Shelter for Dreams

Monday Morning Musings:

Heron at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

Dawn blush lightens the grey
over the rippling river
heron poses in sunrise salutation

in silvered blues
beauty comes
through shadows to light

waves roll out and slide back in
the moon waxes and wanes,
and time flows,

through tide pools
reflecting clouds and light,
giving shelter to dreams.

Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

Today is Yom Kippur, so I’m not going to do a usual MMM post. I don’t want to discuss politics, or even my past week. With so much awfulness in the world–and more likely to come–I felt an especial need for beauty this morning. I was fortunate. As soon as I walked into the park, I saw these two young deer. Then I saw the heron, and the beauty of the sky took my breath away. Magic moments. Wishing some beauty, love, kindness–and magic, too, to all of you in the coming year.

Love, Loss, and Dancing Through It

Monday Morning Musings:

Beat away the aching time
in river blues, see serene, sublime

Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

in those rippling rhythms. The tide rolls in, and thus begins
another round of what and when and who wins

the life and death struggles, the eagle soars, swoops, a pounce
there goes the fish, squirrel, another ounce, but we can’t denounce

an avian predator who wants to eat,
but human ones, we must unseat.

I see the lawn-stuck signs of misguided fools who think
freedom comes with soundbite slogans–but we’re on the brink

standing on a precipice, tottering, about to fall
while they embrace the treacherous, Russians and all–

the lies they think are fine, wish them away, spin, deny
in sheep-like flocks they gather, unmasked, I sigh

as I walk, watch the geese honk and fly
greeting each other, hello, goodbye

I say, wonder what it’s like to twirl and soar
and then, I go home to bake some more,

to dip bread and apples in honey’s sweetness
to wish for good to flourish, feeling a completeness

of life with loved ones, though from afar
with a world increasingly troubled and bizarre.

Every day more and more, surpassing–
we’re saddened by news of a hero’s passing.

More wine, more honey
talk of this and that, find something funny—

hold on to love (is love is love is love is love is love)
dance when you can, look for beauty above

and all around, fight for justice and truth—
remember our heroes, remember Ruth.

We celebrated the first night of Rosh Hashanah with a Zoom dinner with our daughters and their spouses. I don’t know how to make a small holiday meal, even though there are just two of us here. We heard about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg when the news flashed on a daughter’s phone.

Merril’s Movie Club: We saw And Then We Danced, which now is free on Amazon Prime. We had seen previews for it before the pandemic hit, and though I enjoyed the movie, it would have been wonderful to see it on a big screen. The film is about Merab, a member of Georgia’s National Dance Ensemble. It’s an art form that is beautiful, but rigid, and steeped in tradition. Merab and a new dancer, Iralki are first rivals, but then attracted to each other. It is dangerous to be gay in Georgia (the country, not the state). The government would not finance the movie, and there were bodyguards on the set. The choreographer remains anonymous. I fear this is what it could be like here.
My husband and I both liked the movie very much. The drumming music is great. The subtitles could be better, and they even though I watch subtitled movies all the time, I had to full with the settings.

Laboring

Monday Morning Musings:

Sunrise over the Delaware River

We labor, belabor, debate, defend
fend for ourselves, hope for trends

to alter course, reverse, against the wind
we traverse, carrying the past in heart and mind,

find that light is a constant, but time is not—
still we dine and drink some wine

Friday Night, Wine, Challah, Candles

without the rhythm and beats of city streets
reflections found in river, not in town—

I find beauty all around.

It doesn’t change what is, or what may be—
catastrophe, democracy’s fall, more plagues

all this or other. I read horror tales of ghosts
less scary than most of what is real, or almost–the boasts

of the fascist chiefs, the spreading of so many false beliefs
rumors can be deadly, and I think of the imposter priest

who despite his flaws, gets at the truth, and heals
a village. So many maligned, but is there is goodness in us all?

