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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Name the Evil

In the movie,

this would be the point where the starship arrives

changing the course of events

saving us from ourselves,

saving Earth, saving humankind

 

Our movie runs in a continuous loop,

conflict after conflict,

guns, bombs, and hate,

attacking the other

we watch it unfold,

let it happen,

forgetting that people who are ignorant, hungry, afraid

listen to the demagogues,

we wait for the starship to arrive

for the hero to appear,

but this is an interactive experience

the storyline only continues

if we change it,

write the words,

name the evil,

expose it,

lead the hope,

feed the starving

heal the sick

teach the words of love,

look for the helpers,

become one and gather others

become the heroes

before it’s too late

 

 

 

 

 

Falling Stars

The child presses her face against the window glass

watching as the sun sinks into the sea

and the first stars appear in the sky.

She makes a wish as one streaks, burns, and falls

vanishing like her neighbors.

(“Poor things,” her mother had said

seeing their yellow stars.)

She wonders if they will send her a postcard

from wherever they are,

and if she can change her wish–

to see them again,

the doctor with the kind eyes

and his daughters with their long, silver hair

who had played with her.

 

The child, older now, presses her face against the window glass

and watches the stars in the sky

the bombs silenced,

she hears a song murmured by the wind

singing to her of hope and dreams,

bittersweet, like chocolate she remembers,

she sees streams of starlight

sowing dreams in sparkling silver waves,

thinks of her long-ago wish

and knows—somehow– it will come true.

Starlight_sower_(1)_by_artist_HAI_KNAFO_2011_inspired_by_Or_Zaruaa

Star Sower by Hai Knafo, Wikipedia Commons

 

This is for Secret Keeper’s Weekly Writing Prompt.  The prompt words were:

| APPEAR | PRESS | POOR | CARD | FALL |

 

Summer Storm: Haibun

From a dream world I’m summoned back, awakened by a boom and a crash. A flash of light illuminates the room through the window shades. My cat rises, ears up, but he remains by my side. Seeking comfort or giving it? Lovely petrichor drifts in through the windows left open from the summer day. Then boom, crash, flash, and the rain comes down in a rushing torrent, like a waterfall from the sky. I listen to it, feeling like the world below me might flood, and my bed become a ship that sails me, not into dreams, but into a murky river. I lie there in the dark, counting “one Mississippi, two Mississippi” each time the thunder roars. Finally, it is over, and I sleep, dreaming of oceans and sandy beaches. I wake to the mockingbird’s song, and a day that is washed clean. Hope sparkles in the morning sun.

 

Spirits rage at night

crash and bang till washed away

in wonder, joy reigns

 

Nikolay_Dubovskoy_Raduga

Nikolay Nikanorovich Dubovskoy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is late entry for for dVerse. 

I guess it’s a summer memory now, since it happened a couple of days ago. 🙂

 

Survivor: Sun and Moon

I was a carefree child who played in the warmth of the sun. But her glow and mine have dimmed. At night, after he has finished with me, the moon sends her light to comfort me. Cold comfort. Still, she guides me now, lighting a pearlescent path for me, tangled and silver like the scars that trace my body, but leading me to freedom. I’ve killed him, and though he took my innocence, he can no longer hurt me. My past, present, and future merge—who I was and who I will become. I am broken, but not destroyed. One day, I may glow again, like the sun.

 

The moon saw sorrow

her tears, silver waves of hope

to light the darkness

 

"Rising Moon," John Constable, c. 1810

Credit Line: John G. Johnson Collection, 1917 Philadelphia Museum of Art

This haibun is a late entry for Colleen Chesebro’s weekly poetry challenge. The prompt words were past and future. Some of you know I’m working on two reference books on rape. So, this. Now back to work for me!

According to the UN Women web site,  worldwide, 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence, most often from an intimate partner.

 

Fools and Oceans

Do we remember poetry and desire, come eternity?

embrace old rhythms of green and lingering life,

a brilliant blush,

a fired heart—

listen to this blue salt ocean, Fool,

the angel said,

magic lies here, there, all about and after

it dances and laughs, surrounding you like perfume–

go breathe peace and heal

 

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Northern_Sea_in_the_Moonlight_by_Caspar_David_Friedrich

Caspar David Friedrich, “Northern Sea in the Moonlight,” 1823-1824 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m in the midst of crazy writing and editing. The Oracle knew just what to say. I added some punctuation. I hope she doesn’t mind.

Ephemeral Beauty in the Book of My Memory

Monday Morning Musings:

In the book of my memory—the part of it before which not much is legible—there is the heading Incipit vita nova [here begins a new life].

–Dante Alihieri, Vita Nuova

“There are lovely things in the world, lovely that don’t endure, and the lovelier for that.”

–Chris Guthrie in Sunset Song

“People like films because stories are a structure, and when things turn bad it’s still part of a plan. There’s a point to it.”

–Tom Buckley in Their Finest

 

Dawn opens the book

write or draw upon the page

ephemeral life

transitory beauty, grasped,

chronicled by poet’s hand

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Every morning, I wake and turn another page,

what will be written there that day?

