Frost-Flowers and Spring

Monday Morning Musings:

Frost Reflections

Crystalline, they catch
and scatter light, frost-flowers
on reflected branches, the real
and perceived now conjoined
in stark evanescent beauty

as over-wintered sun
returns, we rejoice to walk
in not-yet-warm, but warmer
light. A tangerine sky,
fades, lemonade gleams from blue sky.

Tall Pines State Preserve

Tall Pines State Preserve

enough to banish
February gloom—too soon–
the white fox clouds and moonless sky,
and so, winter resumes
her sharp blanket laid on the ground—

Still February–Another snowfall

but still, the birdcalls
begin, no morning choir
summoning the sun, yet bits
of song, the wrens duet
amid jay squawks and crow chatter

high on budding trees,
green tendrils emerge to test
and taste the air, not yet, but
soon, I hear them whisper,
the doves not mourning, woo–love comes

through an unlocked gate.

Garden Gate, or Magic Portal?

We had some warm almost-spring days this past week. On Saturday, we took a walk in Tall Pines State Preserve without having to bundle up in winter coats. Then yesterday it snowed, and today it was only 18 F when I woke up. So much for spring. But the days are getting longer, and trees are starting to bud, and the spring bulbs are starting to shoot up their first leaves, at least in the parts of the ground that get a lot of light.

February is birthday month here, both my now grown children had birthdays last week; my mother-in-law and my husband’s birthday are this week. I may have and will do some baking. Today is also Valentine’s Day. When our kids were young, we used to have Valentine-Birthday parties, where they made Valentine cards and crafts.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Definition Please (Netflix), an enjoyable movie about a former spelling bee champion and her relationship with her brother and family. It deals with some mental health issues. Not a wow movie, but good, with a strong, touching performance by Sunjata Day, who also wrote, directed, and produced the movie. We also watched Flee (rental from Amazon Prime, also on Hulu, and in theaters). I’m not normally a fan of animated films, but this was excellent. It’s mostly animated, but with some film clips, too—it’s a documentary, a memoir of a man who fled Afghanistan as a young teen, and who is pursuing a career in Denmark. He gradually reveals some painful secrets about his life to the friend who his interviewing him. Highly recommend this one; I really would like to watch it again.

We also started watching Inventing Anna (Netflix), which I’m enjoying so far. I’ve liked Julia Garner in everything I’ve seen her in, though she looks and sounds different here. This Shonda Rhymes show is based on the true story of Anna Delvy, aka Anna Sorokin.

I just remembered this photo of Ricky as a Valentine Kitten.

A Universe of Ghosts and Words

Monday Morning Musings:

“The world was filling with ghosts. We were a haunted country in a haunted world.”
–Louise Erdrich, The Sentence

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
–William Shakespeare, from Macbeth (spoken by Macbeth after Lady Macbeth’s death)

Ducks swim through sunrise clouds.

Apparitions slip
between worlds, linger like words–
the spoken and unsaid–each
waiting to be seen, heard,
read and remembered, infinite

combinations, in
every language, past, future
meld in the timeless sea where
yesterday’s twinkling light
haunts and comforts. Does tomorrow

on the horizon
give a straight-lined smile? Or false
the glimmer of hope? Sound and
fury—nothing or all?
Candles burn bright, yet mimic stars.

The light comes again
reverberations, colored
by space-time meandering
carrying messages
in microscopic dust missives.

Early Morning Reflections
Evening Snowfall

Now, winter’s blanket
lays etched with sharp lettering–
yet beneath, cursive tendrils
wait to write new stories
spirits and words hover, beckon

with endless stories,
whole books, unfinished chapters
brief verses, epic sagas,
chronicles and reports.
The universe shouts and whispers.

Sunrise!

I decided to try a wayra again. It forces me to think and choose words in a different way.

We’re bouncing from very cold to warm for January to cold. We had snow last night, but it’s been washed away by the rain, and there’s a wind advisory for later in the day into tomorrow.

It’s soup and blanket weather. I made clam chowder (without bacon) last night, and vegetarian onion soup earlier in the week, served with oven french fries.

Merril’s Movie, Books, TV. . .

I couldn’t quite stay up to finish Louise Erdrich’s new novel, The Sentence, last night, but it’s wonderful—words and books, tribal lore, ghosts, and social commentary.

We watched A Perfect Ending (Amazon Prime), a psychological thriller with Polish actor Tomasz Kot as an architect delayed by a young woman in an airport. It definitely kept me interested till the end. And since I forgot to cancel Apple TV, we also watched The Tragedy of Macbeth, a new adaptation by Joel Coen. Purists may not like the streamlined version, but it’s excellent, filmed in a stark black and white where shadows loom and the Weird Women become birds. The supernatural elements of the play really come through in this version. Denzel Washington plays Macbeth and Frances McDormand is Lady Macbeth. She’s so good.

The book and movies share connections of ghosts, regrets, deaths/murders, and memory.

We’ll be watching the finale of Yellow Jackets tonight, a show that I’ve really enjoyed. (I wasn’t sure I would from the opening scenes.) And I suppose there’s a connection here, too.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rise and Fall

Monday Morning Musings:

 

Through thousands of timeless changes

she’s slept, awakened, and wondered when, why–

and if—whispering wisdom in the pink petals of dawn—

in the shining silver strands of moonlight–

as the tides rise and fall

and waves tumble, wearing down rocks

and towns crumble,

she sighs at the shadows,

sings a song of healing, knowing

it may not be enough.

***

 

These are things that fall—

snowflakes

raindrops,

cherry blossoms,

my mother, over and over

 

again, the text or call,

she’s bruised, confused

about what happened

yet nearly blind,

she sometimes sees

 

these things that rise—

the volume of a laugh,

the sun and moon

spring flowers

spirits

 

at the sound of bird songs

drifting from dawn-lit trees

in the lengthening days

that sing of hope

and the renewal of life–

 

there the crocuses bloom

glowing in radiant amethyst

now jonquils tinkle their tiny bells

and soon sunny daffodils smile

and say hello, always friendly

robins frolic

as the worm moon lingers,

and the mockingbird sings

an aria of love and longing

from a budding tree branch.

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From the buds

come leaves or flowers

and fruit–

and so, an impromptu late lunch

we drink the fermented fruit

 

when other plans fell through

but the sun is shining

and so, we sip and reflect

and take this time

to laugh and talk

 

and then another evening, we walk

in the city awake in the almost-spring

despite the looming threats

it’s a Saturday night

we listen to the comedian

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and we laugh,

even while she talks of hand-washing

she is funny,

and we needed this

we all need this–

 

my mother sees my dead father,

sometimes they talk

she asks me to see if he’s in the lounge

I don’t see him, I say

maybe he will be here later.

 

The comedian says there is no rainbow bridge,

her dead pets are buried in the ground, gone

but remembered,

perhaps we carry these ghosts within us

do we hear them whisper? I don’t know.

 

These are things that rise and fall and rise again

a baby,

eyelids,

civilizations,

hope–

 

blooming

again and again.

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The only tree on the block in bloom, Walnut Street, Philadelphia.

 

No movies this week, but Paula Poundstone was very funny, and it was a fun night out, and our little date lunch was a wonderful little mid-week break.