Perhaps. Though it may be hard to tell. Crimes of passion,
crimes of war, crimes of vengeance—so many more—

the people we neglect, the things we regret.
And yet, the moon shines silver in the night,

the sky is blue, the sun is bright. I walk through shadows,
and into light. Watch as birds take sudden flight—soar, unbound—

beauty all around.

Water Lilies, West Deptford Public Library Rain Garden

Today is Labor Day here in the U.S. I took a look at my post from last year. So much has changed. This is a bit of a response to that, I suppose. I kept the format of couplets, though not ending rhymes.


Merril’s Movie, TV, and Whatever Club: We saw the Polish movie, Corpus Christi. It was Poland’s entry this past year for the Academy Awards. We had seen previews for it. I’m not sure if it made it to the theater in Philadelphia before they closed or not. In any case, we both thought it was excellent. Almost like old times, we discussed it over wine and dinner—though our discussion was the next day at a local winery.

Wine and Grilled Cheese at William Heritage Winery.

We watched the French mystery series, Le Chalet with an earworm of a title song—even for those of us who don’t really speak French. It seemed like it was going to be a horror story at the beginning, but it turned out to be similar to an old-fashioned mystery, a Ten Little Indians sort of tale though with two timelines. We both liked it, though it was a bit confusing sorting out the characters for a while. We’re currently watching a Finnish mystery, Deadwind. It’s good, and I think we will become more involved with it as it goes on. There are lots of twists and turns—what seems like a straightforward murder case is not (of course). Both of these are on Netflix.

I just finished reading The Invited by Jennifer McMahon, a ghost story and also a mystery with different timelines and connecting stories. So, you know, a good Merril book. And my favorite podcast Ghost in the Burbs is back. Yay!

Oh, but speaking of favorite podcasts, the delightful Damien Donnelly now has a podcast. So. . . I guess that’s also my favorite (different genres). 😀

Butterflies and Theories

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Butterfly flying about the colonial garden. Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

Look, there!

A butterfly

flits from bloom to bloom, she

flaps her wings, and you stand still

watching–

thus, missing the snake in the grass

who slithers by unseen.

No step, no bite-

random

           

changes,

chaos theory,

nothing predetermined–

the comet races by, but still

you see

the comma tail, inviting a

sequence. What will come next?

So, you wonder,

what if?

 

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A snake slithered across the path in front of me at Red Bank Battlefield Park.

 

I decided to have a bit of fun with Colleen’s poet choice challenge,which must be some sort of syllabic poetry. I wrote a double butterfly cinquain to joke about the butterfly effect. 😏

I’m also linking this to dVerse’s Open Link Night, which of course, was last night, but that’s how I roll these days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impermanent and Fine

 

Sunset over the Delaware River, Feb.2020

Sun and clouds reflected on the surface of the Delaware River, Feb. 24, 2020     Merril D. Smith

 

I watch the apricot sun settle

in feathered-grey clouds

reflected in the water

 

the rocks on the shore–

with time,

they’ll crumble

 

washed by the river,

polished by the rain,

burnished in the golden glow

 

I walk with long shadow legs

into the twilight,

as the geese honk farewell.

 

Scientists say

Betelgeuse may soon explode–

but I look up at the moon, waxing,

 

it will be here long after I’m gone,

but now, it lights my way

home to you.

 

This poem is for my dVerse prompt, Impermanence. So, I didn’t come up with anything particularly unique because I was inspired by this photo I took yesterday while walking by the river. Come join us with your thoughts.

 

 

 

At Dawn, I Heard the Mockingbird Sing

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At dawn, I heard the mockingbird sing

his songs and those of his brothers,

I watched the flash of white on wing

as he flew away from others.

 

His songs (and those of his brothers)

combined and sounded from another tree–

as he flew away from others,

one song became more than two or three.

