Of Things Heard and Seen

Monday Morning Musings:

Morning Beaver Moon Between the Branches, ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I’m musing about musing,
bemused by my muse, how she drifts
on slivers of silvered streams, and beams
from between leaves, perceives before thought
reaches me, the beauty of golden glow, the gilding
of roofs and trees,

Autumn Glow Reflected in the Delaware River ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

and hears the calls of all
the birds in sky and river beach, each a part
of something larger–

in the flutter of a wing, the creation of a storm
or from a tiny wish, greater reveries born,
as time circles round, what was future becomes past,
the russet leaves fall, a pewter blanket shrouds the earth,

but buried deep among the roots, sleeping seeds dream
of brighter and more beautiful things, of blue and green

of fuzzy chicks and spotted fawn,
of dawn chorus, mockingbird, and robin song—

Robin atop the tree dressed for autumn
Autumns leaves soaring over the Delaware River

and now in blanket weather, cat on lap,
with pen to paper, the muse whispers write
of the luminous branches covered in jewels,
and the ripples in the river, the blue reflected from above,
and the way time pauses and stills when surrounded by love–
and I say, yes, it does, and yes,
I will.

Our older child and their wife are here for Thanksgiving. This is the first time we’ve seen them since before the pandemic. ❤️. I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Dreams in Blue

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

Frosted River Blues ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I dreamt my dad
was visiting Boston, as was I.
I knew it was a dream, but I was glad
to see him, to know he didn’t die

completely. Death takes,
but the mind recalls—
at least in dreams. We wake
to cry or sigh or laugh, but all

is part of life, like spring and fall—
the cycle of the seasons, the folds
of time–dream-me is not one age, clocks toll
differently there, controlled

by mind, the shadows and the light.

Now, beneath a canopy of crimson, gold,
and yellow-green
I gaze up at the blue-gowned sky, foretold
by orbit’s path and revolution, the unseen and the seen–

November Sunrise over a Frosted Field ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

the beauty of frosted November mornings,
despite the baring of the trees, the death of things,
the ignoring of all warnings—
see the gulls fly with scintillating wings

reflecting the glow, and letting it go?

Autumn Scene, ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

This the balance, life and death–
the cloth bag I took to my mother’s hangs on a chair waiting,
I take a breath,
hesitating

to make her death final and real.
Crow caws beauty, evil, life and death—all are true,
parts of a whole, a cycle, the real we feel,
a sigh within, a heart-soar reaching for the endless blue.

I have been amazed this week by the beauty of nature. The glorious light of this time of year, even the frost is beautiful. Soon, everything will look barren and grey, so I’m enjoying this while I can. I’ve also been dismayed by how willing people are to embrace the haters and those who spread misinformation. People I know who “don’t believe in” masks voted for the baby Trumpty-Dumpties, who have already been called out for racist slurs. UGHHHHH!
But on the bright side, I got to see friends this week—who definitely do NOT believe this nonsense.

And today, I went walking and talking with a friend. Then we had my homemade challah cinnamon toast and coffee and talked some more. Thus, the late post today. I will be back in a little while because I’m hosting Prosery on dVerse today.

Merril’s Movie/TV Club:

We watched and finished Maid (Netflix), inspired by Stephanie Land’s memoir. My husband and I both enjoyed it, although after the first episode, he looked at me and said something like, “well, that was uplifting.” But if you haven’t watched it, there are funny incidents, times of joy, and surreal moments—it’s not all bleak. I listened to an NPR interview with Stephanie Land that was done before the Netflix series. Here

We streamed a new movie, I Am Your Man (rental, Amazon Prime). It’s a German movie about an archeologist who agrees to evaluate an android who has been designed to be her perfect partner. It’s sort of a rom-com with a tiny touch of sci-fi, but also poignant– as it asks what we really want in a mate. Do we want perfection? And also, apparently Dan Stevens can do anything, even speak German. We both liked this movie a lot. Trailer here.

