Here and There and Here

Willow at Dock Creek, October 2019

Monday Morning Musings:

“All I know

Is you are there

You are there

And I am here.

–Irene Sankoff and David Heine, “I am Here,” from Come From Away

 

“Suddenly there’s nothing in between me and the sky”

Irene Sankoff and David Heine, “Me and the Sky,” from Come From Away

 

“Think of it as a ghost play; the actor’s older bodies are haunting these thirteen-year-old characters.”

Clare Barron on her play, Dance Nation

 

“Are you here?” my mother asks

as I, involved in some ordinary task

stand just beyond her sight.

 

The boundaries between mist and light

time and dreams, seems porous, slight

and she drifts, and we drift again and again

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Reflections in a rain puddle, Philadelphia

sunshine, then rain

“Here,” says the woman in the book

“Here,” I say, “Look.”

 

The twilight and dawn

the days that falter, end with a song

look at them fly

nothing between them and the sky

and we drink wine, talk of movies and why

they did this or that—it’s a metaphor

I say, and we laugh, remember more

to discuss, remember the time when it was just us

or when we were thirteen–

 

remember how life seemed?

All emotions, and the dreams?

Emotions now more settled, but more stress—

I digress.

Time right now to sit in gardens bright

to catch autumn’s glowing light

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rain and sunshine, tears, delight

I was there once, now I’m here in sight–

of what? I’m not certain, but you are here

together we’re here,

and there’s magic in theater–and deer

and nature, magic in each day’s dawning

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watching the sun rise, yawning

as it sets, and the cats that sleep, never fawning

honest with their desire

for food and love, we’re the suppliers

but we get it back, their love doesn’t expire

no ghosts in their bodies, at least that I see

 

they can just be–

and sometimes so can we—

here together,

 

I am here,

you are here,

nothing between us and sky–

in my dreams, we fly.

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We actually saw two shows this week: Come From Away and Dance Nation. Come from Away is heartwarming without being cloying. It’s about people doing good. It’s about the town in Newfoundland that takes in flights following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. It’s poignant, but also very funny at times. The staging is wonderful, and we saw it in the beautiful Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Dance Nation is about a competitive dance team of middle school kids, but it’s also a memory play, as we see glimpses of the girls (and one boy’s) older selves. All the actors are adults. It’s laugh out loud funny at times, but it also makes you want to cheer. There’s a wonderful speech on female empowerment.

And for Merril’s Movie Club members—we finally got to the movies and saw Parasite. Yes, of course it has subtitles. It’s Korean. It’s about class and metaphors, and it’s excellent, but you know, it’s a Merril movie. 😉 Here’s the trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Questions

Monday Morning Musings:

“Autumn poses the question we all have to live with: How to hold on to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying. How to see the world as it is, yet find light within that truth.”

–Pico Iyler, Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells, quoted in Brainpickings

 

 

In the transitional spaces

of this liminal season,

sun and moon both hold their places

easing in

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Morning moon over the river.

the days of swoops and shifts

where sunshine fires gold and red

and nature bewitches with magic gifts–

deer and birds, the leaves unshed

to glow in sunshine, that perfect light

too soon hidden behind the grey

of clouds, and we trudge but fight

the winter’s-coming-wind. “Stay!”

we say to sunshine and golden glow

as we struggle through “the wind tunnel of death”

in rush hour city streets, go with the flow,

see, not so bad, we catch our breath

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and onward go, sunshine, then rain

and I work, cook, bake, turn on the heat

to be certain it works, for frigid air comes again

and soon winter winds will roar, and we’ll retreat

not wanting to venture out so long or often

but yet we’ll have to carry on, do what we must

and with blankets, soup, and candles, soften

the cold (and in the dimness hide the dust).

 

But for now, we walk and celebrate

the accomplishments, good weather, and walk

through parks, a restaurant, a concert—a date

I suppose, we listen to the other couples talk

Park in Collingswood, NJ, Merril D. Smith, 2019

at other tables and speculate

about their lives. Then we move on—

the concert late into the night, but great

and soon comes another dawn

and more rain. A grey afternoon

my mom nods off to the TV

I make her laugh as I dance to a tune–

Que sera, what will be, will be,

 

not what we hear, but inevitably

transition lead to something new

leaves fall, rivers flow to the sea,

winter grey and white follows from autumn blue,

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but now we watch a French demon on our screen

drink wine and gasp at horror in a world not real

enjoy the make-believe land of the unseen

even as we long for something ideal, feel

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unmoored in this world, waiting for disaster

but finding moments of joy to savor

wanting some to slow, some to move faster—

what is the flavor

 

the scent, of time passing and flowing?

