Monday Morning Musings:
“Not only are selves conditional but they die. Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead.”
–John Updike, quoted here.
“Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”
–Stephen King, The Shining
There are ghosts we see—or don’t
invoke, as though if left uncalled for
we’ll not provoke
those of the past,
who vanish–or won’t
go gentle into that good night,
the ghosts of guilt,
may waft or wilt
(seen just from the corner of your eye,
but whether unexplainable
they are us
and soon, we’ll be them.
We see two movies,
walk in between,
to see the vibrant glow of spring.
The first film set in Hungary in 1945,
a small town that seems not war-torn,
some have even thrived.
The town clerk owns a well-stocked drugstore,
more–he lives with his family in a large town house.
Others have also gained homes and wealth
obtained by stealth,
though it’s all legal, they explain
(show the papers,
for goods and property
no one left to claim).
But they are haunted by their complicity
no joy at an upcoming wedding,
where there should be felicity
secrets begin to seep—
they’re all around–
Look! Two Jews in town.
What do they want, these nearly silent men?
As they walk behind the cart,
like mourners to a grave site.
(the film shot in black and white)
Here, it’s always “God Bless,”
and the brandy seems ever handy.
There’s a Hungarian saying about this brandy–
“Palinka in small amounts is a medicine,
in large amounts a remedy.”
But there’s no remedy for what they’ve done.
What have they lost, and what have they won?
The Germans are out, the Russians are in–
A new dawn
when the Jews are gone?
But these two, why are they here,
and what is it the town folk fear?
Dark smoke billows from the train,
sun-filled day fills with thunder and rain.
The monsters are real. The ghosts are too.
They are us, and we are them.
We walk and chat
about the movie, this and that–
the susurration of sparrows,
the murmurings of spring
though the ghost of winter, touches
with icy fingers clings
as we turn from sun to shadow
you can’t flee me forever,
I’ll return in November or December,
when seeds then huddle underground,
sharing the cold comfort of the dead.
But now is for the living instead,
in blooms of green and pink and yellow and white
glowing, vibrant in the light.
We walk, seeing weddings and brides in white
smiling groups, life in color and in light.
We see a second film,
this one with ghosts up front
that an investigator will confront.
He’s a skeptic, he doesn’t believe,
but perhaps there are events he also grieves
There are scenes that makes us jump–
doors that rattle, and things that bump,
demons that are locked away,
but are released,
perhaps, to stay.
Three cases become woven together–
Will there be a happily ever after?
(Cue the nervous laughter).
We walk some more,
The Signer stands tall
through many seasons–
he’s seen them all—
though he represents freedom
he’s surrounded by ghosts
who flit over cobblestones,
manning their posts,
due diligence, remember the past—
My cat wakes me from a dream—
a ghost tells a character in a play
(stories within stories within my dream, it seems)
“we mourn the dead, but we move on.”
They are us,
and we are them.
Life moves on–
we begin again.
The final NaPoWriMo prompt asks us to “write a poem that engages with a strange and fascinating fact.” Well, I included some facts. They may or may not be strange or fascinating. For more on “odd facts” about Hungary, see here. And here is more on the Holocaust in Hungary The Signer statue is in Philadelphia’s Old City.