It had seen so much— first dates and engagements, birthdays, and once a birth— a death, too—no, not the food—
here, weary people had shuffled in after work, the weight of life like a box of books, heavy and threaded with old ticket stubs and bookmark photos, carried from place to place, but set aside with the coats and umbrellas, to be picked up again a couple hours later, by carriers feeling refreshed and somehow stronger–
the empty dining room remembers laughing children and impatient lovers, whose fingers parted to lift a glass or spoon– love, grief, joy, excitement embedded in these walls, still scented with garlic, lemon, and vanilla that had floated like champagne bubbles
to burst, sharp as the chef’s knives in the kitchen–where unplugged appliances yet hum, remembering what was, wondering what will come next.
A poem for my prompt on dVerse. My dad would have been 103 today, and he always took us out to eat on his birthday. I wonder about some of the restaurants we went to a long time ago.
We lay on the grassy expanse between the college dormitories. We’re firm-skinned and flat-bellied, our hearts are full of passion, our heads full of dreams. We gaze up at the clouds sailing across the moonlit sky like the days, months, and years of a time-lapsed nature film. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Almost fifty years later, I still remember that wonder.
make a wish on moonflower clouds– remember
I’m hosting Haibun Monday with the prompt “Look Up!” Join us.
“For nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.” –Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby
I remember that spring, the winter of despair, the flow of river into spring again
and again, the earth blooms, and birds come and go, soaring into clouds
that move across the sky– the constancy of sun and moon, the ephemerality of life,
insistent green sprigs emerging from driftwood, bleached and beached.
Each day the same and different, each sunrise a threshold to the unknown.
In dreams, my mother asks for chocolate– she says there’s more for them that wants.
This is how it is— this is who we who are, full of ifs and when
there is both laughter and the aches of time and memory–
we are here. Now I watch the bees,
and I remember too late, to tell them my secrets and wishes–
but perhaps they already know, telling their own dreams in buzz waltz,
remembering a day of endless sweet nectar, and brilliant colors that we cannot see,
yet can imagine, reflected in a sunrise yet to come.
This week has been a strange and strangely beautiful week of clouds, rain, and sunshine. I suppose that’s how August is. We’re supposed to get a return of the high heat and humidity. Yesterday, some family members got together at my sister’s house for the first time since the pandemic. It wasn’t everyone, and even though it was right before my mom’s birthday, it wasn’t really a memorial, though we did have a Sunday brunch fish tray, with fruit, and my Mandelbrot and brownies for dessert. For those who don’t know, we used to have lox and other smoked fish with cream cheese and bagels–plus a whole lot more–fairly often when I was growing up. Every so often, my grandfather, my father’s father, would bring the delicatessen food, which also included herring, rye bread, and coffee cake, to my mom’s (even though my parents were divorced). My mom would supply the juice, coffee, boiled red potatoes, and sometimes I’d bake something. Then, it became a special family brunch occasion because it has become very expensive, plus more difficult to get together. Mindful of the Delta strain–even though we’re all vaccinated–we stayed masked indoors, except for when eating—and we tried to stay far apart then. Fortunately, the weather cleared up enough for us to go outside for dessert. My parents were there in spirit and ash.
When we got home, we took a brief walk, and pulling into the driveway were surprised by this.
Open a window to another universe– there is always an after and before
the bang and birth of stars, the flutter-shift of vibrating strings across dimensions, the light on stellar wings—
he sings, she laughs the fever-dreams of future-past- perfect brings
remembrance, she, and we see-saw imperfectly and fractured–all colored by mood and life-swings
in revolutions, the Earth spins, love, laughter, tears, and fears—it begins and ends
the stars sing, and we catch their light, swallow to hold it within, and in our dreams, or in some after, we sing their songs in flight.
Today my father would be 102. We’re going to have Chinese food and ice cream for dinner tonight–both of which he loved. My mom’s birthday is later this month, and she would have turned 99. My parents divorced (twice), but in my mom’s final years she believed my dad lived in the same building, and in her final months, she talked about him a lot, always with smiles and giggles. I think she was in love again. Of course, they were my stars.
The first set of photos were taken long before I was born. My brother is about twelve years my senior.
My mom’s first cousin, who was like her sister, turned 95 yesterday. There was a small party for her. My sister, husband, and I stayed masked in the house, but took our masks off outside. We got her a blanket that had a word cloud of English and Yiddish words we chose.
We ate homemade pizza and streamed a play this week: The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington by James Ijames performed as part of the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, which looks like a beautiful place to see a play. In the play, Martha Washington is dying, and the enslaved people around her are waiting, as they will be freed when she dies. In her fever dreams she imagines them in various guises, as lawyers, Founding Fathers and Mothers, and King George and Queen Charlotte. The play is funny, sad, witty, and unique. Here’s the NY Times review.
