Rise and Fall

Monday Morning Musings:

 

Through thousands of timeless changes

she’s slept, awakened, and wondered when, why–

and if—whispering wisdom in the pink petals of dawn—

in the shining silver strands of moonlight–

as the tides rise and fall

and waves tumble, wearing down rocks

and towns crumble,

she sighs at the shadows,

sings a song of healing, knowing

it may not be enough.

***

 

These are things that fall—

snowflakes

raindrops,

cherry blossoms,

my mother, over and over

 

again, the text or call,

she’s bruised, confused

about what happened

yet nearly blind,

she sometimes sees

 

these things that rise—

the volume of a laugh,

the sun and moon

spring flowers

spirits

 

at the sound of bird songs

drifting from dawn-lit trees

in the lengthening days

that sing of hope

and the renewal of life–

 

there the crocuses bloom

glowing in radiant amethyst

now jonquils tinkle their tiny bells

and soon sunny daffodils smile

and say hello, always friendly

robins frolic

as the worm moon lingers,

and the mockingbird sings

an aria of love and longing

from a budding tree branch.

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From the buds

come leaves or flowers

and fruit–

and so, an impromptu late lunch

we drink the fermented fruit

 

when other plans fell through

but the sun is shining

and so, we sip and reflect

and take this time

to laugh and talk

 

and then another evening, we walk

in the city awake in the almost-spring

despite the looming threats

it’s a Saturday night

we listen to the comedian

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and we laugh,

even while she talks of hand-washing

she is funny,

and we needed this

we all need this–

 

my mother sees my dead father,

sometimes they talk

she asks me to see if he’s in the lounge

I don’t see him, I say

maybe he will be here later.

 

The comedian says there is no rainbow bridge,

her dead pets are buried in the ground, gone

but remembered,

perhaps we carry these ghosts within us

do we hear them whisper? I don’t know.

 

These are things that rise and fall and rise again

a baby,

eyelids,

civilizations,

hope–

 

blooming

again and again.

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The only tree on the block in bloom, Walnut Street, Philadelphia.

 

No movies this week, but Paula Poundstone was very funny, and it was a fun night out, and our little date lunch was a wonderful little mid-week break.

More on Heroes and Hearts

Swirls Over Spruce

Spruce Street, Old City

Monday Morning Musings:

“She preferred imaginary heroes to real ones, because when tired of them, the former could be shut up in the tin kitchen till called for, and the latter were less manageable.”

–Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

“i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”

–e.e.cummings “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]”

 

 

Ancient voices carried on a breeze

float beneath the moon

in leaf-rustle, they speak

in each footfall, they keep time

and secrets

 

that whirl in dusty motes

gathering in silvery specks,

specters of the past

the echo of their heartbeats

caught in a laugh, a scent, a cry.

 

***

Harriet was a true hero,

but she was a woman, too,

who loved and laughed and cried

and if the playwright has her move through time

is that so odd

 

because we still hear her voice,

don’t we?

She walked down this street or that one, perhaps

here the enslaved reached freedom,

here refugees still hide

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Second Street, Old City Philadelphia (From the Arden Theater) Merril D. Smith 2020

their hearts full

or broken.

I learn my friend’s heart literally broke

the day before Valentine’s Day–

but it is patched, stents installed

 

to let his blood flow.

Another friend has an artificial heart,

but like the Tin Man

she doesn’t need a heart

to love or be loved.

 

I read that the Giant Heart in the Franklin Institute

has been refurbished–

it now has the soundtrack of a real heart

with beats that echo

through time and space

 

like Harriet in the play,

like the memory of my grandfather

popping up from the giant heart’s artificial valves

to show me and my little sister

that it was a safe space

 

a place I carry

a memory of a heart

carried in my heart

his heart and that heart

in my heart, they echo

 

as do the voices of women

leading “lives of quiet desperation”

that the assistant sees in the movie

and what can she do

till enough people speak and the system changes

 

as whistles are blown

and heroes speak the truth

even as rich and petty men besmirch them

retaliating with the power of wealth and position–

tin men without the shadow of a heart.

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But still,

I bake chocolate hearts

for all the hearts I carry inside

and we celebrate love

and heroes–

 

because both

transcend time and space.

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We saw My General Tubman, a new play by Lorene Cary at the Arden Theatre.

