The Color of Truth

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Low tide, blue mood. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

Monday Morning  Afternoon Musings:

The fiddler’s notes float

through the village as he stands,

one foot on the roof, balancing

life and death– all the celebrations between,

colored by love and loss–

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Marc Chagall, “The Fiddler,” 1912

 

blue moon, blood moon, silver moon

sighs and whispers

in a thousand tongues, but

a million ears do not listen–

her voice joins the fiddle notes

 

that hum in the background—

do you hear it?

Crow calls a warning,

heed the past,

beware the future

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Crow caws from the chimney of the Whithall House, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ

 

the red sky of morning

hinting of the storm ahead

the indigo and grey-shadowed ripples

lighten to azure as the sun rises—

colored by time, tides, and perception,

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Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

our expectations of what is real,

changed not always by what is there,

but what we are told–

there is no plague, there is no famine,

the leader loves his people

 

(like a wolf loves a lamb), perhaps

 I make connections

between what is, what was, and

what might be

when there is no connection—

 

the sky is simply red,

like the summer flowers

an intensity of the dying season—

verdant woods, vibrant blooms

against the bluest sky,

 

black birds flock in murmurations

telling the truth

that life goes on

in cycles of pain, gain,

the black and blue that fades, the blood red

 

we drink, fruit of the vine

sun-ripened, bursting with intensity

we listen, laugh, love

the ones we’re with, love others from afar

in all the colors we see

 

beauty, life

buzzing

drifting

soaring high

with feathered hope, even if it falls,

 

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we may see the reflection–

upside-down the world still glows

we swim toward the light

float amid clouds,

watch azure turn violet, indigo, midnight blue,

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Cloud Reflections on the Delaware River at West Deptford, NJ ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

 

 

and then, and still,

an apricot glow appears above the horizon,

a blush of pink spreads across the east,

our pale blue dot rolls on,

the colors of truth, immutable, forever for this world.

 

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Mr. Jones (2019). I don’t think this one made it to theaters near us before the pandemic; we watched it on Amazon Prime (slight fee). It’s probably available on other streaming platforms, as well. My husband and I both enjoyed this one very much. It stars James Norton as Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, who tried to tell the world about Stalin in the 1930s, even as others were covering it up. Supposedly, he and his story were the inspiration for George Orwell’s Animal Farm, though that doesn’t really add much to the story.

This week has been packed with wild stories by you-know-who and his followers. Demon sex, aliens, and “thoughts” of rescheduling the election. . . If this took place in a movie, it would be considered too ridiculous.

The Oracle and the world seem full of color right now, but I find connections in odd places. Before watching the movie, I listened to an interview with Welsh actor Matthew Rhys. I don’t have HBO, where he is now starring in a new version of Perry Mason, but I loved The Americans. On that show, he played a Russian spy posing as an American. I was always struck by the extra layer of having a Welsh actor in the role, and he did mention that in the interview. So, for me, there were connections in this interview and movie about Welsh men, truth, lies, deception, Russia, and governments.

Our younger daughter—sommelier in training—did a virtual wine tasting with us on Friday night. Her husband was there for the beginning, but was taking care of pets during the screen shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backstories

Monday Morning Musings:

“Music, when soft voices die,

Vibrates in the memory—”

Percy Bysshe Shelley

“Yesterday, today and tomorrow are not consecutive, they are connected in a never-ending circle. Everything is connected.”— The Stranger, Dark (Netflix series)

 

I listen to the silent sounds,

a voice inside my head

remembered phrases—and the laugh—

forever gone

that echoes without reverberation

 

save within.

Yet without,

the birds call and sing the melodies

I cannot sing

with human voice, nor fly

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to treetops, or into clouds.

Where do they go?

What do they think

of the shadow’s encroachment?

Is it an annoyance

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to be interrupted

or more? Are we intruders remembered,

discussed?  I watch the crows gather and caw,

“One for sorrow, two for mirth,”

they follow me, it seems

exhorting

with strident calls—

beware or remember?