“Remember you are all people and all people are you. Remember you are this universe and this universe is you.” –from Jo Harjo, “Remember”
Today we remember— the ones who lie buried, the ones lost at sea,
But do you remember before memory? How the world came to be?
From stars, all the oceans, and then soon the trees,
You remember this, yes? Ancestral memory
of long before when, and where soft voices go, to live on, maybe
pretend. We should remember in every war fought, each side will plea–
saying God’s on our side, and we’re in the right, the land of the free.
But after every battle, there’s a hole, a wound left in a town and family–
all those who died. There may be pride, or anguish or a question of degree—was it necessary?
So, remember the sun still there behind the clouds, and the moon, humming fiercely
listen now. Listen to Crow, the creator, who foretells what will be,
preserve what you can, fight if you must for beauty and truth, disagree
with the haters and authoritarian dupes, help the world to better be–
remember her laugh, remember childhood giggles and purring cat– hear all the songs in your memory,
and let the world’s wonder wander through– remember you are all and all are you.
It’s Memorial Day here in the U.S. It’s also a three-day weekend. When vice-president Kamala Harris mentioned that in a tweet, conservative hypocrites who willingly overlooked every horror the former twice-impeached resident of the White House ever did or uttered acted outraged. Meanwhile, they are doing all they can to suppress democratic rights, such as the freedom to vote. I prefer real democracy to mindless flag waving.
Meanwhile, no thanks to the former administration, people in the U.S. are getting vaccinated, and many places have lifted all or nearly all Covid restrictions. I’m not entirely comfortable with it yet, but I have met with friends. The weather has been all over the place–from summer heat, where turned on the a/c to cold enough to turn the heat back on. It was good weather to bake and cook.
Merril’s Movie Club: We watched The Father. One review I read described the movie as “a Rashomon of dementia.” The movie is from the viewpoint of a man whose mind is going. It is difficult to tell what is real, and the movie is purposefully confusing, brilliant, and harrowing. There is also a wonderful opera soundtrack. Anthony Hopkins deserved his Oscar, and Olivia Coleman was excellent, as was the entire cast. Meanwhile, we’re onto Season 2 of Dexter. We might need to take a break with something a bit lighter. 🤣
Her hands are a kaleidoscope, holding within all the colors, shapes, textures she once touched. Far distant memories telescoped and brought close—flaking pink polish on her nails makes her think of flowers that grew in her garden, her crooked finger, reminds her of her mother’s hands.
Her hands are a map, the etched lines a pathway showing where she’s gone and where she’s heading. That crosshatch marks the years of the now-demolished city shop where she touched goods and gestured to customers— these show the first time
she picked up a paintbrush, or held a small boy’s hand as he scampered on a beach. She sees his boy-face in her mind, clearer to her than his man-face, though it’s been decades since he was a boy. Her hands
are treasure boxes full of memories—everything she has ever touched—children, flowers, pets, lovers. She can’t see the spots on her skin, or the wrinkled creases, but she can feel the touch of my skin— my hand holding hers.
The morning moon hummed fiercely today in the heat. I will be staying inside and taking work breaks to read Issue 2 of Black Bough Poetry, “Lux Aeterna” –Eternal Light. It is filled with tributes to Apollo 11–breathtaking poems and wonderful artwork. Please do take a look.
I am thrilled to have two poems in this issue, “Moon Landing” and “Dark Matter.” Thank you to editor Matthew M C Smith (no relation, though my husband has some Welsh ancestry. . .) for selecting my poems and for editorial suggestions on “Dark Matter.”
These are the grown puppies mentioned in “Moon Landing”–a bit blurred, like a memory.
I think of my dad today and how he admired Tony Hillerman’s novels, mysteries involving the Navajo Tribal Police. Once he wrote Mr. Hillerman a letter and received a gracious reply. It’s been twenty years now since my father died. He’d be ninety-nine today—perhaps he’d have new favorite books and authors. He was a man filled with passion—for food, women, art, history–and for his children and grandchildren. He thought we were the best and brightest, no question. Though he expected all to wait upon him–courtiers of the court of Lee–yet—he was generous with love, presents, and hundreds of restaurant meals. He was always proud of me and assigned my first book to his history classes. (Sorry). I wish my dad was still here to read my words. I love you, Dad. I miss you.
yellow-green stems grow
vivid blooms in summer’s heat—
then red-gold leaves fall
This is for open link night at dVerse, where Lillian is hosting. I’ve given a nod to National Book Lovers Day in my Haibun.