Yet, See, Things I know

Monday Morning Musings:

“I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”
--Sylvia Plath, Mad Girl’s Love Song

Ice Puddle at Red Bank Battlefield, ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

We prepare for winter
with blankets, tea, and books,
candles to light the nooks
of home, as heart, brain
given free rein, see in the shadows,
ghosts, cold, pain,

the fear of what frozen months bring,
the fear of known and unknown things—

we prepare to be together,
we prepare to be apart

our hearts sing, sigh
say goodbye in forlorn wandering
the air waves, weaves strands of grey with light
though it also shoots frozen silver darts–

yet, see

there’s magic still simmering, glimmering
at the surface where sea serpents shed their scaly skin
to dance with water sprites

Waves of water, sand, and air. A sea serpent leave her skin. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

and eagles soar from bare-branched trees,
again into light,
over the river, the sky is grey

but the gulls rise, and there are patches of blue–
spring is coming

Clouds

despite the mud-stomped snow,
the geese know time flows

“we’re coming, we’re coming,” they honk and cry,

it’s coming, Spring,
the cardinal couples call,
and the nuthatches laugh,
and the crows gather (not murderous at all)
but aware

that love is in the air.

Valentine’s Welsh Cookies

And if I made you up,
then a wondrous dream it’s been,

there will be more snow, but in birdwing flight
and woodpecker’s drumming

I know spring is coming.

Merril’s Movie Club: So, you know, pandemic. . .we didn’t go anywhere. AND, the GOP senators, except for seven, couldn’t find their spines, or even worse, don’t care to. So. . .I really wanted to see a Merril movie, the kind we would have seen in a Philadelphia theater. I rented one from an NYC arthouse theater instead (filmforum.org). It’s less expensive than going to the movies, but of course, there are more distractions at home, so the experience is not the same. We rented, Preparation to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time, Hungary’s entry for the Academy Awards. It’s a noirish story of a neurosurgeon who after meeting a man at a conference in New Jersey, plans to meet him in a month in the Liberty Bridge at the Pest side in Budapest. He doesn’t show up, and when she tracks him down, he says he doesn’t know her. Thus, begins a story of did she imagine this whole romance? My husband and I both liked the movie a lot—he was still talking about it the next day. It’s not up there with Cold War (sigh), but it’s still a good movie, beautifully filmed. The quote from Sylvia Plath was at the beginning of the movie.

He slept through the movie.

Day 7: Special January Ekphrastic Challenge

For Day, I’ve written two poems for Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge.

I liked all three pieces of art, but I responding to Kerfe Roig’s “Clarity” and Christine O’Connor’s (CO13).

Clarity

Coming home from the ER, I felt
a sense of clarity amidst the exhaustion,
and in the over-awakened midnight hour, an owl hooted
over and over again

calling for love, not warning,
I decided. And for love, we returned to the hospital
as the sun rose over the bridge to light the shadowed city streets.

Unfinished

There are ghosts in the secret garden
drifting through the flowers’ birdwing-flutters,
she senses them, but they are masked, invisible
against the bright blooms, unfinished with this world,
outside of time, inside the walls, they wait.

January Ekphrastic Challenge, January 7

Paul Brookes of the Wombwell Rainbow is hosting a special January ekphrastic challenge. Today is Day 1. Thank you, Paul.

My poem today responds to Kerfe Roig’s image, “Acquainted with the night close.” I realize it’s probably not a crow in the painting.

Kerfe Roig, “Acquainted with the night close”

Night Seer

Crow soars through the brume, the leaden sky
awash with whirling dreams, spindrift from the sea of night,
and shiny-bright, he gathers them.

No trickster, he, but seer
of what might be in time with chance, he caws
a warning, laughs in love—there’s so much to be done—

in the rustling of ancient winds, he breathes
a break in darkness, drops omens in oceans
and hopes on moonbeams,

watches the stars. His eyes reflect their gleam.

Thoughts on Flying

A5C0A9A6-351F-4533-B387-E904D82570B4

 

Birds on a wire

like thoughts coming together,

 

resting before flight–

 

the pause,

rhythm in a sentence

 

in the secret language of birds,

forming patterns in circles and lines,

 

gliding on wind currents,

soaring into the clouds–

 

and I watch, wondering

 

what it’s like to rise so high

without fear of falling?