What am I to do?

And so, I listen, watch, write

 

of  yesterday—and tomorrow.

We walk through corridors,

where the past sits behind locked doors.

Clothing, furniture, paintings—so many paintings!

Scenes frozen in time

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upon a canvas,

the artist looked, remembering,

translating memories into color and form

each brushstroke, a touch from the past,

the whole, a memorial

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Work in Progress. An artist working on a mural. We got lost, and I took this photo through the windshield while my husband was trying to figure out where to go.

 

to what was—

this life now reduced to her things.

We travel over bridges, rising

over a river of ghosts

traveling–

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Low tide, the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, July 2020. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

 

through time and tides, 

we go about our lives,

carrying on our daily routines

cooking, cleaning, working, loving

when we can

we erase some backstories,

cherish others–

some will never be known.

Like birds, they’ve flown into the clouds,

drifted away, gone

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never to be seen again,

but we may find a trace, a feather

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Feather–could it be a turkey feather?

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This turkey was walking back and forth around the front of this car–pecking at it.

of what was

like pentimento, the traces of a laugh

left in the paintings’ vivid hues.

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One of my mom’s paintings, title and date unknown.

 

My siblings and I have been paying for a storage unit for my mom’s things. Because she died in April—of Covid 19-related complications during the worst of the pandemic in this area, we could not be with her or pack up her belongings. For some reason, movers were allowed in, and all of her things were packed up and put in the storage unit my sister rented. So, masked and keeping physical distance, we’ve emptied the storage space, an emotional experience. We have not yet held a real memorial for her.

 

Merril’s Movie Club: No movies this week. We finished Dark, a three-season German series on Netflix, which my husband and I both really liked, even though we were totally confused. If you keep with it, the very last episode does explain and tie things up. We started watching The Twelve, a new Belgian series on Netflix, which explores the backstories of the jurors and the people involved in a murder case—actually two different murder cases because a woman is accused of killing her best friend many years before and her child more recently. We’re about halfway through it, and we both like it, and it has a wondering who committed the crime(s).

Also, I read The Women of the Copper Country, a historical novel by Mary Doria Russell. Her books are all well-researched, but she is also an excellent writer with a great ear for dialog and character development. I’ve enjoyed all of her books. This one focused on the copper mines in upper Michigan and the strike in 1913, led largely by the women there. I knew nothing about these mines or the strike, and yet it also seems very relevant. I’m able to get books from the library now in a contactless system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 😏

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.”

–Rene Magritte

“Tell all the truth, but tell it slant—”

Emily Dickinson

Rain Garden, West Deptford Public Library

A portal beneath the water’s surface?

What lies beneath the surface–

the secrets and mysteries we carry within

our hearts and minds,

many layered labyrinths

we follow the breadcrumbs

 

(when we’re able)

 

or, wander aimlessly–

well, it can be a pleasant journey–

but what will happen?

Every story has a mystery—

truth and fiction both.

 

Between the beats of morning’s song

a small red bird is illuminated

against charcoal clouds it journeys on

then it disappears into the green canopy

gone to me,

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but I am just a bit player,

in his story,

and he is the same in mine,

a chance encounter with flyby beauty,

remembered for a time

 

as I ponder the mystery

of beating hearts

and those at rest,

listen for the harmony

that is no longer there—or is it

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all of a part?– life and love–

and the stardust drifting from space

to course through our veins.

The universe is full of secrets

that may devour you–

 

or surround you with magic—

either way, it remains a mystery

we don’t know what will happen

until it does—

and then we move on–

 

or we don’t,

perhaps wondering,

what happens next?

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New masks

 

Today is Memorial Day here in the U.S. This holiday honors the memory of those who died in our various wars. Yesterday, the New York Times posted a frontpage memorial to those who have died in the current pandemic here in the U.S.—nearly 100,000 lost and counting. Among them, my mother, as well as the loved ones of some of you reading this. Here’s the interactive link.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched four movies this week, and it struck me that idea that every story has a mystery (not a unique or profound thought, I know, but you work with you have, right?).  Frantz and The Half of It were the best of the four.