Cinnamon, nutmeg, lilacs, and rain

petrichor rising, snow falling, and fires blowing

smoke into the air—all these over and over again–

as cats play hide and seek,

and children now grown send love in photos,

and each week brings something good or bleak—

and so it goes.

 

In the liminal spaces

of this liminal season,

the moon hums, traces

her course, she has a reason

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even if we don’t know why,

(what questions to ask, the answers unknown)

but hush,  hear that sigh?

Listen closely, the moon’s lullaby.

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It’s been a crazy week with emotions blowing like the crazy winds. One deadline met, another still to go. We went to a concert at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, David Bromberg and Los Lobos. My husband joked that you had to be over 50 to get in–but wow–those musicians can play! We walked from the theater to Indiya restaurant and then back. We’re watching a horror show on Netflix called Marianne. One episode to go. It definitely made me jump a few times. It’s in French. Sorry, movie club fans, that’s the best I can do right now. I hope to get to the movies soon.

 

Remember–We Laughed

Monday Morning Musings

“We spend our lives trying to discern where we end and the rest of the world begins. “

–Maria Popova, Figuring

 

Ask–

as through the mist

a figure appears.

Examine–

real or specter,

as the sun shines

through the fog

What do you see?

***

I ask

what do you remember

of what, when, and who,

 

the memories accrued

over time, false with true

to mix with dreams, old and new.

 

I reflect

on reflections, in the glass

I see time pass

(Remember her laugh.)

 

I watch

the clouds, stormy river view

to dazzling blue

Delaware River from Patco

View of Delaware River from Patco Train

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I listen

for the secrets of trees and birds

and all the words

Swallows at Hawk Haven

Aerial show at Hawk Haven, Cape May

that never convey

truth, but hint—in some way

that trip in rhythm, dance, sway

 

delight—

in family and friends

as time twists and bends

 

We celebrate

watch comedians on the stage

turn the page

 

on a new chapter

gather after. . .

and after–

 

who knows?

 

(Remember this

and that–

remember to laugh.)

 

The woman says,

“You look just like your mother,”

and you wonder—

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then another woman says,

“Your daughter looks just like you,”

and you wonder if it’s true,

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or if it’s as when he says blue,

but you see green,

truth not always what it seems–

 

but you laugh

and smile, and drink more wine–

the day is fine

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though you ponder, wonder

what is in our minds,

it takes all kinds,

 

doesn’t it?

The killers and mad men

who change history, again and again—

 

But there is love, too,

and cats, and smiles

that travel across the miles

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You think,

I have few regrets—

as the moon rises and sets

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and the clouds sail away,

fears kept at bay,

love, please stay

 

to rise with the sun—

dawn break, the day begun.

 

We finished Season 2 of Mindhunters on Netflix, which got me thinking about minds. (Anyone else imagining Agent Ford singing “you’ll be back?”) Our son-in-law graduated from nursing school, and our daughter threw him a surprise party at Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia. Daughter and I went on a bus tour of three wineries in Cape May, NJ: Natali Vineyards, Willow Creek, and Hawk Haven.  I heard Mari Popova read on “Live from Here with Chris Thile.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ghosts Linger, a Legacy

Monday Morning Musings:

“Legacy, what is a legacy?

It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see”

From Lin-Manuel Miranda, “The World Was Wide Enough,” Hamilton

 

All ghosts linger–

they sail on secret rhythms,

brilliant in the joy

they celebrate

floating beyond

the melancholy twilight,

blushing in time’s embrace,

they laugh the poetry of morning

and cry midnight’s anguished tears.