Things That Are Lost

Monday Morning Musings:

Sunrise Reflections, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

Things that are lost—

buttons, keys, a pearl earring
summer leaves, the morning light
that fades as the sun rises to its height.

Sunrise over the Delaware River at West Deptford, NJ

Shadows that follow
then disappear,
like warm-weather fruits—till next year.

A battle, a war,
a way of life from before
when then was now, the shore

of future lay ahead,
the dead were living,
at least in your head.

Autumn puddle and reflections

Memories, a laugh, a song ,
the things you wished once to do
with loved ones you once knew–

husband, father, child, wife,
a beloved pet, a favorite toy—
all the sorrow and the joy,

things that are lost –and sometimes found,

air, love, happiness, roots, connected deep underground.

Sunrise with tree silhouette

October seems a month of both beauty and melancholy. The sun rises later and set earlier, but in-between there’s a beautiful glow. We’ve had fog, rain, amazing sunrises, warm days, cold days, and more and more falling colored leaves.

This week we took a brief trip to Hammonton, NJ to pick up some olive oil and balsamic vinegar I like. I also bought cannoli for myself and our daughter (my husband didn’t want one).


We attended a memorial service for my husband’s uncle in Mt. Holly. We went to the service, talked a bit to family members, but then left without eating, as we were not comfortable sitting in the basement room with a bunch of strangers who may or may not be vaccinated. One of the hymns sung was “Amazing Grace.”

Merril’s Movie Club: We streamed three movies this week, all very different, but perhaps sharing a common theme of loss: life, dreams, love, memory. Fever Dream (Netflix) is difficult to describe, as is the novel it’s based on that I read last year. But the title is an indication. I think I liked it more than my husband did. It has a dreamy and slightly unsettling air, with much of it a voice-over between a woman and a boy who is not her son. To give a lot of detail would spoil the movie. There’s a mystery and supernatural elements, and a magical realism feel. We watched The One I Love, a 2014 movie about a couple played by Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss go for a weekend getaway at the suggestion of their therapist (Ted Danson). What looks like a rom com movie slips into the surreal. Again, I won’t give any spoilers, but it was fun, unusual, and gives you something to talk about. Finally, we watched The Black Box, a scifi/horror movie from last year on Amazon. It’s about a father who has lost his memory after an accident. When he undergoes a new treatment, strange things happen. It’s a solid B movie—entertaining and enjoyable.

When, Then, Now

Sunrise over the Delaware River at West Deptford, NJ

When water watches the pink sky,
and time plays with rust and diamonds–
in that moment the honeyed light sings
with gathered breath of stars and beats
an ancient and eternal rhythm.

Ask then—
if dreams drift from above,
to catch in moonglade,
or sparkle like spoondrift–

and you beneath,
embracing the blue ghosts that linger
in the slow smile of dawn.

My poem from the Oracle. She always knows. This is a strange time of year–beautiful and melancholy. We’ve had some spectacular sunrises lately–this one is from today– but we’re supposed to get thunderstorms later today. Last night my sleep was disrupted by some sort of police activity going on–very unusual. We live in a quiet neighborhood. We have a memorial service to attend, as well.

I guess WP is changing things again–the preview button has options now.

These Days

Monday Morning Musings:

“Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”
–Walt Whitman. “Song of Myself,” Leaves of Grass

Early Morning, Light through the Clouds. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield.©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

These are liminal days,
when twilight lingers
as death drifts, in a falling russet leaf,
and bee-buzzed blooms, purple and gold,
wave farewell to cloud-nestled moon
then reach for waking sun–
who timidly, then finds her voice
to sing away the grey.

These days of soft cat-paw-tread
transform, eagle-sharp talons tear away
the foggy gray, leaving crystal blue—

Sunrise over the Delaware River. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

and there, white flowers grow, clinging to life
on dead wood–

Early morning Reflections. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

and we? Here, in this in-between–
embracing ghosts and color–
looking toward the stars,
remembering they are part of us,
and we of them, all–

Geese at Sunrise ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

see where the light shines through,
then know, this is where the song begins and ends–
re-formed, reprised, again and again.