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Our movie-watching buddy.

Frantz (2016) is such a Merril movie, that I wonder how we missed it. I’ve seen both the leads in other movies since, and they are excellent, especially Paula Beer, who plays a young German woman whose fiancé was killed in battle during WWI. A French veteran appears in her town, where she lives with her fiancé’s parents. She sees him laying flowers on the grave. Eventually, they meet, and he explains he was her fiancé’s friend from when he studied in Paris. The movie is a low-key anti-war film. It’s mostly in black and white, but with some color scenes, and it’s in French and German. It’s on Amazon.

The Half of It (2020) is a new Netflix film. It’s a spin of Cyrano, with an Asian-American female self-described high school nerd in the Cyrano role. So, it’s also a coming of age story with a lesbian subtext. It’s sweet and funny, with some philosophical musings by the main character. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

Sweetheart (2019) is also on Netflix. It also is a take on a familiar trope—the person shipwrecked and stranded on a deserted island. In this case, the shipwrecked person is a woman, and the island is not exactly deserted—because there’s a monster. Kiersey Clemons is excellent, and the movie was enjoyable, though I wouldn’t say it was great.

Photograph (2019). On Amazon. We watched while we ate my homemade naan and chana masala. I had high hopes for this one because we enjoyed the director’s previous film, The Lunchbox, but this one was only OK. It’s like they had an idea for a movie, but then didn’t know what to do with it. A street photographer in Mumbai is being pressured by his grandmother back in their village to get married. He sends her a photograph he took, and then convinces the woman in the photo to pretend to be his girlfriend.

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Homemade Naan

 

 

 

 

Sailing Through Time

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Redon, “Barque Mystique”

 

In a dream,

I sailed the night sky,

swallowed the music of the stars,

merged with them, glowing incandescent,

red shifting, drifting through time and beyond–

 

and when I woke,

I took your hand. We opened a door

together, began a new life,

of hopes, fears, love, tears–

ebbing, flowing, drifting through time–and beyond.

 

For  Anmol’s prompt on dVerse, “Portals,”  

I’m using this Redon painting again because it fits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half-Revealed and Half-Concealed

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A whole world in a puddle.

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“For words, like Nature, half reveal

And half conceal the Soul within.”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 5”

 

“Now it was only the rivers

that spoke of the rivers,

and only the wind that spoke of its bees,

 

while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees

continued to move toward their fruit.”

–Jane Hirshfield, “On the Fifth Day” 

 

How will we remember these days

of grief and sorrow for our world–

the facts of buds on trees

and rivers that keep on flowing

concealing and revealing what lies beneath

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in the upside-down world

where we gaze at transitory beauty

and fall, topsy-turvy

into its depths

as spring dances, mercurial,

 

 

swiftly fleeting,

yet heralding—the facts—

yellow-green wisps turn darker

the world gets hotter,

and trees reach up

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to light,

and down to darkness

half-revealed,

half-concealed

thoughts glimmer

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like tears

until they drop

salty pearls

leaving an alluvial trail

fertile with memories

 

and I think of this–and time

as I listen to words,

singularity, time and space,

the black hole left

in an absence

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even as we remember

the time before we are born

when my mother meets my father

and holds my older brother on her lap.

And she is young, old, older, gone. . .

.

. . .and here.

 

On Friday night, we visited with our daughters via Zoom. This Friday Shabbat dinner has become a new ritual. We ate soup and rolls, the gift of friends, sustaining us from a distance. I baked the cookies we call Mommy Cookies because they are my favorite. My mom loved them, too, and I used to bring her some.

I watched most of “The Universe in Verse,” which was live-streamed on Saturday just before we had our own family Zoom memorial session for my mother. It was a somewhat surreal experience marked by technical problems, non-sequiturs, and some memories of my mom that we shared.

