Time Bends and Echoes

Monday Morning Musings:

“Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past. . .

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

Footfalls echo in the memory,

down the passage we did not take,

towards the door we never opened,

into the rose garden. My words echo

Thus, in your mind.”

T.S. Eliot, from “Burnt Echo”, No. 1 of “Four Quartets”

 

“So much of history is mystery. We don’t know what is lost forever, what will surface again. All objects exist in a moment of time. And that fragment of time is preserved or lost or found in mysterious ways. Mystery is a wonderful part of life.”

–Amy Tan, The Bonesetter’s Daughter

 

This week–

a photo,

hidden within a mislabeled envelope, appears

challenging history

what is known and what may be,

tangible, frangible,

certainly mysterious

does it show what we think it shows?

Can it?

Will we ever know more of lives that soared and crashed?

The photo,

a door opened into the past,

within it the people still live

a passage, a channel

leading this way or that

perhaps many such secret passages exist

burrow along well-traveled pathways

winding passages that bend and shape the straight roads of time

time past, time present, time future

 

We go to a play,

three men enter a room, one at a time,

Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, Count Leo Tolstoy

(Barefooted and dressed as a peasant, he says

don’t call me Count, throughout the play.)

The room is furnished with a drawered table and three chairs,

in the drawer, the men will discover notebooks and pens.

(Jefferson is amazed at a pen with ink–amazed he did not think of it himself.)

Though they lived in different times,

each man has just died and entered this room,

At this discovery, Jefferson remarks,

“Evidently time bends.”

IMG_6298

Bulletin board in the lobby of the Lantern Theater.

The door lock after each enters the room,

they cannot exit until—what?

Each man is a writer,

and it turns out each wrote his own version of the gospels,

each man was a visionary of sorts

who wrote about reforming society,

each failed within his own life to uphold the standards he envisioned

and in this amusing and entertaining play,

the men write and argue,

debate their ideas,

and write some more,

facing the mirror—us–

we, the audience, the fourth wall

hear their words,

hear them confess their deeds and weaknesses.

And what if they did meet,

and what if they did debate and discuss,

and what if we could hear them,

bending time

 

On a beautiful summer day,

after the play

we walk the streets that bear traces of Jefferson everywhere

IMG_6309

a medical school and university named for him.

Centuries ago, he walked these streets

sat in a room, penned (with quill) his elegant words*

of sacred rights, of equality and independence,

even while he continued to enslave others,

words that led to a revolution,

words that still resonate today,

I imagine him,

his long-legged stroll across the cobble-stoned streets,

conversing with his unlikely friend John Adams,

perhaps opening a door into a rose garden

there

the scent lingers in the air

the words echo

time bends

Charles Dickens visited Philadelphia, too.

in March 1842, he stayed at the United States Hotel

on Chestnut Street near Fourth,

the part of the city

now called Old City

where Jefferson and other delegates declared our independence

I imagine their ghosts meeting on these city streets

that Dickens found much too regular

longing for a crooked street–

perhaps seeking a place where time bent

and echoes lingered in the air

 

Dickens met with Edgar Allen Poe,

they discussed poetry.

Dickens had a pet raven, Grip,

his stuffed body rests in a glass case

at the Free Library of Philadelphia

Dickens wrote about Grip in his book

Barnaby Rudge,

which was serialized in the Philadelphia Inquirer,

and Poe reviewed the book for a Philadelphia publication in 1842,

mentioning the raven,

and Poe later writes a poem about a raven

whose word “nevermore” echoes in the air

and through time

 

And on this beautiful summer day

we sit outside at a café,

drink wine

(and beer)

 

eat cheese

(luscious)

IMG_6302

I wonder to my husband

how it would have been—

what if a woman had been in that room?

He says, was there one who wrote gospels?

I don’t know,

though I think there must have been

perhaps, lost to history,

or yet to be found,

a mystery,

perhaps to be revealed

in a mislabeled envelope,

or amidst remnants unearthed from a secret passage

in the locus of past, present, and future.

We sit at the table

(a window becomes a mirror

old buildings blend with new)

IMG_6308

watch the people,

listening to words echo

lingering in the breeze

 

We saw The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens & County Leo Tolstoy: Discord by Scott Carter at the Lantern Theater Company in Philadelphia.

We went to Tria Café Washington West

A photo said to be of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan was in the news this week.

*Jefferson’s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence 

The Week That Was, The Week We Dream

Monday Morning Musings:

 

“Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.”
–Langston Hughes, “Dreams”

 

“I dreamed of 747s

Over geometric farms

Dreams Amelia—dreams and false alarms”

–Joni Mitchell, “Amelia (1976)

 

“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.”

–Jonas Salk

 

Once my older daughter and I dreamed the same dream

in morning light, over breakfast plates

we discussed the dream, the hopes that wait

inside of you

to come at night, and go in day,

but I no longer remember what was said

the images now gone, the message, too,

there might have been a flute, or a dancer, perhaps

and I don’t know how it happened,

how our thoughts entwined or over lapsed,

but we share a common dream with many

a dream of justice for all, and ordinary,

for broken-wings that cannot fly

to soar on golden wings high into the sky.

 

I think of this in the fluster and bluster of the holiday season,

with thoughts that come without reason,

come now in moments of calm and comfort,

hot onion soup and warm spiced wine,

 

breaks for dreams and flights of fancy, transport

from tedium of work, of this and that, and revisions,

and I look down at my lap, try to imagine

the dreams of my cat, of his visions

wonder if there’s hope

or images of what has been.

img_4845

I wonder what he dreams?

 

In the fluster and bluster of the holiday season,

I see a glorious sunset,

visible above the suburban mall,

crowning it, a coronet

of orange and red, streaked with clouds of ash-grey

pausing before I look away

to start my car

but making note of it in my mind,

nature’s art, unsigned

left behind

because it’s cold, and I’m tired

and I so I don’t linger or stay.

 

On my car radio, I hear John Glenn has died,

a true hero, a man with dreams,

who worked to make them come true,

but still seemed humble,

even as he soared, appreciating the sun rising and setting

but never forgetting,

truth and facts matter, too.

I think of watching space missions

on school TVs perched up high on wheeled carts

we never questioned the conditions, the positions,

life took place in black and white then

over and over, again and again,

Us and Them

Cold War and the Iron Curtain,

the phrase, the image

both terrified and perplexed me,

rather than strong and powerful,

existence seemed strained and uncertain.

 

But that was then,

now–who knows?

now the images are colored,

but fear and ignorance is unfurled,

black and white, some still view our world,

see iron curtains, want iron walls.

False prophets and false alarms.

 

I refuse to accept this new normal,

where two plus two equals whatever is

Tweeted and Re-Tweeted

till many believe what never was, is.

I read of heroes,

and I know resistance is not futile

and I will not go gently,

will listen intently,

I will rage against the dying of light

will fight for what’s right,

because there is always the crack where the light gets in.

 

And so—

we eat comfort food

we drink wine

 

watch TV

and wrap presents

we look for magic in the ordinary and the extraordinary.

img_4862

Holiday Magic

 

And so—

I write, spread facts, not rumors

urge others to be consumers

of love and what is real

and what is already great,

but not hate.

I dare to dream,

to make dreams a reality,

to heal the broken-wings of hope

and send it flying

like 747s over geometric farms

I watch the sun rise and set

and think it is not over,

no, not yet.

 

We tasted some delicious wine at Sharrott Winery in Hammonton, NJ. Then drank a bottle with some brie.  And we talked of hopes and dreams.