***

Legend says—

at Yorktown, the British played

“The World Turned Upside Down”

 

But now

let’s sound the truth–

 

(facts unknown back in our youth)

 

of the airports there

and the rockets’ red glare

 

over forts that didn’t yet exist

 

People believe, they twist

facts to follow ignorance

 

a delightful dance

enhanced

 

by putting down others

smothering new thought

we say, we ought

 

to do this or that

 

and debate

ideas reborn, the hate

 

lingers, like ghosts

 

unfurl the blue, white, and red

we eat, well fed

 

find comfort and ease

with old friends,

 

no worries to please

 

they accept me

as I dance, don’t flee,

 

smile to see another side

of me (I sometimes hide)

 

well maybe it’s the drink

(very pink)

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but doubtful, I think

 

since I danced around my kitchen

making ratatouille, listening

We’ll tell the story of tonight. . .

or we’ll forget

no regrets

 

in memories fragmented

by time segmented

 

the ghosts linger

like dreams

 

my mom tells, unreal,

but she feels

somehow, they appeal

 

false stories

in strange categories

 

one day weak

the next lucid, painting

no straining, no waning

her truth, her art

 

from her heart

that her eyes can’t see

 

she’s free in creating,

though it’s frustrating

 

for her and us

the ghosts linger, discuss

 

in whispers

we sisters fret

 

regrets,

but let’s

 

just do this

 

on another day, we’re fine

homemade pizza and wine

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Stranger Things

the Upside Down brings

 

relief, as believable

not inconceivable

 

in this crazy world,

where conspiracies unfurled

 

believed as fact

impossible to retract

 

swirling in tornado winds

we wait to see what sunshine brings

a new day

a new way

 

yet the ghosts linger in

 

morning laughter

midnight’s tears

 

all the ever afters

of joy and fears

 

future on past climbs–

we see the light

 

of stars long dead,

still traveling through time

 

in sparkling trains go, come

and still, a legacy

 

(enduring beyond)

 

the moon, she hums.

Full Moon over Woodcrest Station

 

Another strange week with presidential lunacy amidst his narcissistic parade, storms alternating with sunshine–and some quality time spent in the basement during a tornado warning! My mom is perfectly fine one minute, and totally not the next. We watch the new season of Stranger Things (still a couple episodes to go) on Netflix, but sometimes feel like we’re already living in the Upside Down.

 

 

 

 

 

Memories in Major and Minor

Monday Morning Musings:

“Music, when soft voices die,

Vibrates in the memory—”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Music When Soft Voices Die.” Full poem and analysis here

“When the dawn comes, tonight will be a memory too

And a new day will begin”

From Andrew Lloyd Webber, Trevor Nunn, “Memory,” Cats

 

 

We who were

are ghosts,

are almost not

lingering

 

here a slow smile,

there a kiss of fire—

this rhythmed dance

of remembering

 

ask her about the laugh,

wake him with the used-to-be

 

all now born away

by clouds and time.

***

A week that seems

both timeless and harried

behind us and carried—onwards

we go

 

from anniversary meal

the feel of fresh air

and laughter

people watching

and city-walking

talking of this and that

as texts fly

from sisters

all the sighs, the whys

of life

and strife

in the play

(on words)

mines underground

young lives destroyed

some never rebound

from unsound decisions

and derision

a corrupt system

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a week of memories

and old friends

who remember what

once was

comfortable pauses

and laughter

remembering

who we were

cherishing who we are—

 

there a wish

upon a star

as stormy skies clear

for sunset rays—

a stay

of hope

that beauty lasts.

We watch a movie

of ghosts

memories of things

unseen—and seen

pretty things that live

in the wall–

they call

from time

and books–

she looks on

staring

the women

sharing, imprisoned

by this house

 

We eat and drink

stop and think

laugh and talk

then take a walk

 

And then there are cats

onstage they prance

but at home, they entrance

with acrobatics

and sleepy glances

share our space

(caress that face)

 

we drift. . .

 

in dreams, memories come

and done

are things that never happened—

but seem so real

we feel

joy, terror, hope

beyond the scope

of everyday

 

wake to find the dawn

new day

the past a memory

the future looms

blooming like a flower

sweetly scented–

and thorned—

dropping seeds

and withering

to be reborn.

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We celebrated our wedding anniversary this week. We saw a play Minors, watched a Netflix movie, I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House. It’s the kind of horror movie I like, a ghost tale where you are not sure of what’s real (like Hill House)—not a full-of-blood slasher movie. Also, it has Ruth Wilson and Paula Prentiss.  We also saw Cats, which we only saw because it was part of a theater package—but I did enjoy it. All of the actors/dancers/singers were excellent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art and Craft

Monday Morning Musings:

“It will be as if we never existed if our history cannot be read.”

― Minette Walters, The Last Hours

Ask about time–

or the night–

the woman of then

the woman of now

listen and remember

the voice of the universe calls.

***

 

In the book,

many people die.

They wonder why–

what they’ve done,

so many gone

from this new plague.