We went to the Wine and Chocolate event at William Heritage Winery.

Merril’s Movie Club: we saw The Assistant, a bleak but excellent movie with an outstanding performance by Julia Garner.

We also finished Counterpart. We really enjoyed the two seasons. It’s on Prime, and apparently Starz cancelled it because they didn’t feel it appealed to female viewers (!).  You know how women don’t enjoy well-developed plots and complex storylines (rolling eyes).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Drive the Dark Away

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Monday Morning Musings:

“Stars, in your multitudes

Scarce to be counted

Filling the darkness with order and light. . .”

–“Stars” from Les Misérables

“So the shortest day came, and the year died,

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,

To drive the dark away.”

Susan Cooper, “The Shortest Day”

“Even if all life on our planet is destroyed, there must be other life somewhere which we know nothing of. It is impossible that ours is the only world; there must be world after world unseen by us, in some region or dimension that we simply do not perceive.”

–Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle

 

The shortest day approaches,

we celebrate with tales and light

in centuries-old traditions,

we gather, talk, and drink

to drive the dark away

to drive the dark away

we count the stars

on the shortest day,

they fill the sky

with order and light.

 

With order and light

soon we’ll celebrate

eight nights of Hanukkah

to drive the dark away,

remembering

 

remembering, my mother says

girls were not sent to school,

but her mom knew where everything was

in their store, she could find the peas

the cans had pictures

 

the cans had pictures

and she knew the prices

she could add the figures quickly–

order in this world

like stars in the sky

 

like stars in the sky

we make patterns in our brains

memories form

and we fill in the gaps

stories of might and if

 

stories of might and if–

is the movie a cautionary tale?

What happens when we mess with nature?

Or is it tale of mothers and children,

variations on madness and guilt?

 

Variation on madness and guilt,

describe a host of myth and legends

along with greed, anger, and lust,

in animating stars, clouds, and trees

we try to make order of our world.

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We try to make order of our world

in patterns and statues and stories.

In art and poetry and song, we transform

and celebrate the light within

and without

and without this ability

what would we be?

Worlds unseen, other dimensions

beyond the stars, but here now,

we drive the darkness way

 

we drive the darkness away

with love and light and food

with sisters and sister-friends

with children and mothers and kin

we let the light in.

It’s been a busy, crazy week, and I apologize for being so behind in visiting and reading other blogs. I’m finishing reviewing my copyedited book manuscript. There have been many calls and text with my sisters about my mom’s care. We had to suddenly go to my mom’s when an aide called out sick. While there, we discovered that PBS was showing the 25th anniversary concert version of Les Misérables, which my mom and I both enjoyed. We did a “Nightmare Before Christmas” tour for my early birthday celebration with younger daughter—it turned out to be a fun evening of talking and drinking. We visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Christmas Village.

Merril’s Movie Club: We saw Little Joe. It’s a quirky film about a woman who develops a new plant that she names for her son Joe. But perhaps there are unintended consequences. It’s filmed in bright colors and with a percussive soundtrack. Emily Beecham won best actress at the Cannes Film Festival. We liked it, but I may not sniff a flower for a while.

We’re on the penultimate episode of The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime. It’s so good—and kind of frightening to think of what could be, what might have been, and where we’re headed with the present administration.

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From “Designs for Different Futures” Philadelphia Museum of Art

And a more peaceful image to leave you with

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Winter trees form a bower outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art–Merril D. Smith, December 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovely Bright, The Sight

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Monday Morning Musings:

“How clear, how lovely bright,

How beautiful to sight

Those beams of morning play. . .

 

Ensanquining the skies

How heavily it dies. . .

How hopeless under ground

Falls the remorseful day.”

–from A.E. Houseman, “How Clear, How Lovely Bright”

 

 

The line, the flow

the glow

of life, scattering

 

leaves, the gathering of nuts and seeds

(the sky bleeds)

reflecting the spattering

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of wounds, the broken glass

before the gas

and rustlings

 

of war and wind

the leaves are thinned,

but hear them crunch and crackle

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as squirrels scamper and play

in the fading light of autumn day

and the birds fly—geese and grackle—

and hawks and vultures soar

before the train comes, roars

down the tracks

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taking me somewhere—

up and down, stairs

we go, into the wind,

 

the boat sails

and what tales

might it have, of rivers or sea?

