Magic is Coming

Monday Morning Musings:

The week has been busy with chores and long with anticipation. The solstice has come and gone. Full moon and winter sun are concealed behind the clouds—but they are there.

winter moon hidden,

she hums of spring a-coming

dreams bloom like flowers

Almost Full, Almost Solstice

A tsunami crashes upon a beach. Seething like volcanoes, protestors erupt, striking and burning. Children starve. Our government shuts down. Our leader is not one, and he grows increasingly erratic. When will his enablers realize he is a wannabe emperor? When will they finally realize he has no clothes? I look for the helpers. I need to be a helper. I look for the light.

long winter darkness

broken by dawn’s blushing sighs

dormant dreams awake

Solstice--Merril D. Smith, 2018

Our older daughter and her wife arrive from Boston. Our other daughter comes over to eat Wawa hoagies with us and to decorate cookies. We drink warm spiced wine, and they watch a bad movie they asked me to record. I go upstairs to watch the “In Excelsis Deo” episode of The West Wing, my own holiday tradition. I wrap presents and sing along to “Little Drummer Boy.”  My cat lifts his head, then snoozes.

caroling voices

sing in joyful harmony,

Pa rum pum pum pum

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I think about the ghosts of Christmas past–our young girls whispering on Christmas morning waiting for 6 A.M. when they can finally get up. We lie in bed, then hear them sing, “Christmas Time is Here.”  Happy memories. Over the next few days we’ll be seeing family—laughing at jokes and eating and drinking too much. I’ll be enjoying the magic that is now different–but still here.

lights and music now

break December’s silent night–

dreams of magic come

 

Wishing all of you a most wondrous holiday season! I’m linking this to Frank’s Haikai Challenge with the prompt Christmas.

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Santa riding through town in a fire engine.

 

The Week That Was

Monk's Cafe--Inside Looking Out

Monk’s Cafe, Philadelphia Merril D. Smith 2018

I was born in this city where now we go to celebrate, the night before my birthday. Holiday lights glow through the misty air. We sit in a pub, warm and cozy, even though the nearby tables are loud with after work parties, students, and academics. I gaze through the window as two young girls outside take photos of an older couple standing in front of the Christmas lights. Perhaps the girls’ grandparents? My husband and I clink our glasses in a toast, and I dig into my mussels.

 

holiday spirits,

sparkling souls in glowing light

December revels

We walk around the neighborhood for a bit. Rittenhouse Square is full of light; the skyline shimmers. We see winter trees and signs of city life.

 

ghostly branches wave,

beckoning to seasons past

harboring futures

We go to show, laugh at the jokes and clever Broadway parodies. The woman next to me sits stoically, never applauding, but suddenly lets out a loud guffaw at a joke about [vice-president] Mike Pence waiting to be raptured. Well, it was a funny joke. It is raining as we walk back to the train.

 

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raindrops dripping from branches—

glimmers in puddles

It is still raining the next day, my birthday, but we walk around anyway. Then go to a movie of cinematic splendor, filmed in black and white. The images linger on screen and in my mind–

 

puddles on cement

an airplane flying through clouds

crashing ocean waves

Class struggles. Race. But always women without men, raising children.

 

 

We eat Chinese food with friends, laughing, catching up with this and that. I receive roses from one friend, and another bakes me a birthday cake. My husband gives me chocolate truffles. I get birthday wishes from family and friends. I talk to one daughter on the phone, and I see the other at a winery holiday party. Despite the weather, this has been a wonderful birthday weekend.

 

I am thankful for this life.

I was born just before the solstice. The days have been gloomy, and the nights grow longer.

now coming darkness

then the coming of more light

long night’s moon whispers

softly from behind the cloud cover, where meteors blaze across the sky. Perhaps I hear them sigh.

I close my eyes. Like a vision—I see a snow owl. It swivels its head. Looks at me, raises its magnificent wings, and sails off into the night sky. I think of the owl I saw once on my birthday. Spirit animal? Magical vision? Who knows.  .  .

this feathered glory

shining white in midnight sky–

hope in the darkness

 

At Sharrott Winery, Members Holiday Party, 2018

 

I’m linking this to Frank’s Haikai challenge—solstice. We went to 1812 Production’s annual show, This is the Week That Is. We ate at Monk’s Café.  My daughter took me to the member’s holiday party at Sharrott Winery. We saw the movie, Roma. It will be on Netflix, but if you can, see it in the theater. The cinematography is worth it. Here’s the official trailer.

 

 

Lights and Life: Quadrille Haibun

First Night of Hanukkah, December 2018

Candles burn, in winter darkness, a miracle of light. The ancient hatred is rising again. Six million and more, but we survive. We clink our glasses lightly, saying not, “Cheers,” but “L’chaim.”

twilight comes early

shadows blanket ground and trees—

light glows in windows

 

De, aka Whimsy Gizmo, has asked us to write a quadrille using some form of the word cheer for dVerse.  I’m also linking to Frank’s Haikai Challenge to write a poem that alludes to Advent or Hanukkah.