 

9753436B-A8AB-434D-98A7-78BE06E33CCE

Crows in flight at Red Bank Battlefield, July 2020

 

For dVerse,where Laura has asked us to write about flight. I’ve reworked some old poems. . . a work in progress perhaps.

 

 

 

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

2DD63DA9-2914-4641-8FB0-281A036F8F3F

to treetops, or into clouds.

Where do they go?

What do they think

of the shadow’s encroachment?

Is it an annoyance

IMG_3088

 

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

IMG_5668 2

upon a canvas,

the artist looked, remembering,

translating memories into color and form

each brushstroke, a touch from the past,

the whole, a memorial

0A1DDED0-161C-4FA2-8DE9-F603A5C08BF7

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–

ABE5BA63-1BA2-4802-AD0C-BA589CFD153E9A6737D2-2737-4E4D-B6D0-DD4C7DE38867

49D19D1A-0DCB-4F51-A1B9-A24E6B0994B9

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

BE343E0F-35EF-410D-9469-E202A1B9D4B0

never to be seen again,

but we may find a trace, a feather

31135EE0-48F4-4A33-84A2-F90A3C671AC2

Feather–could it be a turkey feather?

E05C3963-87B4-4FDE-84F7-FB3081F780CC

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.

32A37A8D-31C7-485D-98E9-9E3F2576F588

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soar, Crash, Burn, Rise

Monday Morning Musings:

Once my sister and I were chicks,

we sucked honeysuckle from vines,

and danced with bees on hot summer days.

101501968_3341711045842135_1364437133422493696_o

Wild honeysuckle

Then I became many birds. . .

 

a robin, who sings in morning

a mother goose, swimming with her mate

telling stories to her children

IMG_1320

IMG_2438

 

and teaching them to swim and fly.

 

I became a heron,

standing at the water’s edge

as the frogs jump and ripples

IMG_4533

100577111_3341705672509339_471323857022615552_o

Frog ripples in the upside down world.

flow in expanding circles

 

like raptors in the sky,

on a quest,

for sustenance–

IMG_5777 2

we all fly this path,

 

ignoring the owl’s night warning–

danger is coming, danger is here!

We burn

 

and hope like the phoenix, we’ll rise again.

 

So, I become the golden peacock, a light-seeker,

even as my many eyes cry for the lost,

I fly to worlds only imagined. . .

IMG_3140

imagine them now–

 

and listen

for my star songs

I give them to you–

 

reach high,

 

hold them near your heart,

feel them flutter

with life.

 

8B6C402D-81E4-478D-AAC5-48B32DB3AEAA

Reaching

Like most people I’m heartsore and weary. Since November 2016, the majority of Americans have been in shock, but the situation in our country, and in the world, continues to deteriorate. I know I’m fortunate to have a home, a loving husband, daughters, sisters, and friends, and food to eat. I have places where I can walk without fear. But, I’m worn from taking care of my mom, worn from her dying, worn my cat dying, of so many people dying. . .while the lies and the lack of leadership here have led to more deaths. I don’t know how to express all this. There are others who can say it better, but I write in poetry. So this was today, my musing. (Some of the photos come from this week, and some are older photos.)

 

On an entirely different note because we all need escapes, Merril’s Movie Club:  The Vast of Night, a new movie on Amazon is a lot of fun. We ordered takeout Saturday night and had a movie night. It’s sort of a retro sci-fi movie that pays homage to The Twilight Zone and old sci-fi movies. One review I read said something about how you’ve seen the story lots of times before, but it’s the way it’s told. We both enjoyed it a lot.

We also watched the show Undone on Amazon, and even though I’m not normally a fan of animated shows, this is such a Merril show. I learned that this type of animation is called rotoscoping. The show is funny, profound, weird, moving, and deals with moving through time and space, mental illness, deaf culture, indigenous cultures, family. . .each episode is less than half an hour.

