Evanescence

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Monday Morning Musings:

“let us dream of evanescence and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”

― Kakuzō Okakura, The Book of Tea

(Thanks to Beth of I Didn’t Have My Glasses On for this quotation.)

“You can’t see them, but they are there.
Unseen things are still there.”

–from Misuzu Kaneko , “Stars and Dandelions” Read more here.

“Aunt Esther: You think you supposed to know everything. Life is a mystery. Don’t you know life is a mystery? I see you still trying to figure it out. It ain’t all for you to know. It’s all an adventure. That’s all life is. But you got to trust that adventure.”

–August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean

 

Snow, sun, rain

fleeting moments, each a chain

from then to here—

the dust of stars falls near

 

and ghosts appear

though we may not hear—

 

listen! There the rustle, the sigh

spirits or dreams flitting, drifting by?

Temporary, like our days,

so say poets and playwrights in their plays

 

(how do you measure a year?)

 

we take brief moments to watch the story

days of hope, days of glory

 

(one song glory)

 

days of fear and longing,

days to find a sense of belonging

 

to build walls, or tear them down

to visit the City of Bones, surround

 

oneself with people who care

enough to travel through, and share

 

(seasons of love)

 

the adventure, life

through Underground Railroads, and beyond—the strife

 

of being separated from family, husband and wife

and then finding emancipation is still rife

 

with pain, and different chains

two trains running, and from remains

 

of cities and lives, present and past

and so, if asked

 

(What about love?)

 

we take a chance on freedom,

on love, on hope, and try to teach them–

 

our children, lovers, friends—

that such much depends

 

on what we do now

when we allow

 

to linger in each beautiful pause

because

 

our time is limited to

see the unseen, too few

 

moments in a year

 

(Five hundred twenty-five thousand 
Six hundred minutes
)

 

lost to pain, despair, and fear

 

We gather our rosebuds, while we may

Ok. Wrong season, enough to say

 

we walk and talk, and drink some wine

we walk some more, the day is fine

 

we see some plays

then, find more ways

 

(with a thousand sweet kisses)

 

to find some joy, the mystery

of life, the history

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ours and theirs

so, dance, who cares?

 

It’s an adventure, for real

not always ideal

 

in fact, sometimes awful

perhaps, unlawful

 

But

(No day but today)

 

 

Look! The unseen things are here, there

in earth, moon, stars—everywhere.

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We saw August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, a wonderful, stirring, magical play at the Arden Theater. It is part of Wilson’s American Century Cycle, chronically African-American life. This one was one of the last plays he wrote, but it’s the first chronologically in the cycle. It’s set in 1904. We saw Rent, the 20th Anniversary Tour. The parenthetical lines come from Rent songs. Rent is a sort of retelling of La Bohème set in New York during the AIDS crisis. Jonathan Larson (book, music, lyrics) died of an aortic aneurysm a few weeks before the show opened in 1996. We ate at Tria and Monk’s in Philadelphia.

Also, yesterday began Daylight Saving Time, and I hate it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connections

Monday Morning Musings:

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“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

–L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”

–T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

“Not knowing when the dawn will come
I open every door.”

–Emily Dickinson

“Some people build fences to keep people out, and other people build fences to keep people in.”

August Wilson, Fences

Snap!

Thumb and finger strike,

connection made.

Snap!

Synapses fire,

memories triggered.

Snap!

Fingers, feet

feel the beat

New York streets

When you’re a Jet

You’re a Jet all the way

My sister and I listen to the album,

vinyl disk spins,

we watch the movie,

only later do I learn it is

Romeo and Juliet, updated,

and that famous play,

with its star-crossed lovers,

is based on older stories,

tales as old as time,

that connect us with the past.

 

So many movies, so little time before the old year ends,

we see Fences,

(powerful performances),

the sins of the father visited on the son

generation after generation,

connections through pain and history.

I dislike Troy more and more as the movie goes on,

while recognizing the source of his suffering,

and feeling sorry for him

and Rose and the children.

 

I ask my husband afterward

if he thinks he would have been a different father

if we had had sons instead of daughters.

He says yes, he thinks so,

that he would have been harder and stricter

like his father

who was a good man, but stern,

I was scared of him when I first knew him,

and amazed the first time I saw him laughing with his brother.

My father-in-law was so different with his grandchildren,

softer, gentler, singing Sesame Street songs.

I think of how he connected differently with his children

and his grandchildren,

the special bond he and my young nephew had.

 

On New Year’s Eve,

I think of people all over the world,

celebrating the new year.

I see photographs of fireworks,

Sydney and Hong Kong,

long before nightfall here.

We celebrate more quietly with a group of friends,

Chinese food dinner,

a tradition going back decades,

before and after children,

the where and how changing over time,

food and friendship

amidst the Christmas decorations and lights,

we discuss our families,

see photos of grandchildren,

and worry about what the election will bring.

Our friends talk of selling their houses and moving,

not because of the election,

but because we’re getting older

(but better, of course

with years of wisdom now)

we’re still us, though greyer and heavier

about our middles,

and we still connect

in the way of old friends,

with jokes, hugs, and glances that can reveal more than words.