Delaware River from Patco train heading to Philadelphia

Delaware River from Patco train heading to Philadelphia

And is there a lighthouse, with ghostly

glowing and horn blowing, or mostly

sunny skies?

 

Time must sail, too

and we a sometime crew

walk through history

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18th Century garden on site of Benjamin Rush’s House, Philadelphia

how can it be otherwise,

the lows and highs

of our own lives, the mystery

 

of others–we see a groom and bride

and I hope they lovingly glide

into a life of love and joy

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A wedding party taking photos at “my willow” at Dock Creek, Old City, Philadelphia

(Pause, we drink coffee and wine

stop for a time—

but time is coy)

and autumn comes cold and dark

but there is beauty, even if it’s stark—

see the moon rise over fields stripped of grain

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Moonrise over a South Jersey field, November.

glowing, humming—this autumn sky

and the clouds and time

the time before the rain, snow, the train

 

of time. The movie train that circles

through the frozen world, almost eternal

but the cost

 

a cautionary tale

of where we might sail

and is our world already lost?

 

Crow calls

the remorseful day falls

setting underground

 

in fiery ball, unheeding

the world goes on, speeding

and we spellbound.

 

But I don’t celebrate bleeding—

or ferocious gods, the leaders leading

into destruction–

 

let poetry fly

through vast haunted eternity, die

the war-fever. Find a new function

 

for our minds and hearts

in words of love, kindness, and arts

that soar with feathered wings–

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how clear, how lovely bright

the sight

of what could be, of hope that sings

 

as the walls tumble down.

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This was a week of elections, cat dental surgery, the anniversary of Kristallnaught (November 9, 1938), and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. In the U.S. today is Veteran’s Day. It was formerly Armistice Day, but of course, war has not ended. I respect all who have served and honor all those who have given their lives in serving their country. While someone like Hitler had to be stopped, it would be better if people did not let such people gain power.

 

For Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Snowpiercer, a 2014 movie we had never seen, but since we recently saw Parasite, and it is an earlier movie by the same director, Bong Joon-ho, we decided to watch it. It’s on Netflix. This one’s in English, and it’s much more of an action movie than I would normally see. Like Parasite, the movie covers the issues of class and climate,and there was definitely much to think about. Overall, we both liked it. There is also fighting and bloody scenes though, so be forewarned. We saw Lighthouse in the theater. It’s also in English. I know, strange, right?  (Don’t worry, we’re still watching Black Spot, so reading subtitles there.).  Great acting, beautiful black and white cinematography. Very strange, surrealistic movie of two lighthouse keepers on an isolated island. Some of the dialogue is taken from Melville and lighthouse keepers’ diaries. It’s somewhat similar in style to his previous movie, The Witch.

 

 

 

The Scent of the Past

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Monday Morning Musings:

“We sit down

in the smell of the past

and rise in a light

that is already leaving.”

From Rita Dove, “November for Beginners”

“Wars, plagues, names upon tombs tell us only what happened. But history lies in the cracks between.”

― Sarah Blake, The Guest Book

 

The wind roars, a dragon

blowing in the season

 

overnight the temperature drops

and there’s a reason

 

I’m baking and cooking

easing in

this time of melancholy and light.

 

The leaves glow golden

in the slanted light of dimming days

 

 

and color pops, unrestrained,

blazing, in the rays

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of setting sun.

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Here come ghosts

and memories, the dead

Day of the Dead at Love Park

William Penn looking down at the Day of the Dead display at Love Park, Philadelphia

 

remembered in joy and sorrow

decorations, graves, a thread

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of history, the moments in-between

the things we love, the times we dread

 

the smell of the past,

 

comes back to haunt us–

my mother says, do you smell that

 

when nothing is in the air

and goes on to chat—

 

(I open window and door)

we discuss dogs, a cat

 

and this is where we’re at,

 

now, daughter and I make candles

smelling scents for future burning

but is it also, perhaps,

for a past we’re yearning

 

in scents of autumn and Christmas

as the season is turning

 

we talk and sip our wine.

 

 

Swirl, sniff, taste,

discuss ghosts and dreams,

 

the feelings of houses

our moods, of what seems

 

to be real or not—

(I watch how the light streams

 

then dims.)