 

Combined and sounded from another tree,

notes trilled and warbled now under the moon,

one song became more than two or three

and in my dreams, I heard his tune,

 

these notes trilled and warbled now under the moon.

I watched the flash of white on wing

in my dreams. But still I heard his tune

at dawn. Still, I heard the mockingbird sing.

 

I haven’t written a pantoum in a while, so I just decided to write one. It seemed like a good way to procrastinate. 😉  This is for Open Link Night tonight at dVerse, where Grace is hosting.

 

 

 

Wandering

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In this sanctuary here

I wander, take quiet breaths

as squirrels rustle

in harmony with wind and water,

and if I feel the storm coming—

 

~there’s a soft shine in the distance~

 

as we stroll, night lights

in a world of when, its own poetry

where spirits watch over us

in the cold night

and if they feel the storm coming—

 

still, there the light shines soft in the distance.

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I collaborated with the Oracle for this variation on a Puente. (Yes, that’s what I’m going to call it.)  I was thinking of taking a walk in the park this moring, but the rain is pounding on my windows right now.

 

 

 

Listening, Watching, Hoping

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The world is sad and broken,

clouds of smoke rising

 

and the voices of trees lost.

(Say not forever.)

 

Still I listen for the secret rhythm

of stars and moon

 

and watch the sun rise

brilliant fire in the sky

 

lighting our days,

reminding us of if and when

 

the universe is born and dies,

again and again–

 

and yet, the flowers bloom in spring

(until they don’t)

 

and their perfume rises

in morning’s smile.

 

My collaboration with the magnetic poetry Oracle. She always seems to know what is and what might be.

 

 

Hidden

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Look up!  Vultures just hanging out. Hidden in plain sight.  National Park, NJ.

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“. . .for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

― George Eliot, Middlemarch

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the stars”

–Walt Whitman, #31 from “Song of Myself”

 

“It may diminish some our dry delight

To wonder if everything we are and do

Lies subject to some little law like that;

Hidden in nature, but not deeply so.”

–from Howard Nemerov, “Figures of Thought”

 

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The sun is hidden behind the clouds,

the images waver through a wet wall,

and the world is dark, dreary, until the charcoal clouds part

through the droplets, a ray of bright hope–

colors arc across the sky,

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and in that magic moment

my spirits lift, not forever, but enough

there, hidden behind the gloom

there is beauty, beneath the sleepy despondency,

there is hope, joy, love.

 

We walk through Old City streets,

bones beneath our feet, hidden

ghosts walk with dry leaf rustle.

We see their reflections

in the end of the year.

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Curtis Center Building, Philadelphia, December 31, 2019.

The year turns, a page reflected

(we reflect)

in the late afternoon sun-glow

as couples take their vows,

beginning a new life

 

We see a movie,

a hidden life,

but reflect upon so many hidden lives

at that time, in this time–

time flows faster

 

towards what?

We travel east,

the sun setting behind us

announcing the year is ending,

a new year about to begin.

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From a Patco train, crossing the Delaware River from Philadelphia to New Jersey. December 31, 2019.

We eat Chinese food,

watch a musical of hidden lives

danced into acceptance

in boots—

kinky boots. Well, why not?

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Why not? And why–

do leaders deny and lie?

foment hate?

The world burns

hidden beneath smoke and rage

 

are flower bulbs,

seeds of hope.

If we destroy the world

perhaps something better will come,

rising over our hidden bones

 

buried, like secrets

of family and history

in tombs sealed and forgotten

someday to be uncovered

to live again

 

perhaps in legend or song.

I find a recording of Yiddish songs

hidden in plain sight in my mother’s bookcase.

She is calmed by old, familiar melodies

as we sort and pack her belongings,

 

much of her past now hidden (treasures)

buried in time, tossed aside in many moves

“I’m reduced to one room,” she says

almost in tears,

saltwater, like the sea

 

from which we sprang,

the work of the stars,

their light and songs carrying us on

Starlight, starbright,

I wish tonight.