We weren’t the only ones with technical difficulties. I tried to watch the Sonheim’s 90th birthday celebration last night, but I gave up. Apparently, it did go on, over an hour later that the scheduled 8 PM start.

We finished watched Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame) on Netflix, which I highly recommend if you want something unique. I really liked it.  It’s a Japanese-British production that is difficult to describe. A Japanese detective is looking for his criminal brother in England. The detective’s daughter joins them. It is a crime show and a family drama. There is romance, and action scenes, and there are other characters who become important and endearing. I wasn’t sure about it after the first episode, but I really did get caught up in this show.

 

 

 

 

 

The Heart’s Reflections, Weighed

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Geese practicing social distancing on the Delaware River.

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“Neither the spider has planned for the leaf nor the leaf for the spider — and yet there they are, an accidental pendulum propelled by the same forces that cradle the moons of Jupiter in orbit, animated into this ephemeral early-morning splendor by eternal cosmic laws impervious to beauty and indifferent to meaning, yet replete with both to the bewildered human consciousness beholding it.”

–From Maria Popova, Figuring, quoted in Brainpickings

 

“The heart’s reasons

seen clearly,

even the hardest

will carry

its whip-marks and sadness

and must be forgiven.”

–Jane Hirshfield, “The Weighing”

 

 

I dream of the oak tree

its roots tunneling

expanding through darkness

linking to other roots

in connections we never see

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even as I do see—

do you?–

the branches saluting the sun,

the buds opening, sleepy-eyed

to greet the sun

 

and do you gaze, dazzled

to see how bushes, flowers, trees

literally bloom overnight—

do you hear the robin’s scolding–

“Look around you!”

One crow flies,

then another

calling, gathering in a tree,

“Now” they say.

“Now.”

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And I do look–

to the sky

and the ground below.

Which is the reflection, I wonder,

perhaps reality is the upside-down world,

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The World in a Puddle. Photo of a puddle in the parking lot at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ. March 2020.  Merril D. Smith

 

perhaps this is the dream?

Shadow-me drifts

moving with the river currents

fading with sun

and tides

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the ebb and flow

of life–

sun and moon,

stars,

the planets

 

move through our skies.

Once they were gods

now only so in name,

but is their power and beauty decreased,

or only different?

 

[See this photo of Jupiter.]

 

News of my mom comes–

she is isolated,

as if in space–

my dead father comforts her,

and I see the heart weighs,

 

reflects

the upside-down

and the shadows,

feels the ebb and flow

and forgives.

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Another puddle reflection, March 2020 Merril D. Smith

 

Like the rest of the world, we’re at home. We’re on Season 3 now of Babylon Berlin. We had a homemade pizza and movie night. We watched a new movie on Amazon Prime, Blow the Man Down. There’s a definite Coen Brothers vibe, complete with a Greek chorus of sea shanty-singing fishermen.

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Everyday Miracles

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Monday Morning Musings:

“We forget that nature itself is one vast miracle transcending the reality of night and nothingness. We forget that each one of us in his personal life repeats that miracle.”

–Loren Eiseley, The Firmament of Time, quoted here.

 

In argent splendor, she rises

full in her monthly course

Worm Moon in a yearly cycle

as winter turns to spring

she hums a song

 

awakening the flowers

pink, yellow, blue, white

and birds soar, black silhouettes

against the feather-clouds

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while beneath, unaware,

puppies run and tumble. I toss

a frisbee in the air

chased and caught–

what rises falls–

 

as we know, but forget,

ignore the signs,

and the moon’s warning–

it will be cockeyed day

of near mishaps

 

still the sun rises and sets

as the earth rotates

and we spin, but don’t fall—not yet—

while we make another revolution

through the year

 

to my sister-niece’s birthday.