 

 

 

 

 

Mockingbird, NaPoWriMo 2020, Day 30

512px-Mocking_Bird_(Audubon)

 

Every year–

I wait for spring

to hear again

the mockingbird sing–

the effort he exerts—

that brings to me such pleasure.

 

Now hear the sound of robins, cardinals, jays,

all of their phrases within his song

so long, and repeated with such power,

calling from above the flowers

as he perches in a tree.

 

See—he struts,

with wings outstretched

he flaunts his stuff—

 

but it’s his voice that floats

above the pink-petaled rain,

he’s sustained

by hope–or desperation–

the sound

goes ‘round and round

through the midnight hours

 

singing with so much might

he summons dawn’s light—

 

and still he sings

into the after.

 

So. . .many of you know I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, and I stopped participating in this year’s NaPoWriMo and other prompts. But, here’s one on-prompt for the last day of NaPoWriMo to write a poem about something that returns. I felt like doing a bit of rhyme.

I’m also linking it to Open Link Night at dVerse, where Kim is hosting and notes “we are listening.”

 

 

 

.

 

 

The Sound, the Sight, the Magic, the Light

7ADB9414-F34D-4091-8ED5-535D39BBA888

Monday Morning Musings:

“Can you fly

I heard you can! Can you fly

Like an eagle doin’ your hunting from the sky”

–Joni Mitchell, “That Song about the Midway” Listen Here.

 

“No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.”

–Billy Collins, “Forgetfulness” 

 

In these days of gloom

dimmed dreary days

of November blues

while in the news, the hints of doom

constant, unrelenting–

 

but then comes the sound

and sight

hundreds of birds, in flight

this murmuration, a delight,

their orienting

 

so breathtaking

shaking me, awaking

all the wonder,

this magic, a gift

drifting from the sky

E6BBB316-D98C-432E-B82B-2153CA985D91

flying low and high,

they call in their ancient tongue

(we the earthbound

can’t understand)

and then they go–

but birds seem everywhere,

even in the show we watch–

where the crows are what?

Harbingers of fortune or fate?

Or perhaps they come too late

 

for our planet,

pale dot of blue,

so, I delight

in nature’s gifts

and sights

 

the morning sun,

the moon of silver-white

smiling in benediction

even when we forget

it’s there.

IMG_5169

I cook and bake,

as the days in constant gloaming

take their toll, I want to snuggle

not go roaming

through rain-filled streets

 

1ACEE0F1-469F-4AF5-93FE-AB55D8626533

Puddle Reflections on a Rainy November Day , Philadelphia Parkway

IMG_5186

Crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia, from Patco Train

74B35496-2DBF-472E-8E3F-EB678E29E484

Rainy Day Reflections, Philadelphia

yet, we do what we must

and so, I write poems with my mother

who only thinks of summer coming

her thoughts drifting through time—

like birds in murmuration flight–

IMG_5191

Writing poems with my mother

and her eyesight

diminished, like the day’s light

her memories uncertain

confused, a twilight zone

of fact and fiction

 

but still we make her laugh

and try to remember what was—

hold mental photographs

of before, then walk through the door

to our other life,

 

husband and wife

we drink some wine

and I remember what I can

hold everything that’s fine

within my mind

 

and see the magic of moon and birds

and the old oak tree

glowing in the autumn gloom

remember how

it holds hundreds of memories

 

listen–

hear it murmur, murmur, murmur

as the acorns fall

in the rustling leaves of brown

covering cold ground

 

where secrets lie

waiting, waiting

for the warming sky–

and I dream

(I heard you can)

we fly.

IMG_5144

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovely Bright, The Sight

01CC2FF0-0C65-4313-B799-E819A84EC0EA

Monday Morning Musings:

“How clear, how lovely bright,

How beautiful to sight

Those beams of morning play. . .

 

Ensanquining the skies

How heavily it dies. . .

How hopeless under ground

Falls the remorseful day.”

