Dance

Monday Morning Musings:

“And may the spirit of this song

May it rise up pure and free

May it be a shield for you

A shield against the enemy”

–Leonard Cohen, “Lover, Lover, Lover”

 

“Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on

Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long

We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love”

–Leonard Cohen, “Dance Me to the End of Love”

 

My absent daughter

draws the golden peacock

but forgets the fallen feather

can also be a quill

to write the words that dance

upon the page of time,

and from love and grief

and longing

the phrases soar in endless flight–

to bear witness of love and loss

in song to spread the light

***

In this week

of lies and revelation

we go about our lives

without hesitation

because there are deadlines

and care

for those we love

and responsibility

to share—

but oh, the sky,

the clouds

the air

that shimmers

and glimmers

on dew drops

in the morning light

that sight–

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and the honk of geese

in victory flight

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and so,

we take a break

forget the cake

I still must bake

 

reflect

upon each passing sight

on this autumn day

the sun is bright

and summer-like

but inside cooler

as the lights dim

and the show begins

the dancers strong

and full of grace

without a trace

of doubt, fluid lines

muscle and bone

move together, alone

upon the stage

they dance

homage to poetic phrase

in each turn or raise

of arm and leg

and yes, I say

it was worth it to pay

though now

I’m even more

behind

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I see love–

coming and going

and isn’t that always the way?

spring to summer and fall

and before long

winter will come

and will we dance then at all?

Yes, I think

we will add layers

to layers

and though our hair

will turn greyer

still we’ll laugh

and dance, press

on

 

my sister-niece says

I love mom’s belly laugh,

and we all agree

a bright spot

in a gloomy sea

that seems endless–

a beacon, a buoy

we embrace,

when she and the world is screwy.

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And though there are fewer

at our holiday table

and we miss those unable

to be with us,

we laugh and talk

and drink our wine

dip apples in honey–

that boy is so funny

the way he loves my challah—

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we eat the meal

and here’s the deal—

time moves on

but our traditions remain

so, there’s brisket and kugel

for the year to be sweet, not dull–

bright gold of pumpkin soup

and before long, dessert—

 

in and endless loop

the seasons pass

and years dance on

from dusk to dawn

in saraband or waltz

sorrow, love–

with just a bit of schmaltz

 

we say our goodbyes

and sigh

(though the men roll their eyes)

we need that family compound

so we can all come around

whenever need be.

That could be

easier for all of us, you see

 

time will tell

somehow, dwell

on the here and now,

we have each other

and sleepy cats—

there is that.

 

We clean up,

put away each dish

I pause, wish

to dance to the end

of light

as it bends

refracts

and twirls

to begin again.

 

Dream–

the spirit of this song.

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Last night was the start of Rosh Hashanah. Wishing all of you a very sweet year!

One of my daughters posted her drawing of a golden peacock from Jewish tradition and a message about what it means to her. You can see her Instagram post here. 

We saw Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal perform Dance Me, “an exclusive creation inspired by the rich and profound work of Montreal-based poet, artist, and songwriter, Leonard Cohen” (from the program notes). You can see some excerpts here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travelers

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Monday Morning Musings:

 

“My baby takes the morning train

He works from nine till five and then

He takes another home again

To find me waitin’ for him”

Florrie Palmer, “Morning Train (Nine to Five),” (Recorded by Sheena Easton)

 

“Why do you write like you’re writing out of time?”

Lin Manuel Miranda, “Non Stop,” Hamilton

 

“Legacy. What is legacy?

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

Miranda, “The World Was Wide Enough,” Hamilton

 

“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”

–Lin Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

 

Blue wind soars

into a day of pink and peach

recall this picture– or forget

how the rhythm of earth

turns grey to dazzling bright,

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and the magic of a cat

in a long, liquid stretch

with a purr that transfers

burrowing into your soul

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How does it happen—

 

that the light of ghost stars

dances into your morning horizon

and you vow to remember this

 

how it travels

in light years

 

but blink—

and it’s gone.

***

We catch the train

walk a cobblestone lane

 

and past the willow tree

where Hamilton’s bank peeks softly

Willow tree at Dock Creek, Philadelphia

through branches still green

past, present, what might have been

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but here we are

to watch women on trapeze bar

 

climbing silks, twirling on a hoop

they move in the air, dance, swoop

 

in transit, a search

for love, a perch

above offers reflection

(and they are perfection)

 

in strength and skill

traveling without a spill

 

from any apparatus

and those hearts grab us

 

the emotions she carries

with colors that vary

 

red, black and blue

well, we understand, do you?

 

The red given to lovers, the black

weighing her down, from the lack–

 

but friends help with the burden

though life is still uncertain.