 

Hope buried, sometimes found, like that piece of bread that drops into the fondue pot.

Merril’s Movie Club—So many movies; so little time! We saw A Hidden Life, Terrence Malick’s latest. It was beautiful, like all of his movies—and well, you have to accept and go along with the meandering pace. It is based on a true story, and while I admire someone who sticks up for his convictions– and it is difficult not to see present-day parallels—I also was not certain what his objections actually were. At one point, he says he doesn’t know if Hitler is evil. Um, what? And though he suffers for not signing a paper giving allegiance to Hitler, the war does not really seem to touch the beautiful village in the clouds. I liked how the movie showed all the hard work the women do on their farm, but everyone seems well-fed while the war is going on. Yes, this man stood up for his undefined objections, but places were being bombed, people were sent to concentration camps, and other horrors were going on.

Last night we watched I Lost My Body.It’s a French animated film about a severed hand looking for its body. I know that sounds weird and creepy, but it’s surprisingly moving, as we learn about the young man’s life. I never thought I’d be rooting for a hand.

On New Year’s Eve, we watched a Broadway production of the musical Kinky Boots that I had recorded when PBS’s Great Performances ran a few weeks of Broadway shows in November. It’s great fun, and it was perfect for New Year’s Eve. (If you’re a Passport member you can see it.)

We’re almost finished with a Turkish show on Netflix called, The Gift. We’ve enjoyed it—an artist who draws strange symbols teams up with an archeologist to uncover family secrets and legends from the past.

And finally–a shout out to my cousin, David Lesser! His story, Bodies at Rest, was made into a Chinese movie. I don’t know how it will be distributed, but it’s an action movie, set in a morgue in Hong Kong, and it opened an Asian film festival. Trailer here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And You, Too, Have Come to This Still Point

November at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ

Monday Morning Musings:

“Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.”

–fromMary Oliver “When I Am Among the Trees”

“After the kingfisher’s wing

Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still

At the still point of the turning world.”

T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton”  Four Quartets

 

I walk among the trees

watch the light golden-streaming,

and feel the wind river-breezing

listen to the crows caw and go

then all is still, in the glow,

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Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ.–November

 

though now it’s blanket season

when the wind blows, teasing

the clouds that alternate grey and bright

while I seek some warmth, some light

and find delight in sunrise pink rising high

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I look to the sky

the flocking of birds in flight.

We gather with family

hope there’s no drama

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or not too much.

Some come from lunch

to share our dinner

and so, we talk and laugh,

and most definitely eat (repeat)

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(not forgetting the sweets)

till it is time for them to go–

and you think you know

how life will be

but suddenly, you see

 

all the moments—

the traditional breaking of stuffing bread

under Capt. Janeway’s gaze, her cool head

once again guiding her crew

–and for them so much to do–

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and you, too, so much done,

all the times before—

and after–the squirrels, the sisters and daughters,

the laughter and traditions, the people come and gone—

babies grown, moving on

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we watch a movie of love and longing

of trying to find a better life, men migrating

women left behind, waiting

for escape, for weddings, for revenge—

gritty life and magic realism, avenging

 

ghosts among us

life not ending, but flowing like the sea—

what happens when we cease to be,

does love carry on through time and space?

Is there a still point, full of grace

 

and light, golden

like the emblazoned leaves

shining. . .

beauty to remember when it snows

to recall it will return

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even as the darkness grows

and the world turns, day to night

and all is still–

but beyond the clouds—

stars and moon still burn bright.

 

We celebrated Thanksgiving. Some of my sibling saw my mom that day, and we saw her the next day.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Atlantics on Netflix. This film from Senegal won the Grand Prix at Cannes. It moves from social realism of life in Dakar—forced marriages, laborers who don’t get paid, migration—to a sort of magic realism based on folk tales. I imagine it was a beautiful movie to see on a large screen.We both liked it very much.