Vintage Wine Bar, Philadelphia

Vintage Wine Bar, Philadelphia

The clocks turned back,

but we’re the ones that change,

 

not time. It moves on,

there’s no real exchange

 

hours lost or gained,

yet memories remain, sometimes disarranged

 

but triggered by this or that, perhaps a scent.

 

I dream of cooking beans,

the refrain, they need long simmering

 

add some water the dream people say

and in my mind some glimmering–

 

this is my life and words

with long slow cooking, simmering

 

and sometimes shimmering

 

through the cracks

the scents of cinnamon and spice, autumn

 

the leaves glow and fall

the ghosts often forgotten

 

wander, here and there

as the light dims

 

but returns—in time.

 

Merril’s Movie Club–we watched It on Halloween, as the wind began to howl. We saw Pain and Glory, Almodovar’s latest. Husband and I both liked it–(but liked Parasite more)–you probably know if you like this kind of thing, Banderas as Almodovar remembering his life, perhaps more pain than glory at times. Trailer here.  We also started watching a French series on Netflix, Black Spot (definitely not translated from the French title Zone Blanche) about strange goings on in a French town. We like to keep our viewing international.  😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here and There and Here

Willow at Dock Creek, October 2019

Monday Morning Musings:

“All I know

Is you are there

You are there

And I am here.

–Irene Sankoff and David Heine, “I am Here,” from Come From Away

 

“Suddenly there’s nothing in between me and the sky”

Irene Sankoff and David Heine, “Me and the Sky,” from Come From Away

 

“Think of it as a ghost play; the actor’s older bodies are haunting these thirteen-year-old characters.”

Clare Barron on her play, Dance Nation

 

“Are you here?” my mother asks

as I, involved in some ordinary task

stand just beyond her sight.

 

The boundaries between mist and light

time and dreams, seems porous, slight

and she drifts, and we drift again and again

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Reflections in a rain puddle, Philadelphia

sunshine, then rain

“Here,” says the woman in the book

“Here,” I say, “Look.”

 

The twilight and dawn

the days that falter, end with a song

look at them fly

nothing between them and the sky

and we drink wine, talk of movies and why

they did this or that—it’s a metaphor

I say, and we laugh, remember more

to discuss, remember the time when it was just us

or when we were thirteen–

 

remember how life seemed?

All emotions, and the dreams?

Emotions now more settled, but more stress—

I digress.

Time right now to sit in gardens bright

to catch autumn’s glowing light

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rain and sunshine, tears, delight

I was there once, now I’m here in sight–

of what? I’m not certain, but you are here

together we’re here,

and there’s magic in theater–and deer

and nature, magic in each day’s dawning

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watching the sun rise, yawning

as it sets, and the cats that sleep, never fawning

honest with their desire

for food and love, we’re the suppliers

but we get it back, their love doesn’t expire

no ghosts in their bodies, at least that I see

 

they can just be–

and sometimes so can we—

here together,

 

I am here,

you are here,

nothing between us and sky–

in my dreams, we fly.

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We actually saw two shows this week: Come From Away and Dance Nation. Come from Away is heartwarming without being cloying. It’s about people doing good. It’s about the town in Newfoundland that takes in flights following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. It’s poignant, but also very funny at times. The staging is wonderful, and we saw it in the beautiful Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Dance Nation is about a competitive dance team of middle school kids, but it’s also a memory play, as we see glimpses of the girls (and one boy’s) older selves. All the actors are adults. It’s laugh out loud funny at times, but it also makes you want to cheer. There’s a wonderful speech on female empowerment.

And for Merril’s Movie Club members—we finally got to the movies and saw Parasite. Yes, of course it has subtitles. It’s Korean. It’s about class and metaphors, and it’s excellent, but you know, it’s a Merril movie. 😉 Here’s the trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Questions

Monday Morning Musings:

“Autumn poses the question we all have to live with: How to hold on to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying. How to see the world as it is, yet find light within that truth.”