I know I wrote about Hanukkah yesterday, and there will probably be more—but you know, it lasts for eight nights. Tonight will be the third night of Hanukkah.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at Fire, Exploring the Cold

 

Leaves crunch underfoot,

above red planet rises–

owl hunts unconcerned

 

Thrusters fire, and a ship lands securely in a sandy crater. Passion burned in the heart of the war god; his namesake is rust-hued, barren, and frigid. But–once water flowed here, and perhaps life flourished, too.

 

We look up, wonder

see fiery stars, and ponder–

elsewhere, sun sets blue

 

117989main_image_feature_347_ys_full  Sunset on Mars

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Texas A&M/Cornell
On May 19, 2005, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit captured this stunning view as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars. This Panoramic Camera mosaic was taken around 6:07 in the evening of the rover’s 489th Martian day, or sol.

My poem was inspired by the Mars Insight probe that landed this week. This Haibun is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday using synonyms for cold and safe.  And for dVerse, where Victoria asked us to write any type of poem using fire.

 

 

 

 

Waiting–Haibun

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I’m sick, my face is broken-out, and my slender body swells large over a period of nine months. Outside snowflakes fall, but I am cocooned inside where there is no time or seasons. Days of labor, and she finally appears, tiny and bald—the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. We’ve waited nearly ten years to have her. Three years later, we’re back at the same hospital, again in the February cold, again the wait to be surprised, to be exhausted and overjoyed. Now we have two daughters. Some things are worth waiting for.

robin trills in hope–

beauty rises from the snow

snowdrop sprouts and blooms

 

This Haibun is for the dVerse Haibun Monday prompt. Imelda is guest-hosting. She has asked us to write about waiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishes and Dreams

 

I scan the sky for morning light.

 

gaze out to see a falling star

blazing brightly

 

there between the dawn

and indigo night.

I make a wish.

 

 

November sunlight

peeking through the falling leaves—

lights an open book

 

I was inspired by Janice to write a cherita haibun. I’m not quite sure if this works. This is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenge using synonyms for pleasant and read.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebration

Monday Morning Musings:

“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.”

–Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice

 

Once a woman had a fourth child, my younger sister, my friend. Once she turned sixty and decided to throw a party with dancing and drag queens, with dinner, drinks, and dessert. The room sparkled with anticipation. It radiated love. What felt cold at first, grew warm with love winging high and bodies dancing, prancing, and trying to fly. We paid tribute to my sister, and we remembered that despite all the horrible things in the world, love and friendship are things to be cherished and celebrated.

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My sister with Lady E

 

Summer turns to fall

leaves of many colors dance

birds trill, tweet, and soar

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My Girls

We left full and glowing, and after many twists and turns found our way home.

 

Sleep

to dream of the moon

singing languidly above

 

and recall the language

of purple gardens—

stilled—yet not—

 

the smell a crushing ache

as time flies by

sweet with ifs–

 

And so, we sing.

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The Oracle gave me that last part.

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November 11

I wake to see Venus gleaming as the sky lightens from indigo to azure. The goddess of love beckons and beseeches, but the war god always wins.

 

Morning star rises

heralds the poppy-red dawn–

November morning

 

Senseless wars go on,

honoring in fall parades

stars blaze, flash, and die

 

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Vincent van Gogh, Poppy Field, [Public Domain] Wikipedia

This is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday–Poet’s Choice of Words, and Frank’s Haikai challenge using the prompt, “Armistice.”

 

 

The Move

So, here I am again today. I’m guest hosting at dVerse Poets Pub for Haibun Monday. The pub opens in about an hour. Come join us!

I’m in seventh grade when my parents get divorced, and we move from Dallas, TX, to Havertown, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. I’m scared, but I’m also excited. My sisters, mom, and I move from the land of chicken-fried steak and football—where I always felt like an outsider—to a place that feels both foreign and like home. I was born in Philadelphia, as were my parents and siblings. Here my grandfather visits, bringing us lox, cream cheese, and bagels on Sunday mornings. The divorce and resettling without my father living with us is a transition, and it brings many changes, but my father also moves north and remains in our lives. I always feel loved.

Now, I wonder who I would be if we hadn’t moved—though I feel like I’ve always been the same me inside. And though junior high is pretty much universally terrible wherever it is, in ninth grade, I meet a boy. Years later, Reader, I married him.

 

wind blows west and east

summer gales and winter sighs—

acorn sprouts and thrives

 

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The Tree

 

Theresienstadt Tree

Sapling from the Theresienstadt Tree, Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza

 

I walk through the triangular plaza, this memorial to those known and unknown; those who survived, and those who perished because of hate. It is the little tree I focus on. It’s small but carries a mighty legacy of survival. I think of the children who tended its progenitor with such dedication, knowing that they themselves would most likely perish. I consider those children then, and all the children now fleeing from horror or living in war zones. In the words of a woman who survived hate, who survived a hell, I hear an invocation. “Hate is a terrible thing,” she says. And I think we must never forget: hate only nourishes more hate, but kindness makes both people and trees grow.

 

Ghosts walk among us

whisper through buried ashes

brave saplings rise up

 

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This Haibun is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. We were to use synonyms for haunt and spell. Yesterday, I walked through the Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial, which was dedicated on Monday.  You can read more about it here.