 

We so enjoy the show

then it’s time to go

 

past a wedding

heading

 

from where the Founding Fathers’ prayed

bridal party and guests all finely arrayed

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and we walk and people-watch

from a little swatch

 

with drinks and apps

then perhaps

it’s time to walk

and talk

 

down streets and alleys

where people have rallied,

 

where a Revolutionary generation

fought, died, and built a nation–

to reflect on light

as we travel into the night.

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We catch the train

the next day—again

 

over the bridge, high

above where boats sail by

Delaware River from Patco train

eat a pre-theater meal

and I’m so excited, I feel

happy to be here

(Hamilton walked near)

 

lucky to be alive right now–

and wow!

the show lives up to every expectation

and anticipation,

 

believe the hype, what they say is true

it’s brilliant through and through.

 

I cry a bit after Philip dies

but laugh and clap, too, and time flies

 

till we’re heading home on the train

again.

 

And though moon peaks from a cloud

humming—not too loud

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Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?

 

I dream of things I don’t understand

of Hamilton, and far off lands

 

of immigrants who get things done–

well, my grandfather was one.

 

But where does a dream go

between slumber and slowed

 

breathing and thinking

thoughts slinking

 

and winking in your mind

till you wake to find

 

the dream’s traveled far

beyond time, and where are

 

they? Where do they go

when they’ve flowed

 

from your brain,

but sometimes appear again?

 

My mother asks if my father’s alive

and I ponder and strive

 

to find a way

to say–

 

cause he died

years ago, not alive

 

but I’m helpless when she insists

and the dreams twists

 

then falls away.

 

So, I write, prose and rhyme

because I’m running out of time

 

planting seeds, a legacy

she’ll never get to see.

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We saw In Transit, a show that’s part of the Philadelphia Fringe line-up this year. We both really enjoyed it, and this group of women of Tangled Movement Art who we’ve seen perform before. They combine theater and circus art. “Morning Train” was a song that was repeated throughout the show. Then, of course we saw Hamilton. The show is a bit of a love song to NYC, but Philadelphia knows Hamilton walked here, too.

I’m delayed today because my computer decided to eat my file, but fortunately, I was able to recover it. Moment. Of. Panic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s Labor

Monday Morning Musings:

“It is summer-gone that I see, it is summer-gone.

The sweet flowers indrying and dying down,

The grasses forgetting their blaze and consenting to brown.”

From Gwendolyn Brooks, “A Sunset in the City” 

 

“Therefore—we do life’s labor—

Though life’s Reward—be done—

With scrupulous exactness—

To hold our Senses—on—”

Emily Dickinson 

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Dawn comes with a song colored in a blush of dusty pink

whispering secrets

I am light

glowing honey gold

through rose-tinged clouds.

I am sound,

the buzzing drone

of a cicada,

the eager chirping of a sparrow

looking for love.

Look–

Listen–

soon come the shadows

black in the moonlight–

soon comes the silence,

save the skittering of night creatures

over dry brown leaves.

***

It is a week of reflection

abjection and affection

 

glowering grey

and love that stays

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true in hue

though the world’s askew.

 

Hurricanes and guns,

the loss daughters and sons

 

to senseless violence

and no defenses

 

do we have for either wind

or fury underpinned

 

by those in power—

but here in a bower

 

a garden of flowers

we sit for hours.

My mother naps

as the sparrow flaps

 

his wings to no avail–

though he chirps and flails

 

the lady sparrow ignores him

as he follows from limb to limb

 

and along the concrete wall

calling, calling to all

 

“I am here,

my beauty, appear!”

 

On this Labor Day weekend

we labor and bend

 

to the inevitable end

of summer and life, we send

 

thoughts outward with the breeze

we tease

 

joy for moments when we can

flowers, family, pets, wine—and

I remember how my mother worked

and didn’t shirk

 

her duty to home or even nation

bucking rivets, no vacation

 

I’m sure, she tells me of a woman there

who stands up for her—the righteous everywhere—

 

when the haters hate

six million dead does not set them straight.

 

Still, she worked all her life

in stores, as mother and wife

 

and after. An aunt worked sewing

and I wonder, not knowing

 

what the factory was like,

and if they ever went on strike,

 

but my mother got to borrow her clothes

and so, it goes

 

she met my father who lives in her dreams–

he lives on in seams

 

stitched with invisible thread

in memories real and false, but we tread

 

lightly because what else can we do–

as we sit under a sky of September blue

 

knowing that autumn is coming,

but the moon will keep humming,

 

and we will labor, love, and play

life beyond us will go on, each day

 

green or barren, this earth

laboring, revolving, giving birth

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to new possibilities, hopes, and fears

in endless cycles over thousands of years.

