Stardust and Blood

Monday Morning Musings:

 “How close people could be to us when they had gone as far away as possible, to the edges of the map. How unforgettable.”

–Paula McLain, Circling the Sun

“I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,

To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,”

-Walt Whitman, “I Sing the Body Electric”

 

In the quiet morning breeze

I gaze at the sky, the pink-tinged frieze

of clouds, a line then brushed

by sun and wind, its blush

faded to white, in the diffusing sunlight.

I breathe in the ancient longing

belonging to us all—for affection,

to find connections

(despite an election)

After all, we’re all made of stardust,

and we’ve emerged from the sea,

to inhale the air made by our trees–

all related, far enough back, we share the same genes.

I don’t know what it means,

But we’re all people, not infestations,

no matter our color, religion, or nation.

 

My cousin comes to visit–

his father was the brother of my mother,

we share this blood-bond

but I don’t think we’ve ever talked

so much, so one-on-one

of this and that

(we pause to watch and pet the cat).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I display some family genealogy

and we try to parse a chronology

of those from our past,

discuss and compare

the connections we share,

different views of relatives we know

(bring out more photos to show),

My grandfather as a young man. The photo is undated, but taken in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stories of growing up

an old joke about the Penn Fruit store,

which is no more–

residing now only in our youthful before,

part of the memory,

a moss of summer dreams

that stick, it seems

even in the frost,

when autumn leaves fall,

still they call.

 

We visit the battlefield park,

watch the geese swim in formation

the same way they fly in the sky

(all the whys)

and wonder at their destination,

Red Bank Battlefield
National Park, NJ

National Park, NJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

watch the planes, look at the Philadelphia skyline—

this day is more than fine—

we walk and talk

amidst the ghosts of a battle past

after the guns fired and the cannons blast,

the Hessian soldiers here that died.

But they are quiet, and if they tried

to communicate, perhaps it was too late,

we didn’t hear them today

as we walked the pathway

in and out of yesterday.

 

We go on to our daughter’s,

whose soul glows bright,

sit with family by firelight,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

laugh and talk

and pet their dog,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

content to be in the moment here

multi-generations, with faces dear,

and if you were perhaps to overhear

amidst the jokes and banter,

you might find fear

of the future,

but it would be mostly love, you’d hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Unfinished 2

I told the poet,

I think

I think

of my dad more now,

of love not really disguised

but not quite recognized,

now the way broken

and the words unspoken.

Those days

trips to places,

open spaces,

drives to historical sites,

we always stopped

to eat,

no outing ever complete

without food,

and those restaurants,

the lingering traces,

scents and memories mined,

and entwined

with all the things

we never said–

too late regret

for what was,

remembered,

perhaps imperfectly.

Seeking to flee

our parents

and love—

the things as children

we never see

but now–

so much of them

(unfinished)

in me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This goes with my Unfinished from a few days ago. Robert Okaji’s “Empty Cup,” got me started.  I realize it also fits Jilly’s Day 16 (yesterday’s) quotation for her 28 Days of Unreason, poetry inspired by Jim Harrison’s poetry.

 

“You can’t write the clear biography
of the aches and pains inside your skull”

~ Harrison from Skull /  Songs of Unreason

 

 

 

Unfinished

“I took a nap and wept for no reason”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

My sisters and I

sat at my father’s deathbed

he, though unconscious, raged–

we held a vigil through the night,

waiting for the dawn,

and light

to see him released,

the raging ceased.

I napped then

for days it seemed

dreaming

I heard his voice,

crying when

I realized

it wasn’t real,

but love

disguised.

 

This poem is for Day 13 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, using Jim Harrison’s poetry for inspiration. I guess this is an early Father’s Day poem.

 

 

Haunted, NaPoWriMo, Day 7

Ghost–a breeze dances,

always born away,

like ocean rhythm

remembered,

haunted, I listen,

she said, “Give joy—laugh,”

and her smile lingers. . .

there, broken window sash flies in, out,

come

go,

it is but life, some magic velvet thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some words from the Poetry Oracle for Day 7.  I revised just a tiny bit, so I hope she doesn’t get upset, but she clearly understands portals.

Faith in Spring: Haibun, NaPoWriMo, Day 3

I walk out into the dark morning. I can’t see him, but I am serenaded by the mockingbird. Soon snow mixes with the plothering rain. But still the daffodils bloom, glowing in the gloomy day. As the rain disappears, the skies lighten, and I notice the grape hyacinths at the side of the driveway. Were they there yesterday? I smile at the sight of the perky purple flowers. I have faith that spring will soon come–and stay—until pushed aside by summer’s heat. Before long, we will stroll through the Azalea Garden at the art museum, dazzled by the pink, coral, and red flowers. Their warm fragrance will scent our memories when the cold returns.

 

birdsong and blossoms

trigger heart’s anamnesis—

dreams becoming truth

FullSizeRender 385

This is for Frank’s Haikai Challenge and dVerse Haibun Monday. –maybe somewhat tangentially for both prompts. I have no associations with the white lily, azaleas don’t bloom here till late spring, and I don’t have religious faith. But for any who are interested, here are some photos of the Azalea Garden at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

napo2018button2

 

 

Past and Future: Tanka

Well, it’s been a strange and not wonderful start to the New Year. My mom is in the hospital. Our Internet has been down for about a day and a half. I am trying to catch up now with e-mails, posts, and work. No Monday Morning Musings this week.

This tanka is for Frank Tassone’s New Year Challenge. I wrote it a few days ago, but this is the first chance I’ve had to post it.

 

calendar page turns

on cusp of past and future

time unchecked flows on

 

streams of shimmering light beams

paused in prismed memories

 

The_Future_Began_Here

“The future began here.” This week’s picture was taken by ESO Photo Ambassador Babak Tafreshi at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. The bright lane of the Milky Way can be seen streaking across the skies above the Chilean Atacama Desert, beneath which sits the New Technology Telescope (NTT), one of the ten active telescopes located at the observatory. . .Wikipedia Commons

 

 

 

 

Candles

Monday Morning Musings:

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

—Attributed to Anne Frank all over the Internet, but without any source that I can find

 

A single candle

(for miracles)

flickers in the night

IMG_7696

joined by others

till eight in a row

they burn, and then they go

leaving only melted wax behind

and yet, perhaps I find

something, a sense of peace

in watching them increase

and we remember how our daughters

bet on which candle would stand last

one that burned not quite as fast—

lovely memories from the past.

 

 

A single candle

(for wishes)

flickers on a cupcake

IMG_4578 2

baked with love

and so sweet, delivered as surprise treat.

FullSizeRender 289

It’s a strange birthday,

things don’t quite go my way

I lose a filling, and due to the snow

we stay and home, and don’t go

to dinner and a show,

but we eat pizza and drink some wine

and it’s fine, I say,

we’ll do something another day.

 

Everything a bit off this week,

small victories tinged with apprehension

tension over what might come, or be

a tax bill to help the rich–

oh, if only I could flip a switch

to eradicate ignorance and greed

wish on candles and stars that people would read

would help those in need

and instead of hindering, would keep freed

thought and scientific inquiry.

 

The CDC, an agency, supposed to be science-based

is not supposed to use the word

it’s not to the taste

of the current administration

who would like to see a nation

without education based on facts

but the monster simply reacts

without nuance or tact, but snaps,

just twitter taps and taps and taps

 

We fry latkes

IMG_9407

and when we’re through

IMG_7721

we eat them–and donuts, too

IMG_7731

because it’s a holiday of oil and sweets

and it’s a treat to share them with love

we eat the food and laugh and talk of–

oh this and that–

we watch their dog and see their cat

climb in search of treasure—food!

Yes, we’re in a holiday mood

as candles flicker and lights glow

FullSizeRender 290

but soon it’s time to go.

 

I spend the next day working

(cats around me lurking)

I have too much work to do

I sit at my computer

in a bit of stupor

but as night falls

we light the candles

and watch the shadows on the walls

from the flickering glow

I think of miracles past

(wonder if our country will last)

but let those thoughts slide

subside for a more festive mood

as we eat our Chinese food

and watch the Christmas shows

I might doze. . .

 

 

In the morning, before the dawn

I yawn and look up at the sky

and know that hope like a feather flies

and though the clouds block the stars

I know exactly where they are

I close my eyes and make a wish

I hope it flies and travels far.

FullSizeRender 293

 

 

 

Songs of Squirrels, Beauty, and Tradition

Monday Morning Musings:

“I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,. . .”

Walt Whitman, “I Hear America Singing”

 

“The human soul can always use a new tradition. Sometimes we require them.”

–Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline

 

“Perhaps this piece of evolution makes no sense—our hunger for everyday sorts of visual pleasure—but I don’t think so, I think we have survived because we love beauty and because we find each other beautiful. I think it may be our strongest quality.”

–Louise Erdrich, Future Home of the Living God

 

The long holiday weekend is filled with family, food, love, and traditions

my younger daughter and I break bread for stuffing

IMG_4292

it’s a calling, a mission, with certain conditions

some fluid, others unchanging

though life does some rearranging

through time and space

and so, I flashback in my mind  to my sister and me

watching Thanksgiving parades and tearing pieces from loaves

while our mother is at the stove

producing the magic of holiday meals

(then not appreciated, but now, oh the feels)

Now daughter and I, we break the bread

and watch The Gilmore Girls instead

done the day before,

crossing off this chore,

from the to-do list

and while the old, might be missed

a new holiday tradition it seems is born

taking place while the bread is torn

because sometimes we require them

even when the holiday is filled with so many.