–from A.E. Houseman, “How Clear, How Lovely Bright”

 

 

The line, the flow

the glow

of life, scattering

 

leaves, the gathering of nuts and seeds

(the sky bleeds)

reflecting the spattering

IMG_5011

of wounds, the broken glass

before the gas

and rustlings

 

of war and wind

the leaves are thinned,

but hear them crunch and crackle

IMG_5051

as squirrels scamper and play

in the fading light of autumn day

and the birds fly—geese and grackle—

and hawks and vultures soar

before the train comes, roars

down the tracks

IMG_5027

taking me somewhere—

up and down, stairs

we go, into the wind,

 

the boat sails

and what tales

might it have, of rivers or sea?

Delaware River from Patco train heading to Philadelphia

Delaware River from Patco train heading to Philadelphia

And is there a lighthouse, with ghostly

glowing and horn blowing, or mostly

sunny skies?

 

Time must sail, too

and we a sometime crew

walk through history

7D881329-DEAE-47AA-9C2A-C15FFC2A6E11

18th Century garden on site of Benjamin Rush’s House, Philadelphia

how can it be otherwise,

the lows and highs

of our own lives, the mystery

 

of others–we see a groom and bride

and I hope they lovingly glide

into a life of love and joy

IMG_5046

A wedding party taking photos at “my willow” at Dock Creek, Old City, Philadelphia

(Pause, we drink coffee and wine

stop for a time—

but time is coy)

and autumn comes cold and dark

but there is beauty, even if it’s stark—

see the moon rise over fields stripped of grain

C5042A07-6D23-4DAE-95F5-ACE6071EB456

Moonrise over a South Jersey field, November.

glowing, humming—this autumn sky

and the clouds and time

the time before the rain, snow, the train

 

of time. The movie train that circles

through the frozen world, almost eternal

but the cost

 

a cautionary tale

of where we might sail

and is our world already lost?

 

Crow calls

the remorseful day falls

setting underground

 

in fiery ball, unheeding

the world goes on, speeding

and we spellbound.

 

But I don’t celebrate bleeding—

or ferocious gods, the leaders leading

into destruction–

 

let poetry fly

through vast haunted eternity, die

the war-fever. Find a new function

 

for our minds and hearts

in words of love, kindness, and arts

that soar with feathered wings–

5D9BE830-BD64-4323-86CF-15028BA2C0F1

how clear, how lovely bright

the sight

of what could be, of hope that sings

 

as the walls tumble down.

IMG_5012

 

This was a week of elections, cat dental surgery, the anniversary of Kristallnaught (November 9, 1938), and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. In the U.S. today is Veteran’s Day. It was formerly Armistice Day, but of course, war has not ended. I respect all who have served and honor all those who have given their lives in serving their country. While someone like Hitler had to be stopped, it would be better if people did not let such people gain power.

 

For Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Snowpiercer, a 2014 movie we had never seen, but since we recently saw Parasite, and it is an earlier movie by the same director, Bong Joon-ho, we decided to watch it. It’s on Netflix. This one’s in English, and it’s much more of an action movie than I would normally see. Like Parasite, the movie covers the issues of class and climate,and there was definitely much to think about. Overall, we both liked it. There is also fighting and bloody scenes though, so be forewarned. We saw Lighthouse in the theater. It’s also in English. I know, strange, right?  (Don’t worry, we’re still watching Black Spot, so reading subtitles there.).  Great acting, beautiful black and white cinematography. Very strange, surrealistic movie of two lighthouse keepers on an isolated island. Some of the dialogue is taken from Melville and lighthouse keepers’ diaries. It’s somewhat similar in style to his previous movie, The Witch.

 

 

 

Mockingbird Sings

512px-Mocking_Bird_(Audubon)

 

Mockingbird sings,

brings sunshine

in his song,

all his longing

brightly calling

 

swinging my heart along,

 

and through his trills,

he fills the night

with vibrant light–

stilling the storm–

to wing it

softly out of sight.

 

This is for dVerse Open Link Night, where Mish is hosting. For the last two days, we’ve had severe thunderstorm alerts and tornado warnings. Fortunately, we did not get anything too awful here, but it makes me anxious. Last night, after the storms had cleared-out, I opened the bedroom window a bit and heard a mockingbird singing. It made me happy–then I heard it again today. There are things on my mind, and we’re under a severe thunderstorm warning again, but right now, the birds are singing.