They question

their narrow existence,

wonder about resistance

and the distance

between people

and place.

And then the rats–

so many, except

where there are cats.

 

It’s a new world,

the crash of the feudal,

for rebuilding, crucial

to have the art and craft

survival skills and more–

and even serfs may leave

the manor, to soar

 

like the clouds that come

with thunder and rain

then blow away again

to reveal blue skies

and days that surprise

one with their beauty.

We visit the fountain,

the water spouting

in wind-blown sprays,

and children laughing

in all the ways

they can,

making sculptures

and eating free ice cream

(like a dream!).

A man tells me

about the turtle

he holds

over fifty years old,

he says,

points to her shell

and what it tells

of her age.

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Not as old as the fountain,

dedicated nearly one hundred years ago,

public art and public show,

the craft and skill creating

a place for people

for waiting, hesitating,

lingering, as the water gleams

over allegories of history and streams,

and water showers,

but we walk on

admire the colorful bowers

of flowers.

 

We visit my mother

sit outside, the air

is pleasant with a breeze

and birds sing in bushes

and trees.

We go inside to see some art

a show and reception–

she has some connection

to the club, if not the artists,

and she can’t see their art

but still she charts

a course around the room.

Later we talk about the paintings

she’s painted

the work she’s created,

and when she and my father dated,

the clothes she wore

in that time before.

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Painting by Sylvia Schreiber

One of my mom’s paintings

 

We leave her before dinner

to walk some more

this glorious day

stop to say

hello to Rodin, and stay

for a drink in the statue garden,

the view a delight,

and we linger

but leave before night.

I see my daughters and their friend

almost like when they spent

all their time together

–birds of a feather—

all creative,

two artists, two who also write,

all who see the darkness and the light.

Soon all will be married

with husbands and wife.

These three—I wish them all

a happy life.

We binge on Netflix

eat nachos, and dream

of what the world might bring,

and I delight

to hear the birds sing

in morning chorus and in the night.

Sweet Potato Nachos with Mango Salsa

Sleepy cats lie

in peace, as I wish we could all–

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the art and craft of living

and dying,

history told in statues and stories

past, present, future fold

the moon hums and sighs

while time flies by.

Morning Moon, June 2019, Merril D. Smith

Here is some history on the Swann Memorial Fountain.

I read  The Last Hours by Minette Walters. She is known for her crime fiction. This is her first historical novel. It’s set during the “Black Death” plague of the fourteenth-century. The lady of the manor seems somewhat too enlightened, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sun and Storms, NaPoWriMo

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Monday Morning Musings:

“Presentiment – is that long Shadow – on the Lawn –
Indicative that Suns go down –

The Notice to the startled Grass

That Darkness – is about to pass –“

–Emily Dickinson A brief analysis here.

“Oh, how this spring of love resembleth, The uncertain glory of an April day,

Which now shows all beauty of the Sun, And by and by a cloud takes all away”

–William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act I Scene 3

 

Startled? Yes, I’ll say.

Startled awake as the cell phone plays

keening beeps, an alert. I’m dazed

read, “Tornado Warning, Take Shelter.”

 

Did you see them?

The words on the screen?

Not a drill, no they mean

hurry now, no time to grab all the things,

no time for caffeine, keys, or rings

 

I’m roused,

my body tired, but fired

 

I wake my husband, carry phone and one cat

down to the basement, there we sat

on a blanket by the stairs,

litter boxes nearby, but no chairs,

with bare feet, in PJs and tank shirt

waiting, (while the cats pee) but unhurt

 

by the storm. The radio announcer says,

this system’s killed people, he acknowledges

in the south, and I’m glad I heard this after

the all-clear, or my fear would have been greater.

 

(Were my clogged ears, a presentiment

of pressure dropping,

hmmm. . .are they’re popping?)

 

I think the rain is stopping

(at least for now).

and the birds are singing sweet and strong

glorious in their morning songs

telling the world that they are here,

announcing for now that all is clear.

 

***

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Looking out after the early morning storm

I think of this past week in April

uncertain glory, each day

it seems, from bright to grey

shadows, sun, storms, each give way.

We went with friends into the city

We go on the train

(the forecast rain)

But when we arrived, the sky was bright

and the sun shone with April light

on flowers pink, white, yellow–

and mellow the temperature and breeze

softly stirring trees.

 

We sat outside, drank wine, ate cheese

feeling fine, and at ease,

wanting to hold this moment—please—

but we went

as the sky changed then–

and April rain fell again.

