Hearts at the River’s Edge

Driftwood, Sunrise on the Delaware River

The earth murmurs ancient heart-songs.
Hear them in root-rush and rock-rhythms
tapped by sea-spray rainbows.
The eagle’s whistle slices the peached-tipped clouds–
life and death balanced. Hand-in-hand, we watch the light glide through
love-grief fault lines, as the ghosts dance at the river’s edge.

A quadrille (a poem of exactly 44 words) for dVerse where De asks us to use the word heart. I could have gone in so many directions!

Enduring Dreams

Reflections. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

How does the Earth begin its spin each day?
With constancy it turns to seek the light
of sun, then sister stars dance in their way
sparkling the darkling, glimmering the night.
And with these sights, so constant and so true,
the physics of space, the motions that trace
the course of years, our course, being with you
through sorrow, more joy, a smile on your face,
even as lines delve deeper, gray grows hair,
the trees once green are dusted with the snow,
fledglings feather-wing themselves in the air
catching the currents, soaring through wind-blow—
and I watch the river glow as it flows
reflecting dreams, life, us, endures and goes.

My attempt at a Shakespearean sonnet for Ingrid’s EIF Sonnet Sunday for Valentine’s Day. I don’t quite have the meter right, but it’s a first draft and written at 6 AM. Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Together

Ilya Repin, “What Freedom!”

If how we need the sea is an ache,
then why? The wanting to return to a dream,
recalling water in diamond sprays on purple rocks and salted air,
flying starward to eternity—this is the before and after,
light and shadow, rhythm and music of the vast then and now,
a wild blue breeze. We surrender to time, wake to a universe of poetry,
together scream through the storm, our honeyed laughter soars, lingering.

This is an ekphrastic message from the Oracle. As I was writing, I got the image of this painting in my head. She’s obviously a fan, and a bit of romantic–at least today.

All My Senses

Sun through the fog. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

All my senses come alive

in the beauty of tree-glow, cinnamon and gold
seep into my skin, neuron-sparked,

I taste the pastel river blues, mint and citrus,
drink the night’s indigo, red wine, vanilla-scented and wood-smoke

hazing the humming moon–
and I dream

of morning sky tasting of peaches and ripe berries
bursting with sweetness.

With trembling fingers, I touch rainbow-lettered you
but love is white light, composed of every color,

holding stars songs of yesterday and tomorrow.

For dVerse, where Grace asked us to write a poem on synesthesia, specifically grapheme color synesthesia, so I hope I got it right.

If I Dream

If I beat away the shadows,
will the moon’s music drift
in a shining spray of silver
to dazzle-dance in haunting rhythms
till the sun wakes—then

if I rise,
languid as a summer day,
will the murky mist shift
to reveal an azure sky, where geese wing
above in raucous celebration of life?

If I ask moon, sun, geese,
will they tell me the secrets
of why and when and nevermore—
of how time is a dream, and how dreamtime flutters
and flits, like leaves in the wind?

If I dream of you,
of laughter flowering,
dropping seeds in my heart
do you grow and bloom–
to live forever?

It took me all day today to visit and get my message from the poetry Oracle. I took the photo this morning. It’s a beautiful day here.

Looking at Yesterday, Seeing Tomorrow

Monday Morning Musings:

“Sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness and tears.”

–from Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, “Sunrise, Sunset,” Fiddler on the Roof (1964)

After thousands of sunrises and sunsets

the years fly quickly,

faster now, summer turns to autumn,

spring tears fall and shoots appear–

winter snow glitters on our heads.

 

Once I was a turtle,

slowly walking across a road

I hid my head from others

though I showed off my lovely carapace,

then you took me from my shell

A711D37C-F864-46AA-9082-DF6F3F5FA66A

and brought me into the world of people.

I showed you the world of books and art,

introduced you to exotic turtle food

and we played and burrowed deep,

into our blanket nest.

 

Our children were fawns

long-legged, shy, and fey,

until their camouflaging spots faded,

and then they sang the songs of birds

and gathered the wisdom of owls

 

tossing words, pitching music, and beaming light

into the world–

sometimes it was reflected back

in all the colors of the universe,

bringing love.

BC30E44A-4E31-4EA7-86D5-9BC4BFB11F06

8896A486-2E82-4758-8C27-DAB0C546E0BD

And now?

The water calls to me in rivers, streams, and oceans,

I sometimes carry the heavy weight of my shell,

but you share the burden,

and when I look at my reflection,

E6DA421D-37E8-4677-820B-3DD7E532E6F1649CEB36-897F-48C5-A99F-C958ED390F1420A016AA-F715-4661-991E-7AD707AC52EB

 

I see worlds beyond worlds–

the absurdity of the upside-down,

the glowing rays of a double sun

the promise of all the ifs,

and the hope in infinite possibilities stretching to forever.

16BD6D98-ABCB-46CF-9EAE-9056A4433011

I do not look to yesterday but walk into the future.

 

We celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary a few days ago, but we’ve known each other since ninth grade. To celebrate, we went to Ocean City, NJ and walked on the beach for a couple of hours in the morning, avoiding people as best we could. Then later we went on our first real outing since March. We went to a winery for our anniversary dinner, where we sat outside physically distanced from the other patrons, and after a brief thunderstorm, we enjoyed wine, pizza, and gelato. I think we were both a bit giddy to be out. I put my mask back on whenever our masked server came to the table.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Merril’s Movie Club: Back to more obscure Merril films. Both are on Netflix. We watched See You Yesterday, which we both really liked. All of the acting is excellent, especially the two engaging leads who portray brilliant Black teens hoping to get scholarships to good universities—a future. But this is very much a Black Lives Matter film, and they attempt to change the past. Playing on the theme, Michael J. Fox has a cameo appearance.

We also watched Bulbul, an Indian horror film—though it’s not a jump out of your seat horror. It’s more of a dark fable with beautiful cinematography.  It deals with a child bride and her life as an adult in her husband’s household, where her best friend is her brother-in-law. There is a tale of a demon/goddess who lives in the trees and swoops down to attack men at night. The story is retold throughout the movie. We both liked it, though I think I liked it more than my husband did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sailing Through Time

512px-Redon_barque_mystique

Redon, “Barque Mystique”

 

In a dream,

I sailed the night sky,

swallowed the music of the stars,

merged with them, glowing incandescent,

red shifting, drifting through time and beyond–

 

and when I woke,

I took your hand. We opened a door

together, began a new life,

of hopes, fears, love, tears–

ebbing, flowing, drifting through time–and beyond.

 

For  Anmol’s prompt on dVerse, “Portals,”  

I’m using this Redon painting again because it fits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Magic Lives in Our Hearts

Monday Morning Musings:

“That was how evil spoke. It made its own corrupt sense; it swore that the good were evil, and that evil had come to save mankind. It brought up ancient fears and scattered them on the street like pearls. To fight what was wicked, magic and faith were needed. This is what one must turn to when there was no other option.”

–Alice Hoffman, The World That We Knew

“Grey Rock centers on the idea that human curiosity is stronger that gravity. I believe that art, which has no boundaries, can influence dialogue.”

Playwright and Director of Grey Rock, Amir Nizar Zuabi

IMG_6130

I am here

in the space between–

sunrise to my front

and moonset to my back,

in between past and future

IMG_6193

I sit

holding the moment

in my thoughts,

where it remains

though the earth continues

 

its revolutions round the sun,

turning on its axis.

We gaze at the moon

with longing,

a part of us

 

that rock

I see rising silver

then gold–

not grey

like the sodden clouds

D2C61D70-2CB1-4FF1-BF1E-B74CC5343D18

Taken from the Commodore Barry Bridge

 

blown away by the wind.

Windswept our dreams fly

free–

we all have the right to dream

the Palestinian man in the play

 

dreams of building a rocket,

sending it to the moon.

He loves his daughter,

he loved his wife,

and love is magic

 

the people in the novel find,

though evil is real,

it is all around them–

the Angel of Death is kept busy

but love has its own power.

 

And so,

we talk as we walk

through city streets

reflecting the past

as we think about our future.

26764F52-312B-42F8-A2E2-22955898E156

Pennsylvania Hospital in a window reflection.

00595B64-6F85-4EAD-98AE-0071459F4207

Spring by David Guinn Philadelphia Mural Arts 13th and Pine

 

There is beauty,

there is magic,

all around us–

are we blind or too afraid

to see it,

IMG_6192

Finding signs of spring

hear it call

in the trill of birdsong

the tumbling crash of waves

the humming of the moon

and the music of the stars

 

floating down to us.