While the men create order

from the chaos of the garden

we watch the river less restrained

crashing in waves upon the rocks

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Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ

 

while across the water

large ships sail into port

and out again to the sea

a cycle of commerce—

the river has seen it all, she sighs

 

as we walk and talk

of family and friends

of the history of this place

once full of crops and fish

where men died in battle

 

(Do you shiver, sensing their ghosts

drifting by?)

 

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we reflect on the times

but we eat and drink

celebrate her birthday–

in this time of caution–

with a solo candle for her slice–

 

 

don’t get too close,

the three-quarter moon hums

Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn

Ignore her,

the age-old story–

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pestilence and plagues

arrogance and ignorance–

but the flowers bloom again in spring

whether we see them or not

a miracle of nature

 

we forget and remember

trying to tame chaos

as the waves crash

we stop, look—sometimes

holding out a hand, even if it’s dangerous–

 

and the sun

rises again

and again

and again

and again.

 

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Sunrise Salutation

 

It’s been a strange week. Some of you may have seen my previous post, “Tilting.”

Merril’s Movie Club: In this time of social distancing, we haven’t gone out to see any movies recently, but we watched a movie last night, White Lies, New Zealand’s entry for Best Foreign Film at the 2014 Academy Awards. It’s a film that slowly uncovers secrets from the past about identity, colonialism, and women’s roles. It’s in Maori and English. It’s on Amazon Prime.

We’re also watching Babylon Berlin on Netflix. It’s been on  my list for awhile, but we’re just getting to it. Season 3 just dropped. We’ve binged Season 1, which begins in Berlin in 1929, and we’re on Season 2 now. It’s a real Merril show—neo-noir with a complicated storyline, dazzling visuals, and song and dance in every episode. I was a bit confused after the first episode, but now I’m hooked (and so is my husband).

 

 

 

 

Single Threads Together

Sunset over the Delaware River, Feb.2020

Sun and clouds reflected on the surface of the Delaware River, Feb. 24, 2020

Monday Morning Musings:

“It may be the only mark we make. Sic parvis magna … From small things, greatness.”

–Tracy Chevalier, A Single Thread: A Novel

 

 

Spring enters in a gavotte

to finish with a sun-kissed flower finale,

but winter interrupts the dance

grabbing the dancers with icy fingers

and thrusting them apart

 

this dance is the thread of life,

the world wakes again

the birds are beginning to sing–

just before dawn I hear them

rehearsing for early summer’s concert

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Later, they perch like fruit on trees

gathering in numbers

to sing farewell to the sun

and the day, old friends perhaps

who can finish each other’s sentences

 

threading them with references

that bind them together

a single thread, and another

woven into the fabric of the season

unraveled, threaded, woven again.

 

 

My sister-friends and I drink tea

we drop story-stitches, pick them up again,

single threads joined together

made stronger by overlapping

knotting them in love

 

nourishing them with food and drink–

the sandwiches are delicious

and so are the sweets.

We talk of #MeToo, politics,

of scary and stupid people

 

who sew all the wrong threads

into a horrid designs–

and then we sigh,

change the subject,

pour more tea

 

into the lovely cups. We drink.

The room is full of women,

and I wonder why

is this a woman’s place

or thing?

 

This sorting of masculine and feminine,

of black and white threads

of Christian, Muslim, Jew,

and places we’re afraid to go (my friend says),

these are knots that need unraveling. We sigh. Again.

 

The wind blows cold,

My husband and I stay inside

I make soup

bake bread

we watch movies and TV.

I watch my cat,

he is sick,

I wish I could heal him

with bread and soup–

he watches birds and the sun.

 

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My cat is better, but the world is sick

I wish I could heal it with bread and soup

and tea–

we could talk, women, men, children

weaving our stories together,

 

each of us a single thread

stitched into a blanket of time.

Does one stitch make a difference, or not–

I watch the sun rise and set,

tomorrow, I may see a flower bloom

 

small things that make a mark,

the tree that grow from a single seed

the egg that hatches into an eagle

the things that change the world,

single threads, woven together.

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Crocuses blooming, and daffodils coming up.