 

In more shadows and light,

we played with puppies, such a sight,

doggy kisses and wrestling moves

hard to resist, and it just proves

the bonds between animals,

the bonds between us and them

Once again

we’re home

more sun, more clouds,

watching movies of zombies and spies,

surprises and lies,

in both we see people pretending to be some other

and we see others seeing what they want to see.

 

And I see presentiment—the long shadow–

but hope the clouds will pass,

we’ll come to our senses

before we suffer the consequences—

But for now, coffee, cats,

and later wine,

to sleep later,

perchance to dream—

of a beginning, not an end,

of love and caring and sharing

hope of this world—to mend.

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Today’s prompt, Day 15, is “to write your own dramatic monologue.”  I’m not sure that I’ve done that, but my Monday Musings are always sort of an internal monologue. . . The best I can do, since I’ve been awake since the tornado alert went off around 3:20 this morning.

Sorry, we haven’t been out to the movies in a few weeks, but we did watch two movies on Netflix. The Angel, trailer here, an Israeli-American film based on a true story of a spy. It was an interesting story,good, but not great.  And we saw Cargo, (trailer here)  an Australian zombie film–but wait, it’s not all that gory. It has a message about family, community, cross-cultural awareness, taking care of the earth, AND it has Martin Freeman.  Again, not the greatest movie ever, but enjoyable, and I liked it.

I also read a spy book, American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. Excellent. Here’s a review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time and Timeless

Monday Morning Musings:

“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.”

–Milan Kundera

Art and music travel through our genes, stopping at some destinations longer than at others, like the train our older daughter takes from Washington, D.C. after visiting archives at the Smithsonian. She takes hundreds of photos of sketch books, correspondence, diaries, and newspaper clippings of our artist ancestor, Abraham Hankins. She shows me newspaper articles—how his mapmaking skills saved his life in France during WWI because he was left behind to draw maps when the rest of his unit was sent into battle and killed. He also trained as a singer, until gassed during the war, and apparently, he wrote some poetry, too. But my daughter becomes even more fascinated by his French wife Estelle, called Esther by my family. After Abe’s death, Estelle makes it her mission to get her late husband’s work into major museums. There is still much to learn, and most of the people who lived then are gone. It is my mom’s ninety-sixth birthday.

 

skipping stones hit pond

concentric circles ripple

spring turns to summer

Abraham P. Hankins,
Pocket Full of Dreams,
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Bequest of Mrs. Abraham Peter Hankins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We celebrate my mom’s birthday in sunshine with shades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

munch on snacks, laughter cascades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as we discuss pets and art and politics

with eyes rolling—intermixed–

as my niece describes her “other family,” with their alternate truth—

if only we could blame it on the folly of youth—

but salacious tales about the Clinton’s gleaned from right-wing memes,

treasure troves of garbage carried by the false fact streams

they insist it’s true,

what does one do?

We move on to sandwiches and cake

blow out the candles, make

each moment count, and we laugh, dance, and sing—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it’s in our genes, so let’s bring

it on in celebration of familial love

rock the ghosts from rafters above

and around, perhaps they watch from some place–

that shadow there, across your face.

 

The weekend is full with movies, puppies, and wine

we dance, laugh, eat, drink—feeling fine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mom tells us that Abe asked her mother to sing with him at a family gathering. She says her mother had a beautiful voice, but that my uncle, my mom’s baby brother, cried when their mother sang, so she stopped singing. I had forgotten, she says, but now I remember some of those songs she taught me. Songs of the shtetl that crossed the ocean. We, the grandchildren never learned the songs. I like to think though that no song is ever lost. Each note rises. Birds carry some, and others float high into the sky filling the clouds. I think that is why I hear music in the rain, and why rainbows sing, and the moon hums. We are filled with star music, and it returns again and again to us. Music flits like spindrift from the waves of time.

 

Stars sail ink-black seas,

cat against me softly snores,

dreams dance to moon song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadows Cast

Monday Morning Musings:

“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.”

–Fortune Cookie Wisdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moon music whispers

a lust for life—and light

in the darkness.

Ask—does the sky ache above

seeing death below?

There, like the shadow

that lies black beneath the rose.

***

The power of her voice in song–

now only her shadow sings–

caught on video and audio, sing along–

to “A Natural Woman,” it brings—

memories of a president’s tears,

as now a nation fears

the future filled with tweeting jeers.

