See Her: Earth Day, Poetry Month

Oh, the whales! In the sea, breaching waves, free to be
just a mom, or a calf, not baleen, or whale blubber—
no more brigs, no more sails, not these ships, that they flee,
not the past, but the now, the whale fishers. They’ll shoot her
and scrub her, her meat sold, and her fat—but a plea

to see her there in the sea. I’m a mother. So is she.

For dVerse where Björn has asked us to write anapestic tetrameter. Well. . .this is an attempt. I had a second stanza, and I just scrapped it. I think the poem works better without it. This was definitely hard.
This poem is also for Earth Day, which is today.

Several years ago, we visited our daughter and her wife who lived in Boston at the time, and we went on a whale tour, where we saw whale mothers and babies. Whales were a significant trade in New England and elsewhere in the nineteenth-century

Eurydice to Orpheus

Dear Orpheus, I hope this letter finds you well.
I don’t know how long it will take to reach you—
the service here is somewhat unreliable, and truth to tell,
it’s hard to get through,

Charon is cranky, and the ferry service rather slow–
But what I really wanted to say–
don’t wait for me. I mean, you’re not immortal. Show
the world your music, play

those magical riffs. To be honest, I was mad–
I mean really, you just had to look?
I struggled, so sad
and it took. . .

it seemed forever, but time is different here.
I’m finally settled, fitting in—
of course, I miss the sun, the light, the clear
blue sky, warm skin.

(Our shadows shapes of what has been,)

And—I’ve met someone.
He makes me laugh,
he’s a bit tone deaf, but he’s so much fun—
he works on Hade’s general staff.

So, take care, my love. I wish you all good things,
though I hope you’ve learned more self-control.
Our life together is gone. We’ve cut the strings.
Perhaps we’ll meet again, soul-to-soul–

unless you become a star. . .I heard a rumor about your lyre.

With fond remembrance, Eurydice.

For dVerse, where Sanaa is hosting. She has asked us to write an epistolary poem. I had a bit of fun with this.

For the Women in My Life: International Women’s Day 2021

Swifter than swifts, the years fly,

time drifts
and shifts
passing dove-soft and eagle-fierce. Cry for

generations lost
mother gone, but sisters here,

my cygnets grown swan-regal; adoring and adored,

I’m fortunate
to have love, wisdom, goodness—

feather-winged treasures, these women,
the bird-goddess sings.

For dVerse, Sarah asks us to use the word swift in a quadrille. It is also International Women’s Day 2021. The theme this year is Choose to Challenge, so this is a small tribute to my mother, sisters, and daughters, who have all challenged life and norms in some way. Ingrid at Experiments in Fiction is doing an International Women’s Day Challenge.

Moon Song Blooms

Morning Moon with Gulls, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Moon song drifts,
over pink-glowed sea.
Gulls gather
to hear the
tune and circle-dance, catching
currents, sing along

with dawn moon’s
farewell. Remember
me tonight-

her refrain
floats, feather-white, and fleeting,
falls to warming earth

is planted
as sparkling star-gulls
flock to light,
and geese pair,
delight to share longer days,
and moon-song blooms white.

For dVerse Open Link Night where Linda is hosting. This is a shadorma sequence that I’m also linking to Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenge. I said about the top photo that the gulls in the picture look liked stars, and Colleen called them “star-gulls.” Originally, I was going to share a diatelle I wrote about the Hindenburg, which Linda mentioned on the dVerse prompt. However, I can’t ignore it was a Nazi propaganda ship, and the poem got very dark, and I feel more like celebrating spring today. Our crocuses are starting to bloom!

Beginnings and Endings

“As if we could hear music inside the words”
–Gail Newman, “Trust”

I hear, but cannot stop the chirp of time,
it travels in waves with the flap of wings,

and in flowing light it sings,
celestial harmonies pulsing in shimmers–

even caged, it chitters and cheeps,
dives and circles, soars and sweeps
past to future, a never-ending story

of bangs and fury, prismed glory
that curves and repeats—again and again

I become my mother and my daughters, all the before and ever-after,
my words are carried on a glittering song,
the essence of my universe, music and laughter.

This is for dVerse, where on Tuesday, Laura asked us to “begin at the end” by using one of the final lines she supplied to influence our own poem. She asks us to think about our own ending lines. Today, Peter asks us to consider our beginning lines.

