Ineffable

Monday Morning Musings:

Ineffable,
the word lingers from my dream
almost visible–

how to describe
the dream state,
a word floats in the air—

almost visible,
liminal,
the world of in-between.

Ineffable,
the world today,
inconceivable

that we let it happen—
the naked emperor rules,
the fools see what they want to see

despite fire, plague
the flaming hate
and the ceaseless lies

rekindling the blood libel,
as the full moon hums fiercely
in warning, in horror

we look on,
but also,
ineffable

the beauty
of lunar shimmer
and morning glow

of herons
and deer
and the serenity of the river flowing on

carrying ghosts and memories,
in its currents
time bends, reflecting and refracting

the past merges with the future,
till it, too, is ineffable.

I did wake up today with the work ineffable floating in my head. We didn’t go anywhere this week, but historian Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American email today reminded me of all the events that have happened within the past week—”It was only last Sunday– seven days ago– that the New York Times released information about Trump’s taxes. Since then, we’ve lived through Tuesday’s debate and the wildfire spread of coronavirus through the inner circle of the White House, along with other stories that would have crippled any other administration but that now pass by with hardly a ripple.” My morning walks and talking to loved ones is keeping me sane.

We ordered Chinese food this weekend and watched two Merril movies: I’m Thinking of Ending Things (on Netflix) and A White White Day, an Icelandic movie available to rent on Amazon Prime and other platforms. I liked both of them more than my husband did, but they are both movies I’m still thinking about. The actor who plays the main character in A White White Day is so compelling, and his granddaughter is very cute. I’m Thinking of Ending Things, is a Charlie Kaufman film, so if you’ve seen his other movies, you know this will not be straightforward. There’s also a connection to Fargo, the TV show, not the movie. Jessie Buckley who plays the young woman in the movie, is in the new season, and her co-star, Jesse Plemons, was in an earlier season, as was David Thewlis, who plays his father. We’ve watched the first two episodes of the new season of Fargo, which is set in 1960 Kansas City, and we both like it so far.

I’m hosting dVerse today, so I’ll be back later. 😏

Here’s a another blue river shot for Liz.

Boat Slip, Delaware River, West Deptford, NJ ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

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

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to treetops, or into clouds.

Where do they go?

What do they think

of the shadow’s encroachment?

Is it an annoyance

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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

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upon a canvas,

the artist looked, remembering,

translating memories into color and form

each brushstroke, a touch from the past,

the whole, a memorial

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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–

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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

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never to be seen again,

but we may find a trace, a feather

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Feather–could it be a turkey feather?

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unimaginable Magic

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is suffering too terrible to name

You hold your child as tight as you can

And push away the unimaginable. . .

 

There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is a grace too powerful to name. . .

 

It’s quiet uptown”

-Lin Manuel Miranda, “It’s Quiet Uptown,” Hamilton

 

“The atoms that huddled for a cosmic blink around the shadow of a self will return to the seas that made us.

What will survive of us are shoreless seeds and stardust.”

–from Maria Popova, Figuring.

 

 

 No human voices break the silence,

but robins and mockingbirds sing, a woodpecker pecks,

crows caw wise warnings, geese honk greetings

I hear a whoosh above and a shadow flits before me, gone

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my own shadow remains, long-legged, invincible goddess–

if only,

she could push away the unimaginable,

the suffering, the families who will never hear a familiar voice.

She can’t. I can only I look for beauty and share

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the way sunbeams sift through early morning clouds,

the astounding variety of flowers in a multiplicity of hues,

rainbows revealed in sprinkler sprays, the sight of a deer family

the charcoal splendor of thunderclouds, the intense blue of the cloudless sky,

color and light, physics and magic, charm and fury—

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life itself, cycling love and loss,

we never imagine, don’t expect

plagues, freak accidents, revolutions—

we push away these thoughts

because to do otherwise, we could not go on

 

and on, we go,

craving life, survival

seeds of hope sprouting in unlikely conditions

growing, reaching for light,

for grace

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The tenacity of plants. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, July 2020. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

perhaps unimagined,

silence can be comfortable;

it can be lonely, too–

equal and opposite reactions,

we’re pushed and pulled

 

from the womb to ashes and dust

we ebb and flow

like the tides of river and sea

and yet traces of us survive forever

in shoreless seeds and stardust—

 

this is the unimaginable magic of the universe—

that in the sparkle of light on water

the past and future exist together,

holding love, loss

and hope.

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Delaware River

 

Merril’s Movie/Theater Club: We watched the Taiwanese movie A Sun (2019, Netflix). I don’t know if it’s the same in Mandarin, but in English, the title plays on the words sun and son. The movie is about family dysfunction and tragedy; the favored golden son who is working towards entering medical school and the younger son who predictably ends up in juvenile detention. But each member of the family has secrets and depths. After a tragedy, the family dynamics change. Though this movie is perhaps a bit too long, the acting is excellent, and the cinematography is beautiful.

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Whitall House with a tree decorated for the Fourth of July. Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

We celebrated Independence Day, the Fourth of July by watching Hamilton (Disney+). I don’t know if this is available outside the U.S. I subscribed to Disney+  for a month just for this, which was a bit annoying, but I don’t plan to keep it, since there’s not much else I’m interested in on that platform. Still, at $7 and change, it’s worth it. We’d pay more for a movie ticket at a theater. This film is compiled from two performances of the original Broadway cast production, but it includes camera angles that you would never see from sitting in the theater. I’ve discussed Hamilton before. Believe all the hype, it really is a wonderful show, and most likely I’ll watch it again while I can.

The excerpted lyrics above are about after Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza’s son Philip is killed in a duel. Alexander and Eliza have been estranged, but in this aftermath of their personal tragedy, they grow close again. Life goes on in the midst of revolutions and tragedies—people fall in love, babies are born, children die. History is never simply about battles and elections.

We ate and drank a glass to freedom (that’s a glass of sangria, banana chocolate chip cake with cream cheese frosting) Ricky was not interested in the first act, but enjoyed the second half. 😏

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any War, Every War

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Comet Hale-Bopp Attribution: Philipp Salzgeber / CC BY-SA 2.0 AT (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/at/deed.en)

 

Any War, Every War

affects

the heart and mind–

bodies weak, spirits dark

waiting for illumination,

succor

 

within

the downtrodden,

aided by the helpers–

they fight their own weariness, yet

they smile,

 

offer

hope like beacons–

fog lights glowing through murk,

beams cutting through storms, resisting

always

 

with deeds

as well as words

carried in their hearts–peace,

justice, truth, freedom–and then, hope

rising

 

rising

sun, moon, and stars

shoot through the sky, falling

in brilliant clouds, surrounding us

with light

 

and so,

we look again,

up to the sky, seeking

beauty, if not hope, shooting light

at us.

 

 

For Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday using the theme I chose, this quotation from The Merchant of Venice:

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

This is a cinquain sequence where each stanza can stand alone, but also connects to form one poem. I’ve used the syllable/line form of a Crapsey Cinquain, though I don’t think the meter is right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps

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Monday Morning Musings:

“Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

 

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.”

Pablo Neruda, Keeping Quiet”

 

On the inside, looking out

as the earth comes alive

white-flowered and robin-trilled,

visible joys

invisible hazards

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Tiny Beautiful Things

torment us–

miasma, they once believed,

poisonous vapor,

now we know a virus drifts and sits—

stay far away, wear a mask,

 

and wash your hands—

“Out damned spot! Out—”

we say

in collective panic, guilt,

and a truthful reminder

 

of scientific fact,

facts, a dear commodity

often ignored, as if invisible,

against the gaudy lies,

pink flamingos standing on one leg.

 

But now the world is upside down,

will we value the invisible

in the after

as we never did in the before?

Stop, take a breath–

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Puddle Reflection–the upside down world

 

remember the dreams.

“My mother told me this story,”

I say in mine.

It is not a true story

of my grandmother,

 

but it is a story of women,

of carrying on,

of working and making do,

my inner me reminds me

of this—but also to dream, to smile.

 

My mother visits with my dead father,

she walks an imaginary pet dog

through hallways she cannot walk,

dreamworld connections

beyond time and space,

 

we reach out

in our virtual Shabbos dinner–

again

connecting

and again

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The morning after–my work is done.

 

holding our friends

and loved ones however we can.

The world outside blooms, trees hold wisdom,

and the river still flows,

carrying ghosts and dreams.

 

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The gnarled, wise face of this mulberry tree.

 

I hope all of you and your loved ones are well. Sending virtual hugs to all of you! And cookies. I baked these Hamantaschen yesterday.

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Merril’s Movie Club: we watched three totally different movies this week. All on Prime.

The Handmaiden, a Korean movie (in Korean and Japanese) inspired by Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, with the setting changed from Victorian London to Korea in the 1930s. It is sumptuous, beautifully filmed, and erotic (NOT a family film) with sly, fun plot twists.

The Invisible Man. This new version with Elisabeth Moss is a fast-paced thriller (not horror). If I had seen it in the theater, I probably would have jumped in my seat more than I did. It is also about domestic abuse, which if you want to get all metaphorical, is often an invisible crime. It costs $20 to rent, but I had that much left on an Amazon gift card—plus we’re not going out to the movies.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco.This was one I had thought about seeing when it was playing in Philadelphia. I would definitely watch this one again, and of the three, my husband and I liked this one the most, and we thought if we had gone out to see it, we would have had a long post-movie discussion over wine for this one. Watching the trailer for this one just now, I wanted to see it again. It is inspired by the main character Jimmie’s real life story.  Perhaps it is a true-to-life fiction about dreams and lies. Nearly the entire cast (including the street corner Greek Chorus) has San Francisco connections. There are weird random bits within this movie that somehow just fit in–I suppose like when you walk through a city and see strange sights and people.

We also watched the Netflix series, Unorthodox, which is inspired by Deborah Feldman’s 2012 memoir. This is an excellent four-episode series—we watched two episodes each night—in Yiddish, German, and English about a Hasidic woman from Brooklyn who leaves her life and goes to Berlin. Israeli actress, Shira Haas is outstanding as the main character, Esty. Haas had to learn Yiddish for the role.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But At Last We Ask: Covid Poetry

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But at last we ask

in dreams,

as days fast-wane–

 

we ask

what we must recall

of sun on rocks,

 

and sprays of petals pink

against an impossible blue–

we ache–asking

 

does the moon hum

of if

or never?

 

We ask without language

for more words;

we ask to start over.

 

The Oracle knows what is going on around us. I decided to also incorporate the “More Words” “Start Over” message at the bottom of the magnetic poetry screen. The photo was taken last April.