 

He and they try to destroy the press

but those of us who cherish thought

protest. We need the freedom to express

ourselves without duress.

Though the shadow ones know—some are bought—

some are complacent, some complicit–

elicit the illicit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We sit outside, it’s still summer hot

though autumn hovers in the shadows

and we begin to think ahead, no, perhaps not—

there’s still time to sip wine, dip our toes

into pools or walk a sandy beach

and reach. . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

for love. Seek time with friends

fight the shadows, that lurk around us

and yes, we can’t know how it ends

hate is around, and it’s been ever thus.

It’s a fine line we walk

but we must talk

 

about the hate we see, it’s been freed

no longer do they lurk in the dark

the white-robed shadows proclaim their creed

of white supremacy–they bark

and parade in the open to dog whistles from above

and we must spark the light, the dove–

 

she flies somewhere high, beyond this rainy sky

where we walk through puddles on cobblestones

the air scented with summer flowers, and all the whys

float through the air, and do we care about the bones

that lie beneath us

the souls that flit above us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in the shadowed world, we cannot see

we shine a light, where is the door,

where is the key?

In the before,

we look for the after

and the in-between

is still to be seen.

 

There is no moral, this is no fable

but disaster can come suddenly, coffee spilled

across the table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A recap of my week. Aretha Franklin died, the nation’s press fought back against 45’s attacks, we drank wine, and we saw the movie BlackkKlansman. Trailer here.

Baskets

Monday Morning Musings:

“Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”
–Mary Oliver, Georgia Review (Winter 1981), 733.

“There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.”

“I have a right to be angry, but not to spread it.”

–Hannah Gadsby’s, “Nanette”

 

Ask why an ancient wind

rose beneath a hot sun–

they never will

see souls rustle in soft shade.

So,

murmur harmony

to nature’s song

and feel life bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

We listen to the woman, a masterful storyteller,

skilled at creating tension—and

relieving it with a punchline,

but in this set,

she lets the tension linger–

at least for a while

noting both her anger

and its reasons—

reasons that should anger us all.

I think of that,

as neo-Nazis gather in our nation’s capital.

Neo-Nazi? Why should there be new ones

after the defeat of the old ones?

I ponder the other labels–

shouldn’t we all be anti-fascist

and united against hate?

It should be the default mode, shouldn’t it?

 

The novel I’m reading is set in

the early 1930s in Berlin,

the female protagonist had a gay brother

who was murdered.

While they were growing up, she tried

to teach him what she called

“A Code of Masculinity,”

so, he could pass,

but he didn’t.

Hannah Gadsby

in the 1990s in Australia

was assaulted for not being

feminine enough,

she couldn’t pass either. But growing up,

in a culture where she was reviled, left its

legacy on her. She talks about the shame

she felt for being a lesbian, for being different.

 

I think about trying to explain

these weird and artificial binaries

to a visitor from another world,

But how could I,

when they make no sense to me?

You must be this color,

you must love this person,

you must be this religion. Why?

 

And where do I go with this? I seem to have

gone off on a tangent–because

I wanted to tell you about baskets.

Picture the basket itself,

woven together from strands of straw, reeds, or

even wire,

each one different.

And my life, also woven of many different strands.

I weave my basket, and sometimes I take it apart

and start over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, let me tell you how

we celebrated the anniversary of my father’s birth—

He would have been ninety-nine. He’s been dead for twenty years,

and I still miss him.

We toasted him with wine–

and ate ice cream afterward,

because he loved ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We eat Pakistani food with our younger daughter and her husband,

enjoying samosas and other delights

as their dog and cat circle the table,

where there were no scraps tossed,

but love drips,

like melting ice cream,

because it can be messy,

but there is plenty to go around.

 

I could tell you about being with

dear friends over the weekend,

how we eat pizza,

and discuss that new normal, how

it is difficult not to discuss politics

but at the same time,

conversations are fraught

with hesitation—or anger.

How can one be friends with someone

who supports a racist?

 

The saying goes, “Don’t put all your eggs

in one basket.”

We should welcome those who think

differently or look different.

And isn’t part of the joy of having

a full basket

come in examining its contents?

 

There is so much we do not see.

We toss everything

in the basket of life, and pull out what we need

or what we want. But maybe sometimes

we need to look at the basket itself.

 

There is no punchline here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We watched “Nanette” on Netflix. Trailer here.

I’m reading the novel A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell.