Flowers Again and Again

In guarded gardens, flowers grow

ordered, only the fittest fit–

 

tethered and trellis-trained

conserved, cared for, chromatic beauties

 

we pay to see

this oasis between highway deserts.

 

Yet, the unguarded blooms, guileless,

persistent, propagating

 

through buzzed bees and birds’ peck,

specks drop, imbed, again.

 

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Wildflowers and plants, West Deptford, NJ

For dVerse,where Victoria asks us to write about gardens in a quadrille. Top photos are of a trip to Longwood Gardens one February about 10 years ago on my husband’s birthday. We had a freak warm spell with temperatures in the 70s F by the afternoon. It snowed the next day.

I’ve been doing lots of walking, and I often take pictures of the wildflowers growing all around my part of the world.

 

 

 

 

We’ll Make Our Garden Grow

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“NASA plans to grow food on future spacecraft and on other planets as a food supplement for astronauts. Fresh food, such as vegetables, provide essential vitamins and nutrients that will help enable sustainable deep space pioneering.” NASA

 

Here, a red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills. It’s always a red moon, always low in the sky. The rivers do flow, but the water is. . .different. There’s no blue sky, fluffy white, cotton ball clouds, or golden, blushing dawn. Perhaps it’s some consolation that we can see a million stars–shimmering, sparkling jewels, in constellations that are becoming familiar to me now. I’ve started to name them—that one that looks like a dog, Dorcas for my old hound. And that one—just above? I’ve named it Peter Rabbit.

I see it from the greenhouse, rising over the salad greens. Slowly, we’re putting down roots. My baby will be born soon. I’ll name her Sylvia for my mom. We will make our garden grow, and perhaps she will plant a forest for this new Eden.

 

 

A bit of flash fiction for Prosery Monday. Lillian has selected two lines from Carl Sandburg’s “Jazz Fantasia.” I chose the line above in italics. My poem has nothing to do with his evocative poem. It’s actually a sort of sequel to an earlier prosery piece I wrote, which you can read here, if you’re so inclined. My mom’s name really was Sylvia, and she didn’t garden, but she loved gardens. For some reason, this song from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide popped into my head while I was writing. It always makes me cry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time and Secrets

Monday Morning Musings:

“We trust that time is linear. That it proceeds eternally, uniformly. Into infinity. But the distinction between past, present and future is nothing but an illusion. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are not consecutive, they are connected in a never-ending circle. Everything is connected.”–Dark. Season 1

“Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.”

― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

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In dawn light

the moon whispers a secret.

It hums in the air—

shimmering–

then floats through the branches,

lifted in a bird song,

dropped with an acorn,

to rise into a tree.

***

I watch the clouds ripple,

waves in a sky-sea set aglow

by morning light,

 

I wonder to what shore they’ll flow,

and if they carry sleepers’ dreams

to come again at night.

 

In a garden,

the bees dance secrets

over flowers bright

with expectation

of their visits

they invite

 

them and us

to sit and watch—

until mosquitoes bite—

 

and we go in

leaving a wedding party

to pose in the sunlight.

 

My mother tells us stories,

and time twists.

not finite

 

at all.

Not secrets,

perhaps hindsight,

 

we all reflect, no?

on our pasts,

and highlight

 

like stars

guiding us

spotlights at night,

 

but in gardens

magic happens.

delight

 

comes from simple pleasures,

wine and stories

statues in cloud-light,

or chickens pecking

squawking in a sherbet sky

magic, delight, sunsetting light.

 

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William Heritage Winery, New Jersey

Then I cook to heal

to taste

to bite

 

a bit of happiness

(and heat)

insight

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to share the love

to procrastinate

to fight

the doldrums

the fear,

and I write

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and walk

on city streets

where time might

 

circle round

cobblestones and skyscrapers

and old sites–

but in the movie

in an ancient land,

personal and political fight

 

old battles

fought again and again

love, lust, secrets ignite

 

a broader struggle

men with guns,

land, and right

 

or wrong,

they fight,

while in moonlight

 

we go our own way

and time flows

and twists, despite

 

our intentions

with secrets unknown

that drift into the light.

Boats on the Delaware River, from Patco train

We are watching the excellent German Netflix show, Dark. Trailer here.  There are a bunch of new movies out. Of course I chose one that most will not have heard of, The Reports on Sarah and Saleem. Trailer here. We both liked it. There is a lot of complexity that is skillfully handled—personal relationships and the political situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Art and Craft

Monday Morning Musings:

“It will be as if we never existed if our history cannot be read.”

― Minette Walters, The Last Hours

Ask about time–

or the night–

the woman of then

the woman of now

listen and remember

the voice of the universe calls.

***

 

In the book,

many people die.

They wonder why–

what they’ve done,

so many gone

from this new plague.

They question

their narrow existence,

wonder about resistance

and the distance

between people

and place.

And then the rats–

so many, except

where there are cats.

 

It’s a new world,

the crash of the feudal,

for rebuilding, crucial

to have the art and craft

survival skills and more–

and even serfs may leave

the manor, to soar

 

like the clouds that come

with thunder and rain

then blow away again

to reveal blue skies

and days that surprise

one with their beauty.

We visit the fountain,

the water spouting

in wind-blown sprays,

and children laughing

in all the ways

they can,

making sculptures

and eating free ice cream

(like a dream!).

A man tells me

about the turtle

he holds

over fifty years old,

he says,

points to her shell

and what it tells

of her age.

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Not as old as the fountain,

dedicated nearly one hundred years ago,

public art and public show,

the craft and skill creating

a place for people

for waiting, hesitating,

lingering, as the water gleams

over allegories of history and streams,

and water showers,

but we walk on

admire the colorful bowers

of flowers.

 

We visit my mother

sit outside, the air

is pleasant with a breeze

and birds sing in bushes

and trees.

We go inside to see some art

a show and reception–

she has some connection

to the club, if not the artists,

and she can’t see their art

but still she charts

a course around the room.

Later we talk about the paintings

she’s painted

the work she’s created,

and when she and my father dated,

the clothes she wore

in that time before.

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Painting by Sylvia Schreiber

One of my mom’s paintings

 

We leave her before dinner

to walk some more

this glorious day

stop to say

hello to Rodin, and stay

for a drink in the statue garden,

the view a delight,

and we linger

but leave before night.

I see my daughters and their friend

almost like when they spent

all their time together

–birds of a feather—

all creative,

two artists, two who also write,

all who see the darkness and the light.

Soon all will be married

with husbands and wife.

These three—I wish them all

a happy life.

We binge on Netflix

eat nachos, and dream

of what the world might bring,

and I delight

to hear the birds sing

in morning chorus and in the night.

Sweet Potato Nachos with Mango Salsa

Sleepy cats lie

in peace, as I wish we could all–

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the art and craft of living

and dying,

history told in statues and stories

past, present, future fold

the moon hums and sighs

while time flies by.

Morning Moon, June 2019, Merril D. Smith

Here is some history on the Swann Memorial Fountain.

I read  The Last Hours by Minette Walters. She is known for her crime fiction. This is her first historical novel. It’s set during the “Black Death” plague of the fourteenth-century. The lady of the manor seems somewhat too enlightened, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Someone to Love is the Answer

Monday Morning Musings:

“Then we’ll break the moments. We’ll split them over and over and we’ll have all the time in the world.”

–I.G. Zelazny (On a sign at Grounds for Sculpture)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Make someone happy

Make just one someone happy

Make just one heart the heart you sing to

One smile that cheers you. . .”

–from Jule Styne, “Make Someone Happy”

 

Almost forty years wed

together pretty much

from that ninth-grade dance

(sideways glance)

when you stood whispering to your friend

before approaching to say–

Would you like to go to the dance with me?

Certainly,

we’ve trod on toes

and missed some steps,

I’ll concede,

but mostly we’ve agreed

and danced

knowing where to place hands

there

and there

(hold my heart).

Laurita Inn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inn at Laurita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When did it start–

moving from shuffle to waltz

and tango in the night–

mostly delight–

of course, there’ve been fights,

but then an embrace,

a dance,

not a race,

with time to

pause–

look at art

Grounds for Sculpture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stroll hand and hand,

understand

the need to

rejuvenate

feel the sun

relive, rewind–

Remember that time?

Lovely, yes–

Let’s have some wine,

Laurita Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and dance together,

waltz in a circle,

not in a line,

because the path curves and wanders

Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so, we can ponder–

how old is that tree?

Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and listen to nature

and a voice that soars

Audra McDonald at Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

here outdoors

Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

complimenting

the music of the heart

(ready, start)

we continue the dance

you and me

one, two, three–

See?

There we go,

fumbling

gliding

sometimes slipping and sliding

onward the show,

(more years)

more things to know.

 

 

Our 40th wedding anniversary is later this month. Our VERY wonderful daughters gave us an overnight getaway to the Inn at Laurita, where we stayed in the “Shall We Dance?” room. We also had a wine tasting at the Laurita Winery and a massage at the spa. Thank you, thank you, girls!  The next day we visited Grounds for Sculpture. We were fortunate to have absolutely perfect weather. Last night, on Father’s Day, we saw Audra McDonald at Longwood Gardens. She said she was going to sing selections from the great American songbook. Well, I could listen to her sing anything. She said that “Make Someone Happy” serves as a sort of mantra for her. I loved the mashup arrangement of “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” (Rogers and Hammerstein, South Pacific) with “Children Will Listen” (Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods). And she sent us off with the reminder to think of all the wonderful children and to “remember your humanity.”

Here’s Audra McDonald singing “Make Someone Happy.”

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Shadows

Monday Morning Musings:

“’I am half sick of shadows,’ said

The Lady of Shalott”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “The Lady of Shalott”

 

“We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good

We’ll do the best we know,

We’ll build our house and chop our wood

And make our garden grow. . .

And our garden grow.”

From Leonard Bernstein, “Make Our Garden Grow,” Candide

 

 

All week the sun plays hide and seek

perhaps preparing for the eclipse

my soul also wanders

in and out of shadows

I think about life

blooming in the late summer plants about me

at a make-your-own-terrarium night,

 

 

we each make one,

the open kind—succulents–

though the closed kind would be more interesting to me–

and less so to the cats–

I think,

as we drink wine

and visit with our friends’ daughter who had also showed up

(Surprise!)

I wonder how long our plants will live,

we, who are good at bringing up children and cats,

are not so adept at raising plants,

though the weeds seem to thrive,

still we put them in the sun

(but where there is sun, there are shadows)

and try to make our garden grow

 

As the sun plays in the August sky,

we go to the movies

(shadows turn to light and life upon a screen)

the film is about life and death

and making choices

telling the truth

confronting traditions

rejecting what does not work for you

embracing differences

seeing people as people,

not as members of different groups,

it’s kind of a comedy

and a romance

the comedy of life

the tragedies

funny family dinners

love

and a coma,

existence in a shadow world,

while life goes on about you

 

Afterwards, we sit upstairs

in an open-air part of a restaurant

flowers planted, blooming in boxes outside the railing

and street performers serenade us from below

it’s noisy,

but, hey, summer in the city

a beautiful evening

we watch buses and tourists below us

and pedicycle drinking groups,

laughing and singing

we eat tater tots and pizza

because it’s that kind of night

summertime

and we’re not at war yet,

we walk around

Do these creatures protect the house?

 

just a bit

because there’s work to be done

and an early day tomorrow

the shadows deepen

 

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The sun dances through clouds

casting shadows large and small

on the eighth, Barbara Cook and Glen Campbell both die

glorious soprano and beautiful tenor

perhaps they sing duets in some other world

(do gardens grow there?)

the next day is the anniversary of my father’s birth

he would have been ninety-eight this week

and I think of my mother,

who will soon turn ninety-five

the seasons turning, sun and shadows

Auburn Road Vineyard

The sun comes and goes

hiding

seeking

gone for a woman in Charlottesville

gone for her family

gone for people killed in mosques and churches

gone for women taken as spoils of war

call evil by its name

the darkness of the soul

never brightened by the sun

hidden beneath shadows

 

I watch the sun rise and set

watch the shadows lengthen

as summer turns to fall

I hold on

seeking light

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giving it to the terrarium plants

because they are still holding on, too

despite all odds

we’ve made our gardens grow

 

I wrote about my father here.

We went to Plant Nite at Auburn Road Vineyards.

We saw The Big Sick, official trailer here. We ate at Revolution House.

You can hear Barbara Cook in “Make Our Garden Grow” the original Broadway cast recording of Candide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Echoes from the Before Time: Haibun

 

I wait in the garden watching the bees flit among the roses. Their somnolent buzzing is soothing, the music of the universe echoed. Once this sun-glimmered garden, this gold-gilded life, seemed alluring. But now I realize it’s an artificial oasis. Outside the Perimeter, life is harsh and chaotic. Children and dogs scuffle over scraps. I think back over the past few years and to what brought me here. I thought it a refuge. I was attracted to his power, mistaking it for strength of character. But there is no strength, only cunning; he will do their bidding, do whatever he needs to do to survive. I am the plucked flower tossed as tribute. He has given me to Them, a bribe for his safety. I hear them now, hear their fists pounding on the door. The bees have stopped buzzing; the sun hides behind a cloud, but I hear a robin sing.

 

Before time and wars

the sun sang and the moon hummed

songs still echoing

 

in buzz, chirp, and ocean waves

hear music of the cosmos

 

By Sir Edward Burne-Jones (died 1898) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

This is a Haibun for Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were power and allure.

 

 

 

Secret Treasures

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By Acabashi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”

–Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

 

She opened the hidden gate,

eyes bright, but hands atremble

eager to discover treasures in a secret garden.

 

Greeted by scents of summer joy,

she tasted them, fresh and tender, green and bright.

She opened the hidden gate.

 

Digging here and there, uncovering roots and buds,

ensorcelled by the buzz of bees and trills of birds,

eyes bright, but hands atremble,

 

she pricked her fingers on thorns of roses,

saw flowers wondrous strange, she danced in delight,

eager to discover treasures in the secret garden.

 

This cascade poem is in response to Secret Keeper’s Weekly Writing Prompt

 

This week’s words are: Open/Strange/Taste/Fresh/Tender