Listen, Recall

Odilon Redon, Orpheus

In early morning hush,
the moon sings farewell,
gelid murmured notes
through white cat-paw clouds

if you listen, recall
light recalls time recalls light,
the ancient ships of night seas
ask when
ask what
you want
from the whispers and pulses
of mother music from earth and sky,

the fiddle, flute, and drums of
wind-beats and tree rustle,
the cardinal chirps and crow caws,
black on red on blue and green, every color
a promise, a warning
of what is and what was.

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.

Ingrid at Experiments in Fiction is hosting a Global Assembly on Climate Change. Read more about it here.

Waiting

Waiting

Odilon Redon, The Muse on Pegasus

On a long wander, cold-breathed,
I think every spring’s a poet born
as from rain a rose—
yet, if we recall the red petals’ fall

in sun turns and moon cycles,
and after dusk’s berry-glow and bird-light flickers,
the deep song of ancient souls
carried on wind-fiddles–

now wait for light whispers
and the caramel breath of dawn,
a honeyed smile that lingers on treetops
and beneath, the lichen rocks
and moss blankets,

seeds rest,
knowing when to bloom.

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. It’s cold here today.

New Year’s Day, 2022: The Promise of Light

“Starlight Sower painting by the international renowned artist Hai Knafo who was inspired by Or Zaruaa Synagogue in Jerusalem 2011 ( “Light is sown for the righteous” Psalms, chapter 97 verse 11.)” Wikimedia Commons

New Year’s Day, 2022: The Promise of Light

If I could, I’d share the river dawn,
a gift, not of quiet, but peace
to listen to the moon’s farewell song
and the echo of stars in gull laughter,
the dream dance of joy
across the universe.

Then tell it, you word-woman,
the Oracle says,
trust this time,
this time, see how time
is a thousand universes,
and believe you belong always
a part, a voice within her heart-voice–
remember the ever-language blue-shifting
in nightglow, in sun-smile,
in stellar rhapsody
the promise of light.

On this dark, foggy New Year’s Day morning, I decided to ask the Oracle for a New Year’s message, and she’s reminded me that the universe goes on no matter what and that there’s light behind the clouds. She also pretty much ordered me to write (see below), so I’m hoping this is a sign that I will have a good year of writing. I’m thankful for all of you who read my work. This has been a very long year. Stay healthy! Happy New Year!

Sharing this with dVerse Open Link Night because on this solemn day we need the hope of some light.

Beginnings, Endings, and All There is, In-Between

Monday Morning Musings:

“Maybe the dead know, their eyes widening at last,
Seeing the high beams of a million galaxies flick on
At twilight.”
–from Tracy K. Smith, “My God, It’s Full of Stars

December Morning Moon
Early Morning, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

Before the beginning, there was another,
and perhaps another before that, bangs and waves,
an infinite, endless sea of possibilities—
of if, not when,
light sparks life.

Yet here I am, and here you are,
each the sun of our own universe, surrounded by planets,
stardust in our blood, blinking pulsars for an infinitesimal moment
of time. Beacons, ships in the night, we gaze
at the ghost streams of long-dead stars,

an recreate the twinkling gleams in candles
and sparkling lights adorn trees as winter appears.

Birthday Wine at Blue Cork Winery

We celebrate the anniversary of my birth
leave footprints in the sand, as our ancestors once did,
as they emerged from watery depths–as we do,
each birth the same and different, each life unique,
distinct, and less than a speck.

Ocean City, NJ

It’s all in the perspective. The horizon beckons, but is never reached.
I watch the gulls hover and soar, catching wind and light.

Gull in flight, Ocean City, NJ

As we celebrate, holding fast to dying light, catching fire in
glass and cup, echoing the chirps of stars and gull laughter,
our friends sit a vigil,
and we look to the past, knowing we can’t return—
and if I could put on my younger self’s skin, like a selkie
dons her castoff seal pelt, I don’t think it would fit,
not in this world, and it’s the only one I know,

with shadows looming from the light, imperfectly perfect, gigantic, a pinprick—we dream–a lifetime passes in a second.

December Dune

My birthday was last week. We went to Ocean City, NJ, to take a walk on the beach, which was mostly deserted except for some people walking their dogs. We saw lots of egg casings and horseshoe crab remains on the beach. I had a free glass of wine for my birthday at Blue Cork Winery, and then we had Indian food and champagne (actually a crémant). To continue my birthday celebration a couple days later, we went to the art museum, and then walked to the Christmas Village in Philadelphia. I started laughing when my husband took a photo of me eating a cannoli, and then I couldn’t stop laughing, which made me think of my mom, and made me cry while I was laughing. A dear friend’s mother died on my birthday. We paid our respects on Saturday, and then took a drive to see the house where I lived when I was in high school.

Merril’s Movie Club: We streamed Belfast this week. In this beautifully filmed in black and white, Kenneth Branagh takes a nostalgic look at Belfast, a sort of love letter to a place and time that no longer exists. It’s bittersweet without being too sappy, though set during a time of violence, strife, and intolerance (and I think that’s understood). I liked it very much, and it was a perfect holiday/birthday movie.

Last night, Santa drove through town.

Symphony

Odilon Redon, Orpheus

Day fast approaches–
peach glimmers lie beyond,
but now moonlight sings, a rhapsody of silver rills
joining star-song, an ancient stream,

like ghosts within, their faint echo lingers,
the always of past carried on the universe’s waves
coursing through brain and heart.

Now, the music murmurs secrets—
sea-tongued murmurs, rain chants, join the moon’s music,
sky-diamonds chime and plaintive violin notes
fall from rooftops,

whispering if, whispering when
we meet in dream-time wanderings
who knows
what comes after?

I’m taking a work break to post my poem from the Oracle because who knows what might happen if I don’t. I don’t want to find out! I have projects to complete by Tuesday, so I’m behind on reading and responding to comments and reading others’ posts, but I will get to them!

Tuesday afternoon (evening his time), I’ll be taking part in Damien Donnelly’s winter festive poetry party, Deck the Storms. Damien is the host and producer of the poetry podcast Eat the Storms. He is also a talented poet and wonderful person, who has thoughtfully scheduled this event as a birthday eve party for me! 😏 It’s free, but you need an Eventbrite ticket to attend this Zoom event. Here is the information.

We Find the Light Again and Again

Monday Morning Musings:

“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
Mary Oliver, “When I am Among the Trees”

Sunrise in December

And now—the winter darkness comes,
the sun a sleepy golden cat, who rises on arthritic limbs
to sight the birds on leafless boughs
and make the holly berries gleam,
before he settles back to nap
in grey blankets glimmered-glowed.

The sun already low in the sky at 3:30 in the afternoon. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

And now—we see the nests above,
the treasures hidden by summer’s green,
and birds chitter-chat, and squirrels flitter past
gathering nuts for their cold repast,
while vultures soar, then bide their time
in silent committees in meetings of time

that flows like the river, light to darkness
to light again,
we touch match to candles, watch them burn–
the miracle is, we’ve endured,
we drink and eat and love, let out a sigh, a cry–
the shadows gather—

Early morning geese, Delaware River

December Sunrise

but so does the light. Bird-chased,
we follow after. There, the trees in cinnamon gowns,
and the glitter of snow on evergreen—there, a flame
brightens, while the sleepy cat says goodnight—
knowing he will wake to love,
while in the darkness we toast, “to life!”

Last night was the last night of Hanukkah. We bought another wine tasting kit, and we tasted a white (German Riesling) and a red (Australian Pinot Noir) while watching the candles burn.

The winter solstice approaches, and there is a lot of darkness in the world–and it’s growing. Don’t let it. Don’t let the anti-democratic forces or the anti-science crazies win. Shine the light wherever you can.

Reflections in Icy Blue

“Floating Seaweed” by Fay Collins

Blue all around, as sky bends
to kiss the water–
there is this—and us,

sleek-bodied and finned-footed, with whiskered face, I
taste air-sea, swept by Arctic winds, tern-carried,
mint-crisp, and briny-salted,

But–there is here–
at world’s end and world’s beginning,

turning each to each, endless
as gulls fly across the sun
a bobbing line, waving in reflection,

at the surface of blue-on-blue,
our faces meet, our bodies touch
glowing in the light from above and below.

Good morning! I’m sneaking this in amidst the cooking and cleaning. It’s Thanksgiving morning, and unlike last year, we will actually have people here in our house. We’re all vaccinated, some of us have had boosters, and we’re all taking Covid rapid tests, too. I suppose this is the new normal. Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends, and Happy Thursday to all!

For dVerse ,where Sarah has asked us to write revisit her very first dVerse prompt, which was to write an ekphrastic poem based on the art of Fay Collins. Sadly, Fay died in September, but Sarah writes, “Please write your poems with joy – Fay’s art is so full of joy.”

Of Things Heard and Seen

Monday Morning Musings:

Morning Beaver Moon Between the Branches, ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I’m musing about musing,
bemused by my muse, how she drifts
on slivers of silvered streams, and beams
from between leaves, perceives before thought
reaches me, the beauty of golden glow, the gilding
of roofs and trees,

Autumn Glow Reflected in the Delaware River ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

and hears the calls of all
the birds in sky and river beach, each a part
of something larger–

in the flutter of a wing, the creation of a storm
or from a tiny wish, greater reveries born,
as time circles round, what was future becomes past,
the russet leaves fall, a pewter blanket shrouds the earth,

but buried deep among the roots, sleeping seeds dream
of brighter and more beautiful things, of blue and green

of fuzzy chicks and spotted fawn,
of dawn chorus, mockingbird, and robin song—

Robin atop the tree dressed for autumn
Autumns leaves soaring over the Delaware River

and now in blanket weather, cat on lap,
with pen to paper, the muse whispers write
of the luminous branches covered in jewels,
and the ripples in the river, the blue reflected from above,
and the way time pauses and stills when surrounded by love–
and I say, yes, it does, and yes,
I will.

Our older child and their wife are here for Thanksgiving. This is the first time we’ve seen them since before the pandemic. ❤️. I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving.

The Father

Odilon Redon, Orpheus

He dreams of rust-gowned trees aglow
in the rays of blood-rose sun,
as the bright blue sky turns violet,
he catches the change on his tongue
turning shadows to song.

Later, he’ll recall this light, this change, this song,
and if his daughter cries at wild, wind screams,
he’ll strum the notes and sing.

The Oracle always knows. This seems to be a companion piece to something I just wrote (not posted).

Circling, Caught, and Bound

Monday Morning Musings:

“There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:”
–Jane Hirshfield, “For What Binds Us

The stars are sleeping beyond the grey
our sun yawning without thought of dawning—
our pale blue dot revolves and spins, and we,

Setting Sun at Heritage Winery

held fast by what we cannot see, bound to
that spin, and to each other

circling like restless dogs, seeking a trace
of affinity

within the infinity of time
and space, magic, grace,
the universe surrounds us

with light. We pass through rays,
scatter spectrums with our beating hearts
then take

a souvenir, hold that light within
carved, like initials on a tree,
a memory of what was, a star–

its dust drifting through our veins
and soaring on soft wings
from sky to earth to tree

Robins at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

caught in the sea of eternity,
lost, found, cherished, bound.

Tall Pines State Preserve

I couldn’t decide what to write about today, so I gave myself a challenge to use the words passing (or a form of the word) and souvenir from the two excellent movies we saw this week, along with some inspiration from Jane Hirshfield.
Passing (Netflix) is a new movie based on the 1929 novel by Nella Lasen. Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga give terrific performances as the two main characters. The women were childhood friends who meet again by chance in a New York hotel where both are “passing” as white—Thompson’s character Irene temporarily, and Negga’s character Clare who is living as a white woman married to a bigoted White man. John openly declares his hatred for Black people in front of both women. Clare’s reemergence upsets Irene’s carefully composed life and dreams.

The Souvenir is a 2019 movie, starring Honor Swinton Byrne as Julie, a young well-to-do film student who becomes involved with an older man (Tom Burke) who manipulates her, pulling her into a toxic relationship. Early on, he gives her a print of the 1778 painting The Souvenir by Jean-Honore Fragonard, which they also see in a gallery. The painting is based on a scene from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s book, Julie, a 1761 best-seller. (I didn’t know this when I saw the movie.) Julie’s mother in the movie is played by her real-life mother, Tilda Swinton. So, this is the second thing I’ve watched recently with a mother and daughter playing a mother and daughter. The other was Maid. The movie is the director, Joanna Hogg’s, semi-autobiographical story .
The Souvenir: Part II was recently released.

During the week on a spring-like day we sat outside at Heritage Winery.

Saturday morning, we took a walk at Tall Pines State Preserve. It was a golf course turned into a preserve. The sun was going in and out, but it was beautiful with autumn colors at their peak. After we got home it got cloudy, rainy, and windy. We didn’t see any coyotes or other wildlife other than birds.