 

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Today is Labor Day here in the U.S.  The Mormon Temple near where my mom lives has a lovely little garden square that is open to the public.  We enjoyed wine and cheese at Tria, where on Sunday’s they offer specials that they call “Sunday School.”  My mom recently told me that a woman defended her when a man or men uttered anti-Semitic slurs at her–while she was working as a “bucker” for riveters during WWII.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Us All

Monday Morning Musings:

“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.”

―Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

“Of what is past, or passing, or to come.”

–W.B. Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium”

 

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A breeze drifts from blushing sky,

Robin sings reveille, a new day wakes

carrying time’s perfume,

a scent of days blended over and over

in a soft voice

the woman asks the day

and wonders where time has gone,

but it is still here—

she gazes through a window,

a young woman looks back

***

In these last days of August

as summer goes a-rambling,

and we go scrambling–

 

in this odd uneven time

of thunderstorms and brilliant sun

we see summer almost done

 

when temperatures fall,

as do a few leaves,

but it deceives

 

we’ll have heat rise again,

even as vultures soar

high above the shore

and insects skitter

and crawl–

but that’s not all

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Cicada-eating wasp

Great Horned Caterpillar

Great Horned Caterpillar at Red Bank Battlefield, NJ

 

we see as we walk

in parks and city streets,

hearing the beats

 

of different drums

people, creatures, machines strum

and hum, but come

 

see fountains glittering

with diamond droplets flying

and spirits sighing

Swann Memorial Fountain Glittering in the Sun, Philadelphia

as they dance to the sky

where sun-stippled,

and wind-rippled

 

they form clouds

that cross the far expanse

of blue, and dance

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into the night

and daughters come with smiles

across the miles

 

to visit. We drink wine

on a beautiful day

wishing days like this would stay

Wine Down Summer Wine Festival, Riverwinds, NJ 2019

 

 

and winter never come.

When flowers and bugs will die

and Persephone in darkness sigh

 

for light and mother-love.

But in the now we celebrate–

never too late, to grab a plate

 

to dine and drink

to talk

to walk

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to give heart-felt wishes

to laughs and kisses

to be happy for all of this

 

And so,

on her 97th birthday I write:

“On this day,

this is what I wish for you–

 

the love in memories,

the love in now.”

 

And for us all

the moon hums a lullaby,

a wish for love and gentle goodbyes.

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I went a bit overboard with photos, but my mom turned 97 this weekend. Since a few weeks ago, we thought she wouldn’t reach this event, it was extra-special. Older daughter came from Massachusetts, and we went to a wine festival, then visited her sister at her new part-time job at Blue Cork Winery. Then yesterday was my mom’s party. For once, the weather cooperated, too–what a beautiful weekend!

Her Voice

 

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My mother’s voice is soft now. Her words slur and drift off in a breeze. But today she laughs, and the sparrows twitter and chirp, carrying that laugh up to the sky.

Dawn rises giggling

rose-tipped clouds streak summer sky—

shadows dance on ground

 

For dVerse, where De has asked us to write a quadrille (a poem of 44 words, any style) using the word voice.

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Connections

Monday Morning Musings:

“Why lay yourself on the torturer’s rack

of the past and future?

The mind that tries to shape tomorrow beyond

its capacities will find no rest?

–Rumi from “That Lives in Us” 

“I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.”

–Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

 

The moon sails through time

over and over

through the purple sky.

We sit in the dark

and watch it

together

in a universe of only

and always

dazzled

to wake from dreams . . .

feeling the ghosts

in the breezes,

lingering.

***

On the day of the storm

the sun blazed,

and animals were dazed

 

by the glare as his chariot rose

higher and higher.

But the gods conspired

 

and sent the wind

and rain to shower

the flowers, but taking our power

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The storm rolling in

away for a day.

So, we sat in the twilight,

then read by flashlight

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Making the best of the situation when the power went out.

 

and fortunately,

the air had cooled—

but we weren’t fooled,

 

we knew

it was only a temporary stay

from heat and humidity, but hey,

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Carpenter’s Hall all a-flower

we’ll enjoy it while we can

walk in the city, eat ice cream–

talk and dream.

In the movie we see

the family lies

Is it wise?

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Who knows?

Done to be kind

though they’re in a bind

 

about how

to carry out the hoax.

There are tears and jokes–

 

a crowd-pleasing film

of cultural clashes

and flashes

 

of tenderness

in family gatherings and meals–

and the deals

 

we make

as we scatter

world-weary, what matters

 

still are our connections,

the invisible ties,

the love and lies,

 

that bind

generating power and loss,

crisscrossing

 

synaptic bursts

through wires and minds

creating dreams and incredible finds.

