The Week That Was, The Week We Dream

Monday Morning Musings:

 

“Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.”
–Langston Hughes, “Dreams”

 

“I dreamed of 747s

Over geometric farms

Dreams Amelia—dreams and false alarms”

–Joni Mitchell, “Amelia (1976)

 

“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.”

–Jonas Salk

 

Once my older daughter and I dreamed the same dream

in morning light, over breakfast plates

we discussed the dream, the hopes that wait

inside of you

to come at night, and go in day,

but I no longer remember what was said

the images now gone, the message, too,

there might have been a flute, or a dancer, perhaps

and I don’t know how it happened,

how our thoughts entwined or over lapsed,

but we share a common dream with many

a dream of justice for all, and ordinary,

for broken-wings that cannot fly

to soar on golden wings high into the sky.

 

I think of this in the fluster and bluster of the holiday season,

with thoughts that come without reason,

come now in moments of calm and comfort,

hot onion soup and warm spiced wine,

 

breaks for dreams and flights of fancy, transport

from tedium of work, of this and that, and revisions,

and I look down at my lap, try to imagine

the dreams of my cat, of his visions

wonder if there’s hope

or images of what has been.

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I wonder what he dreams?

 

In the fluster and bluster of the holiday season,

I see a glorious sunset,

visible above the suburban mall,

crowning it, a coronet

of orange and red, streaked with clouds of ash-grey

pausing before I look away

to start my car

but making note of it in my mind,

nature’s art, unsigned

left behind

because it’s cold, and I’m tired

and I so I don’t linger or stay.

 

On my car radio, I hear John Glenn has died,

a true hero, a man with dreams,

who worked to make them come true,

but still seemed humble,

even as he soared, appreciating the sun rising and setting

but never forgetting,

truth and facts matter, too.

I think of watching space missions

on school TVs perched up high on wheeled carts

we never questioned the conditions, the positions,

life took place in black and white then

over and over, again and again,

Us and Them

Cold War and the Iron Curtain,

the phrase, the image

both terrified and perplexed me,

rather than strong and powerful,

existence seemed strained and uncertain.

 

But that was then,

now–who knows?

now the images are colored,

but fear and ignorance is unfurled,

black and white, some still view our world,

see iron curtains, want iron walls.

False prophets and false alarms.

 

I refuse to accept this new normal,

where two plus two equals whatever is

Tweeted and Re-Tweeted

till many believe what never was, is.

I read of heroes,

and I know resistance is not futile

and I will not go gently,

will listen intently,

I will rage against the dying of light

will fight for what’s right,

because there is always the crack where the light gets in.

 

And so—

we eat comfort food

we drink wine

 

watch TV

and wrap presents

we look for magic in the ordinary and the extraordinary.

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Holiday Magic

 

And so—

I write, spread facts, not rumors

urge others to be consumers

of love and what is real

and what is already great,

but not hate.

I dare to dream,

to make dreams a reality,

to heal the broken-wings of hope

and send it flying

like 747s over geometric farms

I watch the sun rise and set

and think it is not over,

no, not yet.

 

We tasted some delicious wine at Sharrott Winery in Hammonton, NJ. Then drank a bottle with some brie.  And we talked of hopes and dreams.

 

 

Rain, or the Slightly Scary Inner Workings of My Mind

It’s a cold and rainy day in southern New Jersey. One of the spin instructors at my gym always says, “It’s a beautiful day. You woke up. It’s a beautiful day.” So there is that. The sky is the light, slightly pearlescent gray that would be attractive in a sweater or scarf, but not so much in the winter sky where it blends into the darker gray of the wet street. I started thinking about weather and wondered how often it figured in literary plots. I thought of reading Wuthering Heights when I was in sixth grade–it was one of my prized Scholastic Books purchases—and remembered the scene in which Lockwood, the narrator, is caught in a storm and forced to seek shelter for the night at Wuthering Heights. After dozing off, he is awakened by the tapping of a branch on the windowpane. When he opens the window he sees a ghostly figure, and then when he reaches out, his hand is clasped by an ice-cold hand and voice asking to be let in. Ohhhhh. . .those delicious chills you get from reading about ghosts while wrapped snugly in a warm and cozy place.

This memory of my long ago young self sparked yet another memory of coming home from the movies with my mom and older sister in a storm in Dallas, where we lived at the time. There was hail, which was scary—at some point, then or another time, we had hail that actually broke a window in our house. My mom made us hot dogs and hot cocoa, which at the time seemed very comforting.

(I think hot dogs are repulsive, and I’ve never really liked them, so I think what I actually found comforting were the toasted rolls. Toast is always comforting, especially when it is eaten with cocoa. When my daughters were little, I always made them cinnamon toast and cocoa when they came in from playing in the snow. My husband was the designated snow player, and I was the designated toast and cocoa maker. Cinnamon toast and cocoa would probably be my top comfort food, although I can’t remember when I last had it. Now I’m craving cinnamon toast, aren’t you? My husband will say it always comes back to food with me, and I will say, yes, and what’s the problem? And now I feel the need to make a sour cream coffee cake with cinnamon streusel with perhaps a touch of cocoa this afternoon. You want some, too, don’t you? This is why I go to the gym even on a miserable rainy day.)

(Second digression—my husband said to me the other day in the car, how do you come up with these things? I tend to suddenly ask him weird things or make comments that seem totally random. We were on our way to see a play, The Body of an American, which deals with journalism, writing, war photography, unlikely friendships, ghosts, dysfunctional families, and unlikely friendships—among other things. I said, “We should buy a cheap tray table that we can keep in the car for when we go to wineries and things.” He thought this comment was totally out of the blue. I explained: we had been discussing rehearsal dinners, and I thought of when our older daughter got married last summer. The night before the rehearsal dinner, we went to a local winery and sat outside with my homemade challah and some cheese and drank some wine, but didn’t have a table to put the food on. My husband agreed it was a brilliant idea. And yes, it does always come back to food.)

So back to weather and literature. I think it would be difficult to write a book and never mention the weather. Sometimes it creates a necessary plot device—for example, the blizzard in Stephen King’s The Shining. I recently read Jane Smiley’s Some Luck. Focusing on the everyday life of one family, there are scenes in which it seems like nothing much happens, and yet it is so elegant in its simplicity. That is what life is like for most people. It is made up of the chores we do at home, the conversations we have with our family members and friends, our work, and yes, the weather.

“It was a dark and stormy night. . .” is the opening of the much-parodied sentence by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. (See information on the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest here.)

But sometimes it actually is a dark and stormy night. Or a gray and rainy day. And sometimes the weather sparks memories, and sometimes memories spark baking. And these things may or may not lead to good writing. They may lead simply to some great food—and more memories.

And now it’s time for lunch.

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
–Langston Hughes, “April Rain Song”

“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.”

–Bill Watterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book

“Well, what tongue does the wind talk? What nationality is a storm? What country do rains come from? What color is lightning? Where does thunder go when it dies?”

–Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes