the theater. I’ve discussed Hamilton before. Believe all the hype, it really is a wonderful show, and most likely I’ll watch it again while I can.

The excerpted lyrics above are about after Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza’s son Philip is killed in a duel. Alexander and Eliza have been estranged, but in this aftermath of their personal tragedy, they grow close again. Life goes on in the midst of revolutions and tragedies—people fall in love, babies are born, children die. History is never simply about battles and elections.

We ate and drank a glass to freedom (that’s a glass of sangria, banana chocolate chip cake with cream cheese frosting) Ricky was not interested in the first act, but enjoyed the second half. 😏

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate. . .but

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Sunrise, Pitman Golf Course, June 2020

 

Celebrate,

but listen–

not to the naked fool.

 

Drink,

but not the dark brews

of pseudo-science and demagogues.

 

Celebrate and drink 

in the dazzling beauty of sky, sea, and flowers

that bloom and dance in the breeze.

 

Listen for good,

for healing and laughter,

for all the ifs

 

time offers

 

a window open to always,

never, and ever after

reflected in the glass,

 

past and future

in a brilliant cloud,

ghosts

 

leaving a trace in the air,

like perfume, I breathe in

the scent of caramel and coffee

 

that floats,

like a smile of, for

eternity.

 

My message from the Oracle. She does love the Puente form, even though she likes to play with it.

It’s Independence Day here in the U.S., the fourth of July, when we celebrate the anniversary of when the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Oracle is obviously disgusted with the display the current and supremely ignorant inhabitant of the White House decided to put on last night, where he played to the basest of his base.

 

Up and Down

© 2020 Frank J. Tassone

 

We stand on a precipice, nation and world. Fissured by plague and threats to democracy, we are faltering, close to tumbling into an abyss. Is this the beginning of the end? Or merely a ripple in the waves of time? I leave the angry and weary voices to walk, looking for beauty in the bright colors around me. A chipmunk scurries by. Deer shyly graze, turkeys strut through the long grass, and blackbirds give a trilling chink as they fly overhead.

I watch the sun rising over the river, making it sparkle. It know it’s physics, but I can also see the magic. We need both.

 

bare branches turn green,

brown leaves fall into river–

past floats to future

 

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©️Merril D. Smith 2020

A Haibun for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday Haibun prompt, using Frank Tassone’s photo at the top for inspiration, and my photo at the end.

 

 

 

Looking at Yesterday, Seeing Tomorrow

Monday Morning Musings:

“Sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness and tears.”

–from Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, “Sunrise, Sunset,” Fiddler on the Roof (1964)

After thousands of sunrises and sunsets

the years fly quickly,

faster now, summer turns to autumn,

spring tears fall and shoots appear–

winter snow glitters on our heads.

 

Once I was a turtle,

slowly walking across a road

I hid my head from others

though I showed off my lovely carapace,

then you took me from my shell

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and brought me into the world of people.

I showed you the world of books and art,

introduced you to exotic turtle food

and we played and burrowed deep,

into our blanket nest.

 

Our children were fawns

long-legged, shy, and fey,

until their camouflaging spots faded,

and then they sang the songs of birds

and gathered the wisdom of owls

 

tossing words, pitching music, and beaming light

into the world–

sometimes it was reflected back

in all the colors of the universe,

bringing love.

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And now?

The water calls to me in rivers, streams, and oceans,

I sometimes carry the heavy weight of my shell,

but you share the burden,

and when I look at my reflection,

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I see worlds beyond worlds–

the absurdity of the upside-down,

the glowing rays of a double sun

the promise of all the ifs,

and the hope in infinite possibilities stretching to forever.

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I do not look to yesterday but walk into the future.

 

We celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary a few days ago, but we’ve known each other since ninth grade. To celebrate, we went to Ocean City, NJ and walked on the beach for a couple of hours in the morning, avoiding people as best we could. Then later we went on our first real outing since March. We went to a winery for our anniversary dinner, where we sat outside physically distanced from the other patrons, and after a brief thunderstorm, we enjoyed wine, pizza, and gelato. I think we were both a bit giddy to be out. I put my mask back on whenever our masked server came to the table.

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Merril’s Movie Club: Back to more obscure Merril films. Both are on Netflix. We watched See You Yesterday, which we both really liked. All of the acting is excellent, especially the two engaging leads who portray brilliant Black teens hoping to get scholarships to good universities—a future. But this is very much a Black Lives Matter film, and they attempt to change the past. Playing on the theme, Michael J. Fox has a cameo appearance.