 

On the big day—what to do

when our designated squirrel un-molder is not here?*

Another one is drafted and a crowd gathers

Offering advice on this and sundry matters

as the cranberry sauce does not want to leave the mold:

more hot water

use a spatula

A compliment:

Not only is she smooth on the dance floor,

she’s smooth on the squirrel, too.

Critique:

She can’t bang it, it’s a hundred-year old thing.

There will be no banging!

Encouragement:

Come on little squirrel we love you.

do it do it do it

Oh my gosh I think it’s happening

The crowd goes wild:

Yaaaaayy!

Another year with the squirrel!

and so, we talk and laugh and eat and drink

discuss scuba diving and money laundering

the possibility of my mom having off-shore accounts

(she doesn’t, but the thought produces much laughter).

We discover how many people it takes to get

a ninety-five-year-old woman up the stairs to the bathroom

wonder if we’re doomed,

but at least three, it seems,

still, we enjoy the holiday and dreams

watched by the spirits of those no longer with us

it is ever thus,

the ghosts of holidays past,

“remember when,” the common refrain

joining in a train

the days from before

to what will come hence

past and future tense

blended together,

a holiday casserole of memories and dreams,

like the dish of leftovers my sister tells me she made

layers laid atop one another,

savory, tart, and just a little sweet

the art of distinct layers that together seep

to form when mixed through

something entirely new.

 

The next day, we take our older daughter and her wife

on a journey to see visual pleasures

in nature and art, such treasures

a visit with the boating party

scream at monsters

FullSizeRender 265

or just scream

dine by the water

and dance in the woods

we hear America sing

its varied songs

and glory in Impressionistic delight

IMG_7523

Later, we eat leftovers

and watch The Blair Witch Project–

because nothing says family coziness like horror movies–

with food

America singing its varied carols

 

We do a holiday wine tasting in the barrel room

Scott, assists us, keeping up a lively patter

as he describes the wine and other matters

it is a beautiful fall day

and so, we decide to stay

to sit outside

while we imbibe

watching the soaring hawks

and listening to others talk

looking at the daytime moon

enjoying this weather, thinking winter will be here soon.

We eat Pakistani food

and meet out daughter and son-in-law’s neighbors

who have become friends–the kind of whom you can ask favors,

we discuss how our daughters sound alike,

one tells how she used to sneak about at night,

and we counter with embarrassing childhood stories

(the glory of parental territory)

perhaps the start of a new tradition,

of perhaps it is sufficient

to see and relish the present and the everyday.

 

Now, it’s four o’clock Monday morning,

we’re awake for the sake

of our daughter and her wife

who have to catch their flight

though it seems the middle of the night,

yet I’m strangely alert

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear

of parents and children saying goodbye

of politicians trying to tear apart, like stuffing bread,

when they could be constructing something good instead

of children going off to school

hoping they will learn some tools

to navigate this brave new world

that has such people in’t

both good and bad

some sad, hungering for traditions, or new conditions,

for truth and beauty to negate the hate

I see a squirrel scamper from a tree,

and over us, the moon hums her tune

I watch for the sun to rise in autumn beauty–soon

FullSizeRender 269

 

We visited Grounds for Sculpture again and did a Holiday Wine Trails tasting in the barrel room at Sharrott Winery.

 

*I explained the tradition of the cranberry squirrel in this post.

 

The Owl: Haibun

It is my birthday. Now in the middle of December, it is cold outside, and darkness descends earlier each day. But the house is filled with light, warm and scented with the aroma of holiday baking. My husband, our two young daughters, and I are to meet my father at a restaurant north of us, in the Philadelphia suburbs to celebrate. It will be a highway trip through rush hour traffic, but the reward will be an excellent meal and the company of my family. I turn to a living room window to pull down the shade—and stop. A white owl with black and brown markings sits in the tree directly in front of me. I stare at her, and she stares at me, both unblinking. I am transfixed, knowing that this is a special moment, not knowing I will remember it in twenty years, still uncertain about its meaning.

 

The Owl dispenses

winter wisdom from oak trees–

time paused in passing

 

Caspar_David_Friedrich_Eule_auf_schmucklosem_Baum_1834

Caspar David Friedrich, Owl on a Tree,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is a Haibun for dVerse, where we asked to write about owls. I’ve combined it with this week’s prompt from Colleen Chesebro , using synonyms for the words, smell and cozy.