Ever since I read this article about a Blackfoot woman who translated astrophysics terms into the Blackfoot language, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about chirping stars.

Remember

Winslow Homer, Dutch Doors

When Pierre finally arrived at the safe house, it was empty. A chair by the table was overturned, a broken plate lay on the floor. Nothing else seemed disturbed. Below the loose fireplace brick, he found some money and a letter.

Dear P–

My love! Where are you? I sense danger snapping at my heels–I fear I’ll never see you again. But–
reading what I have just written, I now believe—I MUST believe—we’ll see each again—soon!

Remember our woods, the spring—no one can take away those memories.

All my love forever,

J.

What have I done? he thought, as he shoved the note into his pocket. Grabbing a stale bit of bread he found in a cupboard, he filled his flask and left—not knowing where he was headed, only hoping it was towards her—and not too late.

Back to my spies for a bit of prosery flash for dVerse. Lillian is hosting and asks us to use this line:

“Reading what I have just written, I now believe” from Louise Gluck’s “Afterward.”

Always the Clouds

JMW Turner, “Norham Castle Sunrise

 

 

Always the clouds come, drifting

colored in the hazy shades of ever-after,

yet distant stars glimmer through, sifting

light diffused from ancient gas and matter,

 

colored in the hazy shades of ever-after

time travels on, translucent or opaque

light diffused from ancient gas and matter,

and so, we ache

 

as time travels on. Translucent or opaque,

our thoughts grow dimmer to dark,

and so, we ache—

forgetting glory, gone our spark.

 

Our thoughts grow dimmer to dark

muttering and sputtering of past wrongs,

forgetting glory. Gone the spark

of former days and daisy chains and songs.

 

Muttering and sputtering of past wrongs,

we dream in owl-feathered night

of former days and daisy chains and songs–

then wait for lark-trilled light.

 

We dream in owl-feathered night,

as distant stars glimmer through, sifting

(our thoughts) as we wait for lark-trilled light,

but always the clouds come, drifting.

 

 

This is for Peter’s prompt on dVerse. He’s asked us to think about sound. Kerfe had me thinking of pantoums, and so I revised one that I wrote in April.

Moon Dreams

In their dreams, they sleep with the moon, though I don’t think they remember it– the moon. Kirsten says she does, but she was only three when we left. Still, it’s become our bedtime ritual to say good night to things, even if she and Lilly are too old for picture books. We have no telephones or red balloons–or kittens and mittens, for that matter. I hold on to my tattered copy of Good Night Moon—print books are rare and treasured, this one especially so because I remember Jonas reading it to the girls. They and I managed to escape on the last ship from Earth. We’ll never see it or the Moon again. We’ll never see you again. Good night, moon; good night, my love. I’ve become the old woman whispering, “hush,” but in my dreams, I sleep with you.

I’m hosting dVerse today for Prosery Monday. For this prompt, everyone must use the line “In their dreams they sleep with the moon.” It’s from Mary Oliver’s, “Death at Wind River.” Good Night Moon is a popular picture book. My husband and I had it memorized at one point. **Also, a reminder that Thursday’s dVerse will be a live event.

Who’s Listening

In early America, neighbors eavesdropped
from other rooms, behind the shed, from a bed.

Now, the surveillance is also electronic
from devices, lovers (or friends platonic),
scammers and crooks hear what you say—
the powers-that-be, also may—

hear all. Who knows
where conversations go?

Kim is hosting dVerse, and she has asked us to use the word eavesdrop in a quadrille. My dissertation/first book was on marital discord in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Pennsylvania. Court papers and divorce depositions often included the testimony of neighbors or people living in or visiting the household. And yes, sometimes listening to a sexual encounter while lying in the same bed.

A Laugh Wings

A laugh wings–
flies through memories and
dreams. Sings like a mockingbird, repeats
again, imprinted in our minds, within our genes–
well, who’s to say? We remember a
glance, words said—heart-haunted—
we grasp, hold.

For Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, I’m trying a triquain, a form I found on Shadow Poetry. “The Triquain, created by Shelley A. Cephas, is a poem with several creative variences and can be a rhyming or non-rhyming verse. The simpliest form is a poem made up of 7 lines with 3, 6, 9, 12, 9, 6, and 3 syllables in this order.” [Misspellings in original.]

My Mom had the best laugh.

I’m also linking this to dVerse, Open Link Night, where Grace is hosting.