 

 

My friends and I had tea at Mademoiselle Macaron in Mullica Hill, NJ. I’m actually more of a coffee drinker, but going out to tea is something special.  I’m about halfway through Tracy Chevalier’s A Single Thread. It’s a historical novel that discusses the “surplus women” in between the two World Wars, and focuses on one who joins the embroiderers who embroider the kneelers at Winchester Cathedral. Any readers who go to my local library, I’ll return it for you soon.  🙂

Merril’s Movie Club: We missed it in the theater, but Honey Boy is now streaming. It is Shia LaBeouf’s autobiographical story (he plays his father)–sad, funny, and moving. I thought it was excellent. My cat was a bit alarmed by Bob Dylan’s harmonica music at the end.

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All the Seconds, Connecting

Philadelphia from Patco train, February 2020

This moment–sparkling.

Monday Morning Musings:

“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings. . .

This moment, this seed, this wave of the sea, this look, this instant of love.”

-from “Elegy in Joy [excerpt]”

Muriel Rukeyser – 1913-1980

 

In the slow sailing of time

and the dazzle-dance of stars

in all the afters

and the befores

we find connections

 

heroes still live

chasing one another for eternity

unable to escape

though larger than life

and immortal

 

(as long as we see them)

even if they vanish

in the rosy blush of morning

like the dew

like the second that has just passed

 

never to return.

But this instant,

and the next,

a beginning each time

like this seed

a burst of lavender and yellow

comes again, crocus then daffodil

through the years,

four seasons,

one birthday to another

 

we celebrate you

we celebrate us

a special dinner,

cake and presents,

you smile

 

say you’ve been thinking Vera, Chuck, and Dave

but I’ve brought you a bottle of wine

and you’re still my Valentine

I still need you and feed you–

let us nourish beginnings,

 

the moments that pass too soon–

my mother tells me my father wrote songs

she says she knows they’re his

though they say anonymous

because they’re about her,

 

the moments they had

when he saw her

and she could still see

and the doctor can fix her eyelid

but not her sight

 

or her green eyes

dimmed by time

almost a century

our oak tree even older,

and ghosts dance beneath its boughs

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where we had a swing,

a yellow baby swing,

somewhere in time

maybe it exists still

gently swaying

 

a rippling memory

like old window glass

of what was–

and I could connect them

the present and the past,

Merchant Exchange Building, Philadelphia

Wavy window glass of the Merchant Exchange Building, Old City Philadelphia, 2020 Merril D. Smith

 

and then that moment

would pass, too

elusive like a ghost.

Does my mother really see him

my father?

 

In the movie

the women are bound by the past,

broken by war

wanting to nourish new beginnings

will they heal

 

connect to something more than ghosts?

They are filled with emptiness.

And she is frozen.

What happens to the ghosts

when past moves to future?

 

We watch a show of future times

space ships and androids,

but still there is war.

Treachery seems to fill the skies

everywhere, so we look for heroes

in the stars

and watch their dazzle-dance

and mark the passage of time

with cake

as we nourish love, drink–

and so, the seconds pass

from birth to death

all the in-betweens

seeds to flowers, kittens to cats,

stars explode and are reborn, connected.

***

Random bonus cats.

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Cats and reflections! Philadelphia.

 

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Sometimes we like each other. 

 

Merril’s Movie Club: We sawJoJo Rabbit on Prime. I think my husband liked it more than I did. Not that I disliked it, but. . .I’m not sure if it worked. It’s hard to laugh about Nazis. Parts of it I did, and the little boy in it is wonderful. We saw Beanpole in the theater. Another one that is difficult to say, “I liked it” because of the subject matter, but excellent acting–the two leads especially are astonishing–but also the whole cast. It is definitely a bleak movie set in post-WWII Leningrad, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

We started watching Picard, even though I really don’t want to pay for another streaming service, but Patrick Steward as Jean-Luc again and daughters are watching it. . . and yes, that is an Enterprise pizza cutter with our homemade pizza.