Not a book, a story, a movie, a play,

our lives

we plan, we think there is a structure, a plot

reasons for our rhyme

we study the past

but put our trust in hope and beauty

 

My husband and I eat Chinese food

sitting in our living room we watch a movie,

about a woman who lived a hundred years ago in Scotland,

using technology that did not exist in that era,

and that will become outdated all too soon,

it’s a rural life of hardship and beauty,

of fighting and song,

an abusive father, a depressed mother, a brother who leaves,

she puts away her books,

but there is the land to sustain her

she falls in love and marries

but the land is still there,

glowing through the director’s vision,

though the work is hard,

her husband goes to war

(the war that was to end all wars)

it changes him

it changes the nation

and all the nations that lose so many of their young men

the poets write, the tyrants sing

dulce et decomum est pro patri mori

the old lie,

that vicious lie,

life is ephemeral,

but love,

that is true and lasting

 

In the morning, I wake and turn another page,

we see another movie

this one about the next big war

about keeping the spirits up and boosting morale,

the movie is funny and charming and sad,

I enjoy it very much,

my husband does, too,

though he says, “It’s a Merril movie.”

And I guess it is,

though I’m not sure what that means,

the movie is mainly about a woman

who gets a job writing “slops,”

the women’s dialog for war movies,

this one is about unlikely women heroes at Dunkirk

the war ministry wants it to have everything though—

even an American and a dog–

and we see the writing (the clicking of typewriters)

and the construction of the movie

location and studio

while the world around them shatters,

and we know that the world will get worse,

and women will take “men’s work,”

then be forced back into their boxes,

but there is romance and Bill Nighy

and really what else do you need in a movie?

 

After the movie,

the spring day turned fine,

we walk around the old city,

where traces of the past remain,

though much has vanished,

structures, people,

and before that

giant creatures who once walked the earth

 

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American Philosophical Society

 

we drink coffee,

enjoy the view,

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laugh at the booming voice of a tour guide

helpfully informing a group that

“Carpenter’s Hall was built for carpenters.”

(though the term carpenters is misleading)

 

Nearby stood the house of a bodice-maker

now house and man, long gone—along with the fashion

all fleeting moments in time

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Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia

 

In a garden, we see tulips

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but many of the early spring flowers are already gone,

the petals of the flowering trees float to the ground

joining piles of catkins

(leaving pollen to blow everywhere)

the fleeting life of a butterfly,

helping to create beauty in the world,

ephemeral beauty

IMG_5851

the beauty of spring, fading into summer

lovely things that don’t endure

and are they lovelier for that,

and is that the point?

What will I remember,

what will be retained in the book of my memory?

These moments of beauty, I hope.

We go home

feed our cats and ourselves,

the mundane tasks of life

that have their own beauty and joy,

we sleep,

and in the morning

I wake and turn another page,

hoping for beauty, though it may not endure,

wondering if there’s a plan

wondering and hoping

holding love close

 

We watched the movie, Sunset Song, on Netflix. Here’s a review. I haven’t read the book, which I know is a classic in Scotland. We saw Their Finest in a theater. Here’s a trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

Magic Moons and Tides: NaPoWriMo

 

More magic moons that bring the tide

where mermaids swim and sirens sing,

but we sail on, for hope hasn’t died

 

in dreams, the sea is magnified

the tumbling waves with foam do fling

more magic moons that bring the tide

 

Death may come on horse bestride

to demonstrate that he is king

but we sail on, for hope hasn’t died

 

our love comes in waves, comes sparkling-eyed

as love-crazed, reverie, both unspring

more magic moons that bring the tide

 

so come, my darling, we must have tried

to play in our dreams, as we daily wring

more magic moons that bring the tide

but we sail on, for hope hasn’t died

1024px-Ilya_Repin-What_freedom!

Ilya Repin, “ What Freedom,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A villanelle for Day 30, the last day of NaPoWriMo. I think this may be the first villanelle I’ve written.

Kerfe Roig (check out her latest  here  ) mentioned “more magic moons” in a comment to me, which gave me a prompt for this poem. Then the image above popped into my head. Jane Dougherty used it once for a microfiction prompt. So thank you both!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Skulls: Microfiction

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Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The princess was awakened in the night by rough hands and gruff voices.  Her attendants were killed, and she was thrust into deep hole, a dungeon known only to few, while her captors decided if she was more valuable to them alive or dead. She was a pawn in dynastic feuds.

She lay there in the dark, too stunned and fearful to think or do anything. A rustling in the fetid space around her, finally got her attention. Somehow she knew the sound came from beings, not only rats–though they probably would come looking for a piece of her to chew on soon.

“Don’t be frightened,” she said. “Someone will help us.

My mother used to tell me stories. Shall I tell you one?”

More than a little frightened herself, she began speaking, telling a tale of magic and light, of music and sunshine, of finding a way home from the darkness. Gradually, figures appeared, glowing spirits. They hovered around her, listening to the tale and illuminating the dungeon with their light. She was now able to see that all around here were piles of bones and skulls, the remains of men, women, and children who had been left here to die alone. The princess told these lost souls story after story, until she, too, was near death.

But the princess did not die. One of her attendants had hidden under the bed and survived the slaughter in the bedchamber. This loyal attendant had run for help, the kidnappers were captured, and the princess was rescued–but she did not forget the lost souls in the dungeon.

Eventually she became queen. Shortly after her coronation, she returned to the dungeon. Ordering her guards to remain at the entrance, she walked down the dark steps alone. She sat there in the dirt and told a story of magic and light, of music and sunshine, and of finding a way home from the darkness. She rose then and told the spirits she would build them a new home.

Before long a section was added to her palace. It was called Hope’s Annex, named for the Queen, who had taken the name Hope. The bones from the dungeon were gathered, sorted, and placed there. The building was filled with light from large windows and glass doors, which were opened to the flower gardens in fine weather. It was furnished with comfortable seats, tables, and bookcases crowded with books. People visited, day and night. They read the books, had concerts, and told stories. And the spirits were happy, at last.

 

This is for Jane Dougherty’s Sunday Strange Microfiction Challenge.

The prompt is the illustration above, which is certainly strange. I have no idea what the original fairy tale was about.