October is such a transitional time of year here. One day grey, the next so bright. One day cool, then next summer-sticky. The leaves are turning, but we still have flowers. There are still too people getting sick and dying of COVID, and people who still refuse to get vaccinations or wear masks. I know WAY too many people who have pets who have died recently or are dying. My husband’s uncle died on Friday. It was not COVID, and he’s been sick for a long time and also suffering from dementia, so in the case, though still very sad, there’s a sense of relief that he and his family are no longer suffering.

Today began with a before dawn rejection e-mail. I hope that’s not the way the week’s going to go. It put me in a bad mood, but my morning walk raised my spirits, as it usually does.
This week we watched Midnight Mass (Netflix). It’s horror, but not the super-gory type. There’s more talk than action, which doesn’t bother me, and it actually ends on a very Merril-like note. I liked it. We also watched a Danish mystery called The Chestnut Man (Netflix), another “Scandi-noir” show. We both liked it and got caught up in it. I guess kids making chestnut men is a thing in Denmark? It made me look up American chestnut trees. There are streets named Chestnut in almost every town around here, but it seems the millions of American chestnut trees were killed by a blight. One interesting fact I learned is that the blight does not kill the roots, so they still exist below ground, and there are chestnut trees that continue to sprout up and then die.

It was a good week for cooking comfort food.

A Reminder

Ask if the moon sleeps as the sky turns rosy,
and with languid tongue, licks black to blue–
does she recall the after-ache of crashing birth,
and dream the songs of a thousand stars?

Now, watch the cool cat breath rise with arched back
over the river, curling into the morning air—

is this what you seek? Recall the beauty of this day—
clothed in peach, pink, and blue–
the chirp of sparrows, the rush of heron’s wing.

When I opened our back door this morning, there was the moon right in front of me. Then when I walked to the river, it was just so beautiful with the sun rising over the water. The world is full of terrible things and horrible people, but there is also such beauty in it. The Oracle knows and reminds me.

Cranberries and Blue

Clouds and Blue Sky, First Day of Autumn at Red Bank Battlefield

And now, the sky is clearest blue,
gone summer’s haze, the color true
where eagles, herons, geese fly through

into tomorrow. Now the air
is crisp—soon crisper—and see there
the leaves are turning gold? Prepare
as now’s the time for harvests, too.

Grapes for wine, apples for the pies
and sauce, tossed in a pot—time flies—
between sun and moon, lows and highs.
Taste the tart and bittersweet, chew,

swallow, wallowed grief–holidays
she’ll never see. Cranberries stay
on my mind, and Thanksgiving Day
with the blue-squirrel mold—it’s hard to

say, the family tradition—
how she held it, the condition
of it unsure—no prediction
what cranberries will do. And you

cry, but it’s not the fruit. Life goes
on. Leaves turn, and the river flows
with secrets and ghosts undisclosed—
cranberries sauced, but you are blue.

Our precious squirrel mold for Thanksgiving cranberry sauce

This is Zéjel for Grace’s Meet the Bar prompt on dVerse, and also for Mish’s fruit prompt on Tuesday. I was thinking about Thanksgiving and our family’s cranberry squirrel the other day. We haven’t all been together since before my mom died.

Linger–Quadrille

Almost autumn with an Egret. the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

Linger here—wait, hereafter–
listen to the gulls call in laughter.
Rest awhile in this in-between
the sky so blue, the trees still green—

soon, the russet-leaves will fall,
and we’ll recall–

memories dim–rose-scent and sun-kissed skin
as icy fingers stroke your chin.

A quadrille for dVerse. Linda has asked us to use the word linger. We’re just about at the autumnal equinox, and the weather seems perfectly balanced. I wish it would linger like this for awhile.

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.”