Listen–

it shimmers

and echoes in our hearts,

beating

 

free–

a dream flying

into orbit,

a thing of magic and beauty—

and here around us.

 

I fear we’re in scary times, but we can’t lose hope or the ability to dream.

It’s the start of birthday month here with more to come.

 

We saw the play Grey Rock by Amir Nizar Zuabi and a Palestinian cast performing in English. It was commissioned and produced by the Remote Theater Project. It was also part of Philadelphia Theater Week. We both really enjoyed the play, which was funny, tender, and moving.

I read Alice Hoffman’s The World That We Knew. It is magical realism mixed with Jewish folklore and history. It is set during the Holocaust, and it involves the bond of mothers and daughters. There is a female golem and birds. A heron also figures prominently in the story. As you might suspect, I absolutely loved it.

No movies this week, but we watched Season 1 of Counterpart on Prime. J.K. Simmons is wonderful, and he gets to play two characters, in this spy thriller that involves parallel worlds.

 

Dance

Monday Morning Musings:

“And may the spirit of this song

May it rise up pure and free

May it be a shield for you

A shield against the enemy”

–Leonard Cohen, “Lover, Lover, Lover”

 

“Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on

Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long

We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love”

–Leonard Cohen, “Dance Me to the End of Love”

 

My absent daughter

draws the golden peacock

but forgets the fallen feather

can also be a quill

to write the words that dance

upon the page of time,

and from love and grief

and longing

the phrases soar in endless flight–

to bear witness of love and loss

in song to spread the light

***

In this week

of lies and revelation

we go about our lives

without hesitation

because there are deadlines

and care

for those we love

and responsibility

to share—

but oh, the sky,

the clouds

the air

that shimmers

and glimmers

on dew drops

in the morning light

that sight–

BDAA55B7-6795-43E4-BEBA-5845A21C4BF6

and the honk of geese

in victory flight

IMG_4444

and so,

we take a break

forget the cake

I still must bake

 

reflect

upon each passing sight

on this autumn day

the sun is bright

and summer-like

but inside cooler

as the lights dim

and the show begins

the dancers strong

and full of grace

without a trace

of doubt, fluid lines

muscle and bone

move together, alone

upon the stage

they dance

homage to poetic phrase

in each turn or raise

of arm and leg

and yes, I say

it was worth it to pay

though now

I’m even more

behind

IMG_4479

I see love–

coming and going

and isn’t that always the way?

spring to summer and fall

and before long

winter will come

and will we dance then at all?

Yes, I think

we will add layers

to layers

and though our hair

will turn greyer

still we’ll laugh

and dance, press

on

 

my sister-niece says

I love mom’s belly laugh,

and we all agree

a bright spot

in a gloomy sea

that seems endless–

a beacon, a buoy

we embrace,

when she and the world is screwy.

IMG_4494

And though there are fewer

at our holiday table

and we miss those unable

to be with us,

we laugh and talk

and drink our wine

dip apples in honey–

that boy is so funny

the way he loves my challah—

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

we eat the meal

and here’s the deal—

time moves on

but our traditions remain

so, there’s brisket and kugel

for the year to be sweet, not dull–

bright gold of pumpkin soup

and before long, dessert—

 

in and endless loop

the seasons pass

and years dance on

from dusk to dawn

in saraband or waltz

sorrow, love–

with just a bit of schmaltz

 

we say our goodbyes

and sigh

(though the men roll their eyes)

we need that family compound

so we can all come around

whenever need be.

That could be

easier for all of us, you see

 

time will tell

somehow, dwell

on the here and now,

we have each other

and sleepy cats—

there is that.

 

We clean up,

put away each dish

I pause, wish

to dance to the end

of light

as it bends

refracts

and twirls

to begin again.

 

Dream–

the spirit of this song.

IMG_4440

 

Last night was the start of Rosh Hashanah. Wishing all of you a very sweet year!

One of my daughters posted her drawing of a golden peacock from Jewish tradition and a message about what it means to her. You can see her Instagram post here. 

We saw Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal perform Dance Me, “an exclusive creation inspired by the rich and profound work of Montreal-based poet, artist, and songwriter, Leonard Cohen” (from the program notes). You can see some excerpts here.