–Pico Iyler, Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells, quoted in Brainpickings

 

 

In the transitional spaces

of this liminal season,

sun and moon both hold their places

easing in

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Morning moon over the river.

the days of swoops and shifts

where sunshine fires gold and red

and nature bewitches with magic gifts–

deer and birds, the leaves unshed

to glow in sunshine, that perfect light

too soon hidden behind the grey

of clouds, and we trudge but fight

the winter’s-coming-wind. “Stay!”

we say to sunshine and golden glow

as we struggle through “the wind tunnel of death”

in rush hour city streets, go with the flow,

see, not so bad, we catch our breath

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and onward go, sunshine, then rain

and I work, cook, bake, turn on the heat

to be certain it works, for frigid air comes again

and soon winter winds will roar, and we’ll retreat

not wanting to venture out so long or often

but yet we’ll have to carry on, do what we must

and with blankets, soup, and candles, soften

the cold (and in the dimness hide the dust).

 

But for now, we walk and celebrate

the accomplishments, good weather, and walk

through parks, a restaurant, a concert—a date

I suppose, we listen to the other couples talk

Park in Collingswood, NJ, Merril D. Smith, 2019

at other tables and speculate

about their lives. Then we move on—

the concert late into the night, but great

and soon comes another dawn

and more rain. A grey afternoon

my mom nods off to the TV

I make her laugh as I dance to a tune–

Que sera, what will be, will be,

 

not what we hear, but inevitably

transition lead to something new

leaves fall, rivers flow to the sea,

winter grey and white follows from autumn blue,

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but now we watch a French demon on our screen

drink wine and gasp at horror in a world not real

enjoy the make-believe land of the unseen

even as we long for something ideal, feel

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unmoored in this world, waiting for disaster

but finding moments of joy to savor

wanting some to slow, some to move faster—

what is the flavor

 

the scent, of time passing and flowing?

Cinnamon, nutmeg, lilacs, and rain

petrichor rising, snow falling, and fires blowing

smoke into the air—all these over and over again–

as cats play hide and seek,

and children now grown send love in photos,

and each week brings something good or bleak—

and so it goes.

 

In the liminal spaces

of this liminal season,

the moon hums, traces

her course, she has a reason

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even if we don’t know why,

(what questions to ask, the answers unknown)

but hush,  hear that sigh?

Listen closely, the moon’s lullaby.

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It’s been a crazy week with emotions blowing like the crazy winds. One deadline met, another still to go. We went to a concert at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, David Bromberg and Los Lobos. My husband joked that you had to be over 50 to get in–but wow–those musicians can play! We walked from the theater to Indiya restaurant and then back. We’re watching a horror show on Netflix called Marianne. One episode to go. It definitely made me jump a few times. It’s in French. Sorry, movie club fans, that’s the best I can do right now. I hope to get to the movies soon.

 

The Always, the Never, the Joy, the Light

IMG_4478Monday Morning Musings:

“For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.”

― James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues”

 

After the dark cloud dances,

a pulsing star kisses the universe—

I open the window,

letting in magic

 

~and all the ifs~

 

awaken,

breathing time, remembering ghosts–

our lives, the brilliant poetry

of always and never

***

We walk through city streets,

a thought comes, retreats

 

a fragment, not yet complete

lost in a beat

 

as I look up to see

the world around me–

 

in the windows the clouds

reflected, ignored by crowds

who pass them by,

ignore the perfect azure of the sky

 

broken with streaks of white

wind-blown, in flight

 

across the blue.

And it’s true,

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I think, that beauty is found

in county and town

 

all around us if we look for it.

rove and gaze a bit.

 

And so, time passes—

half-empty or half-filled your glasses?

 

A frantic rush to meet

deadlines, yet greet

 

each day with some joy,

though fate is coy,

 

and accidents will happen

so, we go rushing in when

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it does, to wait and stand by

her eyelid damaged, not her eye,

 

though her story makes no sense,

the consequence

 

of confusion,

of what was, delusion

 

over what she can do–

most likely I’ll be like that, too.

 

We arrive home late at night

to hear an owl, out of sight

 

he whoo whoo whoos,

and if I could choose

 

some magic, that seems right,

perfect, transfused into the night,

 

a bridge of spirits, night to day

with sorrow held at bay

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Heading over the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia just before dawn.

we sway with friends

beginnings and ends

 

the power of love, beauty, light

joy and delight

Wedding at Philadelphia Horticultural Center

Wedding at Philadelphia Horticultural Center, Fairmount Park

to share such moments again

and again, to dance, feel romance

 

in the night around us,

and laugh as we discuss

 

how that speech went way too long–

isn’t it time for another song?

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So, we eat, drink, dance some more,

and yes, my feet are a little sore—

 

but look at that moon, that sky!

she hums so fiercely, why

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don’t we hear or see

enough of the beauty,

 

the light? Our tales are not new,

but they are yet so true

 

and so, told again and again,

every beginning to every end

 

circling round, like our moon

singing an ancient, eternal tune

 

poetry of stars, the always, the never

going on through time. . .forever.

 

Some of you know, I’m finishing a book on sexual harassment. It has to be completed this week, and I’m scrambling. So I apologize for being behind on reading everyone’s posts. Added to this, my mom had an accident Friday evening, and my husband and I were in the ER with her till very late at night. When we got home, there was an owl hooting from some tree in our yard. I’d never heard this before, so I’m convinced it’s one of Jane Dougherty’s owls. Or perhaps the Oracle sent it as a sign of. . .something.  (Great horned owl song here.) We went back to the ER early the next morning, where an eye surgeon glued my mom’s damaged lower eyelid back into place. We’re hoping it will hold, and that she will not need surgery. Saturday night we went to a wedding, the groom is the son of friends, and we got to be with a bunch of our very dear friends for the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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–

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and the honk of geese

in victory flight

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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

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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.

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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—

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember

Monday Morning Musings:

“It is the onion, memory,

that makes me cry.”

From Craig Raine, “The Onion”

 

“Music, when soft voices die,

Vibrates in the memory—”

–Percy Bysshe Shelley, from “Music When Soft Voices Die (To. ..)

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the universe born

from a fire dance

with a bang, barging forth,

endless now, eternal,

remembering the almost

and the always

rounding in long, liquid circles

creating time,

but timeless,

yet there it is–

the secret poetry,

of the dawning day,

hints of light in the darkness.

***

Leaves turn scarlet and gold

against the azure blue, so bold

 

 

but as the air turns crisp and cold

and the leaves fall, uncontrolled

 

we remember

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the bright green of trees and grass,

the calls of birds, the way they dance

 

into the slanted light of autumn

 

remember

 

the scent of stew and bread

and the blankets piled upon the bed—

and yet, still I see

the bee

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moving from flower to flower

knowing his hours

 

are limited

but uninhibited

 

he flies

and tries–

 

does he remember?

 

(What are the dreams of a bee?)

 

I see the spotted lantern fly,

remember to crush it, say good-bye

 

dead bug, though I feel some remorse

he’s only doing his job, of course–

 

but once, did he remember the air

and sunlight, feel despair?

 

The man in the movie forgets the facts

of his life, he acts

 

on some written instructions,

and we make assumptions

 

connect the dots,

but sometimes, blank spots

 

are filled in with what wasn’t there–

my mom fills these holes in the air

 

with dreams, believes

things that never happened, perceives

 

a different time-line, a reality

of what never was and never will be

 

and so, it goes, we see,

 

and will we remember this

autumn coming, in starts and fits

 

but summer stays, and we sit outside

hide (a bit)

 

from truth, well, who’s to decide

what is right, and what we abide?

 

We smile, drink wine

enjoy the sun, and life is fine

mostly, though we remember

 

autumn comes, and pages turn,

emotions churn, we yearn

 

for things that never were, perhaps

or for our world not to collapse,

City Hall Reflected in a puddle, Merril D. Smith, Philadelphia 2019

City Hall Reflected in a Puddle, Philadelphia

we walk

reflect on the past, talk

of life and a book

and we look

 

observe, that time moves on

and circles back

 

and light comes, sometimes at a slant

or through the cracks,

 

I remember that.

 

We haven’t had a chance to get to the movies (sigh, maybe when this book is done)– but Dale, we did see a good one on Netflix. Remember. Trailer here.  It’s from 2015, but I don’t remember it in the theaters. It’s much better than the synopsis sounds: a man with dementia follows the written instructions of a fellow nursing home resident to hunt down the man who killed their families at Auschwitz. Well, the director is Atom Egoyan, and it stars Christopher Plummer. Certainly not upbeat, but very well-done, a quiet sort of thriller.