 

But the loss

when there’s a faulty connection

the hesitation and misdirection.

 

In my mom’s mind

dream and reality blur—

sometimes–and I’m not sure

 

how it works at all.

Past, present, future circle round

intertwine–wiring unsound?

 

Perhaps. Or do ghosts come to visit?

That shadow almost seen?

What is it? Where has it been?

 

I don’t know tomorrow

I can’t shape the past

or make fine weather last.

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A beautiful summer night at William Heritage Winery, New Jersey

 

but I enjoy the moment

of summer fruits, the flavors

bursting, bits of sunshine savored

before the next storm. . .

and sometimes magic just appears.

 

We got free tickets to a preview of The Farewell. Trailer here. We enjoyed it very much, and it seems like the rest of the audience did, too. Lulu Wang also told the story of the movie—her real life story on an episode of This American Life

We’re watching a series on Netflix now called Typewriter. It’s marketed as a sort of Indian Stranger Things, mainly because it involves four kids. They’re middle school age. It’s not very scary (yet), but I’m enjoying it. Trailer here.

I also heard a recent episode of This American Life about a young woman held as a prisoner by her biological parents in Pakistan. She only had one book to read—that she kept hidden—and read over and over again hundreds of times.  It was Little Women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fleeting Impressions

Monday Morning Musings:

“Painted portraits have a life of their own that comes deep in the soul of the painter.”

–Vincent van Gogh, 1885

 

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Angels dance across the sky

kissing the grass with morning dew–

there, a door opens,

there, a door closes

ephemeral as a ghost.

Do you hear the belly laugh

emerging from the silence?

It is wild and warm,

life.

***

Impressions of a week,

moments stored, like snapshots

a truth we seek, we speak

 

of how my mom is weak

our lives tied-up in knots,

and the world is often bleak,

 

but we take a long walk

by fountains and statues,

we talk

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Swann Memorial Fountain, Logan Square, Philadelphia

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“Social Justice” Philadelphia Museum of Art, Association for Public Art

of family, admire brushstrokes and dots

in bathers, poplars, and fields–

impressions formed from all these spots.

I want to be in this scene

I say, and wonder what it’d be like—

I dream. . .

 

but we walk past the sycamore trees,

an urban oasis, cool in the summer heat

from the welcome breeze

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Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

in the garden, a rabbit darts

and bees flit, while birds sing

perhaps all patrons of the arts?

 

The Impressionists would enjoy

the gardens here, I think.

As we walk, I see a little boy

his shirt, says “Just Do It,”

and he looks eager to—

my impressions flit . . .

 

It’s a beautiful July day.

We drink wine, eat cheese,

wanting a moment to stay

 

here, in a bit of peace,

sitting, dreaming, a sidewalk café

(though the texts don’t cease)

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Tria, Washington West, Philadelphia

we drink wine and beer,

eat luscious cheese,

and find some cheer that we’re here.

Then a day with our daughter

(more wine and cheer)

she tells me how her father taught her

and her husband how to fix things.

and we talk of friends and dreams,

and how funny it is, the way life brings

 

us to these moments, and all the feelings—

love and tears, dogs, house, spouse—

the roller-coaster ride that sends us reeling

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and hallucinating. Yet we stop,

read a book, sit here

in a pleasant, tranquil spot. . .

 

Impressions, fleeting

they come together

completing

 

somehow, my life.

Impressions–look, see

forget the moments of strife—

 

there, the lucent moon sails high

her ship glowing

across the sapphire sky.

Morning Moon, June 2019, Merril D. Smith

 

. . .and there are cats.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Going Forth–Haibun

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Today tanks roll through the nation’s capital, and jets fly over a divided country, but I remember another Fourth of July where people came together to witness a union. Outside fireworks boomed and flared, but inside, love lit up the room. No excess displays are needed to whitewash the facts. Here, we share a couple’s happiness. With the stomp of a goblet, we’re reminded of the simple truth that love. . . is love is love is love. . .and that it endures.

 

lovers stand and watch

colors streak across the sky—

shattered glass echoes

through time, a kaleidoscope,

love forms and reforms again

 

Today is my younger daughter and son’s wedding anniversary. A few years ago, we celebrated three weddings within about two years. First our older daughter married her wife, then younger daughter married her husband, and then my sister married her wife. (You can find posts about them, if you’re interested, by searching Love and Marriage.)

This is a Haibun with a tanka instead of the traditional haiku for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. and Frank Tassone’s Haikai Challenge, “Independence.”