We also watched Bulbul, an Indian horror film—though it’s not a jump out of your seat horror. It’s more of a dark fable with beautiful cinematography.  It deals with a child bride and her life as an adult in her husband’s household, where her best friend is her brother-in-law. There is a tale of a demon/goddess who lives in the trees and swoops down to attack men at night. The story is retold throughout the movie. We both liked it, though I think I liked it more than my husband did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shifted Sands

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Ocean City, NJ June 2020

 

Great women

often forgotten,

and their marks

tide-shifted

till their footprints are erased–

still their ghosts whisper

 

murmuring

with knowledge we’ve lost,

unseen and

swept away,

their hidden figures buried

in the sands of time.

 

A double shadorma  for Colleen’s tanka Tuesday challenge. Pat R.’s theme asked us to consider Longfellow’s “Psalm of Life” poem and/or use it as a source of found poetry. Well, you can see what that poem does to me. 😏

In the Ever and After

 

ferocious eternity, a blush away

in a brilliant cloud—

 

listening for home,

I soar in search of time,

 

and if

I find, hear

 

the cosmos

in full-flowered rhapsody,

 

it is always a world

with dream language

 

like glass

and ocean, light-filled

 

ascending

with a thousand laughing wings

 

(wake, listen)

 

to heal the tiny tears

of the universe

 

in the ever

and the after

 

where magic lingers,

a ghost in the night.

 

It’s Saturday, and so, I consulted the Oracle. She gave me this poem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishes

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From the sea, she walks ashore, seal-skin slips

from her body–she stands now unadorned–

shimmering hair unbound and flowing,

dulse-laced and glowing, she whips

it ‘round like armor. Girded thus, the sea foresworn

yet she lingers, soul unsure, not quite captured

by the sunlight, body gleaming, hair sheened by salt-sea blowing,

directed then by lover’s shouts, she turns, enraptured.

 

But rapture does not last, not when the sea sighs and calls

in waves that beckon with infinite ebbs and flows

with subaqueous whispers from afar–

till finally, she must flee the confining walls,

let loose her hair and shed her clothes

to rush upon the sea-kissed sand,

fur-pelt in hand, she makes one wish upon a star,

and embraces the sea, abandons land.

 

For De’s prompt at dVerse on mermaids and selkies. I rewrote a poem I did a while ago for one of Jane’s prompts and added a second stanza. I kept the rhyme scheme, but didn’t quite follow the rest for a san san poem. So, here goes—no minimalism here, this one’s unabashedly romantic.

 

 

 

 

 

Persistence Glows

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After years of archival research, chapters drafted and re-drafted, grad school extensions, and the birth of my first daughter, I finally received my Ph.D. in American History. My husband, father, and toddler daughter watched me receive my degree in a small January ceremony. I was proud of my accomplishment, but I think my father may have been prouder.

 

Seeds drift and flutter,

fields and cracks fill with flowers–

the glow of persistence

 

 

 

 

A Haibun for dVerse, where Lillian asks us to write about one shining moment.  Something I just noticed–my dad never wore ties, but he wore one for this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen, Hear Them

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings: 

“Hills, the trees, sunrise and sunset — the lake the moon and the stars / summer clouds — the poets have been right in these centuries… even in its astounding imperfection this earth of ours is magnificent.”—Lorraine Hansberry, quoted in Imani Perry, Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry

 

Listen

to mockingbirds,

and robins, crows, and jays

cacophony or harmony,

hear them

 

rustle

in verdant fields

rain-jeweled, and glistening,

a turtle in painted armor

stands still

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Turtle that I rescued from the middle of the street.

aware

that danger comes

rolling like thunder clouds,

flowing like an ancient river,

blue-hued,

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Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield Park

constant

the earth revolves,

frost gives way to sunshine

patriots and the times that try–

but breathe

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deeply

sigh, but feel

sun-warmth, as shadows grow

light and darkness work together

always

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Lily shadows on our shed.

listen

in verdant fields

frost gives way to sunshine

flowing like an ancient river,

always

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I was having a difficult time musing about the week of that began with beautiful sunny days and went to hot, humid, thunderstorms, a week that saw our corrupt and ineffectual leader-in-title-only continue to lie, spew venom, and become ever more authoritarian. On the plus side, I was happy to see all the coverage of Juneteenth, and nature does soothe.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. One daughter sent a book of brain-teasing puzzles to my husband, and the other delivered us dinner and beer (for my husband), which we ate while visiting with them via Zoom. I baked my husband’s favorite cookies, Welsh cookies, which are actually cooked like pancakes, not baked in the oven.

 

So, I consulted the Oracle for some inspiration and came up with this garland cinquain, except that for the last stanza I reversed the order of lines 3 and 4.

Merril’s Movie/Theater Club: We watched the movie Miss Juneteenth on Juneteenth. (available for a slight rental fee on several streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime). A debut film that has excellent performances. The story involves a Juneteenth pageant, but the theme of a parent wanting a better life for her child is universal. We also watched Ann, a one-woman play about the late former governor of Texas, Ann Richards, written and performed by Holland Taylor. It was excellent! In the U.S., you may be able to still see it on Great Performances online or possibly On Demand.