 

One friend gives each of us—her sister-friends—

a bracelet,

matching bracelets,

I think of how bracelets

have been worn since ancient times,

good luck charms,

amulets for long life and happiness,

tokens of friendship.

charms linked to one another

connecting them

as we are connected through our bonds of friendship,

as words connect thoughts in a sentence,

expressing ideas and actions,

taking us into the new year and new worlds

describing our past, describing our future,

connecting them in clauses,

independent and dependent

as we are,

free to make choices,

to keep people out or keep them in,

but also, dependent on those around us

not to destroy our lives, our souls, our planet.

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New Year’s Eve, 2016. We are linked, heading into 2017.

 

We can build fences,

or walls,

but are we protecting or defending?

It’s a myth that the Great Wall of China can be seen from space,

but the lights of cities do glow like beacons,

lights connecting us in the dark,

connected like the water flowing from river to the sea,

the message in a bottle circling the globe,

Help! Find me. I’m lost.

The connection is made.

But, snap!

Who sent the message?

Is it too late to help?

 

The holidays are over, the clock strikes, we turn the page.

It’s a new dawn, with new words,

but still linked to the past like a bracelet.

Open the door,

peek over the fence,

Snap!

feel the beat,

move your feet,

dream of tales as old as time

and of now.

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I wish everyone a happy and peaceful new year. We may be in for quite a bit of turbulence on this journey through 2017. So buckle up! Have that wine and chocolate handy.  I appreciate all of you who read my posts, and I love the friendships and connections I’ve made here. Welcome to my new readers, too! I hope you’ll stick around to see what the new year brings here on Yesterday and Today.

 

 

 

 

 

Colors

Monday Morning Musings:

“The pianokeys are black and white
but they sound like a million colors in your mind”

–Maria Cristina Mena, The Collected Stories of Maria Cristina Mena
“Pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer! We must not let that happen here.”

–Eleanor Roosevelt

“The marriage institution cannot exist among slaves, and one sixth of the population of democratic America is denied it’s privileges by the law of the land. What is to be thought of a nation boasting of its liberty, boasting of it’s humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boasting of its love of justice and purity, and yet having within its own borders three millions of persons denied by law the right of marriage?”

–Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom

 

 The dogwood blossomed white across the city street,

green pots filled with brighter green plants adorned

the tables of an outside café

the earth is throwing off its winter grey,

awakening in shades of

pink, white, yellow, and green.

In the theater row in front of me,

sat a woman with chestnut brown curls

highlighted with a few strands of silver

flowing past her shoulders,

to her right was a woman with tight, black corkscrew curls

patches of nut brown skin visible between them,

to her left, a woman with straight, wheat blond hair

conversed with her auburn-hair friend

on stage were actors with various shades of brown skin

The play?

August Wilson’s Two Trains Running,

recreating life in a luncheonette, Pittsburgh 1969–

but it is an eerie echo of today

“Blacks Lives Matter,”

“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,”

black men in prison

guns

and women objectified—

well, some things never change, do they?

The set looks like a real luncheonette,

a pot of coffee, a glass diner carafe,

constantly on behind the counter,

a broken, homeless man

who can utter only one phrase,

the characters dream of a better life,

don’t we all?

 

The next day,

in another theater

in the same city,

the day cloudy and grey,

An Octoroon

by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins,

a black playwright

or a playwright?

It’s a head-spinning tour-de-force,

a play within a play

the nineteenth-century play,

The Octoroon by Dion Boucicault

blackface

whiteface

redface

black actors,

white actors–

just actors–

male and female,

and musicians,

there were chickens, too,

real chickens in a pen,

and Br’er Rabbit

(who, if it matters, had a white head and ears).

Colors and race,

we race to catch a bus,

we win a race,

we are members of the human race,

race, a silly word to describe–

What? What does it describe?

An octoroon was one eighth black,

(whatever that means)

unable to marry a white person

(whatever that means)

in Louisiana in 1859.

We get caught up in the 19th century

melodrama–

Will Zoe be sold?

Will George marry Dora?

An actor literally fights himself.

Two playwrights, different centuries

discuss the power of theater,

Boucicault was known for his

“sensation scenes,”

we are meant to feel

to be overwhelmed,

and we are.

But race?

If we go back far enough

we are all descended from the same pair,

some relative of Lucy’s in East Africa,

and some of us have Neanderthal genes, too.

Farther back still,

we are all made from star dust.

So what does that make us?

I am not naïve–OK. Perhaps I am, but

if your laws or religion tell you

to limit the rights of others

who have skin of a different color,

whose eyes are brown, when yours are blue,

whose genitalia differs from your own

who loves a person who has similar genitalia

who worships with his or head covered–

or does not believe in any god at all—

well, then, your laws and your religion

are simply wrong.

No debate.

Colors should describe flowers, the sea

the eyes of your beloved

not exclude and divide human beings.

The playwright says the point of theater is to

overload our senses

to make us feel–

and think–

And so we did

And so we do.

 

We saw Two Trains Running at the Arden Theatre.

We saw An Octoroon at the Wilma Theater.