Flowers and Bombs, NaPoWriMo

IMG_2249

Monday Morning Musings:

“Forever—is composed of Nows—”

–Emily Dickinson,  Full Poem here. 

“N. A. Sumanapala, a shopkeeper near St. Anthony’s Shrine who said he had run inside to help, said: “It was a river of blood. Ash was falling like snow.” New York Times, April 21, 2019.

A week of explosions

flowers, storms, shots, and lies

bombs belie the façade

of Easter calm and Passover why

(is this night different from all other nights?)

 

Rivers of blood

with no miracle to part

falling of ash

unresurrected, fighting stops, starts–

A plague upon both your houses

IMG_2257

 

Of indecision and more lies

as the First Citizen cries

in confusion,

“No collusion!”

 

His followers cheer

not caring, or unclear

that he would destroy

all that they hold dear,

so they support and worship

their false idol. Rejoice

in the new normal, hate

the latest whipping boy.

 

I cook, wrapping myself

in almonds, dates, and honey.

The house is sunny,

scented with cinnamon

like the cat, who slumbers sun-sided

5CCCF579-C8EF-4A80-8FEF-44632BA7F76F

Passover Almond Cake

The pink moon rises

we drink the first glass of wine, recline.

We are free, but refugees detained

chained, their children abused–

and we all lose–

Let all who are hungry come

 

We watch movies of

women hiding secrets

sometimes in plain sight

in poetry and stories,

sometimes driving in the night

to obligations, demands

and longing

for uncharted territories.

 

Certain women

holding together

waiting, still in a man’s world.

often unrecognized–

we place

an orange on the Seder plate,

to recognize, no longer erased.

 

We talk,

walk through city streets,

footsteps, heartbeats,

statues and stories,

petrichor replaced

with the scent of blooms

filling the air with their perfume, a trace

lingers in my mind.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A week of explosions

flowers, storms, shots, and lies—

all the endless ifs and whys–

and yet, my heart thrills

at the sight of the spring tide

with waves of flowers,

creating bowers

while the robin’s trills—

and we remember

forever is composed of nows.

2FB74B18-B245-40A5-9851-74E0B63A6953

Red Bank Battlefield Park, April 2019

 

Day 22, NaPoWriMo  challenges us “to write a poem that engages with another art form.” My Monday musings always engage with the world around me through photos, and often movies or shows we’ve seen–so to an extent–I’ve met the challenge.

We watched the movie Certain Women on Netflix. We watched Becoming Astrid (about Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, the author of Pippi Longstocking and other books) on Amazon Prime, once I figured out how to turn on the subtitles. We saw the new movie, Wild Nights with Emily about Emily Dickinson in the theater. I liked all three movies.

 

 

 

 

Sun and Storms, NaPoWriMo

IMG_2207

Monday Morning Musings:

“Presentiment – is that long Shadow – on the Lawn –
Indicative that Suns go down –

The Notice to the startled Grass

That Darkness – is about to pass –“

–Emily Dickinson A brief analysis here.

“Oh, how this spring of love resembleth, The uncertain glory of an April day,

Which now shows all beauty of the Sun, And by and by a cloud takes all away”

–William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act I Scene 3

 

Startled? Yes, I’ll say.

Startled awake as the cell phone plays

keening beeps, an alert. I’m dazed

read, “Tornado Warning, Take Shelter.”

 

Did you see them?

The words on the screen?

Not a drill, no they mean

hurry now, no time to grab all the things,

no time for caffeine, keys, or rings

 

I’m roused,

my body tired, but fired

 

I wake my husband, carry phone and one cat

down to the basement, there we sat

on a blanket by the stairs,

litter boxes nearby, but no chairs,

with bare feet, in PJs and tank shirt

waiting, (while the cats pee) but unhurt

 

by the storm. The radio announcer says,

this system’s killed people, he acknowledges

in the south, and I’m glad I heard this after

the all-clear, or my fear would have been greater.

 

(Were my clogged ears, a presentiment

of pressure dropping,

hmmm. . .are they’re popping?)

 

I think the rain is stopping

(at least for now).

and the birds are singing sweet and strong

glorious in their morning songs

telling the world that they are here,

announcing for now that all is clear.

 

***

DBDE1D21-1F91-4897-9800-D827FC99668E

Looking out after the early morning storm

I think of this past week in April

uncertain glory, each day

it seems, from bright to grey

shadows, sun, storms, each give way.

We went with friends into the city

We go on the train

(the forecast rain)

But when we arrived, the sky was bright

and the sun shone with April light

on flowers pink, white, yellow–

and mellow the temperature and breeze

softly stirring trees.

 

We sat outside, drank wine, ate cheese

feeling fine, and at ease,

wanting to hold this moment—please—

but we went

as the sky changed then–

and April rain fell again.

 

In more shadows and light,

we played with puppies, such a sight,

doggy kisses and wrestling moves

hard to resist, and it just proves

the bonds between animals,

the bonds between us and them

Once again

we’re home

more sun, more clouds,

watching movies of zombies and spies,

surprises and lies,

in both we see people pretending to be some other

and we see others seeing what they want to see.

 

And I see presentiment—the long shadow–

but hope the clouds will pass,

we’ll come to our senses

before we suffer the consequences—

But for now, coffee, cats,

and later wine,

to sleep later,

perchance to dream—

of a beginning, not an end,

of love and caring and sharing

hope of this world—to mend.

IMG_2219

 

Today’s prompt, Day 15, is “to write your own dramatic monologue.”  I’m not sure that I’ve done that, but my Monday Musings are always sort of an internal monologue. . . The best I can do, since I’ve been awake since the tornado alert went off around 3:20 this morning.

Sorry, we haven’t been out to the movies in a few weeks, but we did watch two movies on Netflix. The Angel, trailer here, an Israeli-American film based on a true story of a spy. It was an interesting story,good, but not great.  And we saw Cargo, (trailer here)  an Australian zombie film–but wait, it’s not all that gory. It has a message about family, community, cross-cultural awareness, taking care of the earth, AND it has Martin Freeman.  Again, not the greatest movie ever, but enjoyable, and I liked it.

I also read a spy book, American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. Excellent. Here’s a review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Show: NaPoWriMo

Spring, University of Pennsylvania

Monday Morning Musings:

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul, of the body. And it’s partly the language that we don’t want to show.”

–“Martha Graham Reflects on Her Art and a Life in Dance” (31 March 1985); republished in The New York Times Guide to the Arts of the 20th Century (2002), p. 2734.

“A study in scarlet, eh? Why shouldn’t we use a little art jargon? There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”

–Arthur Conan Doyles, “A Study in Scarlet”

 

 

From a garden

nature sings

dressed for spring

she puts on a show.

Can we,

do we

should we know

the answers?

They blow to the sky

in pastel petals—

Why?

***

We board the train

(no more rain)

So, notice the patterns

of shadows and light

the people shedding jackets,

the delight

of sunlight on the skin,

the day begins.

 

We walk—

a limited edition

cityscape

in an oeuvre that is vast

at last

feeling spring is here.

IMG_2065

Oh, look at the river view,

and how the artist expresses

something both old and new

Schuylkill River from Walnut Street

See the trees?

A work of impressionist art

Combined with naturalism,

Realism,

And there a bit of abstract expressionism.

A study in pink,

I think.

(Love in the air.)

Notice the light.

in this installation,

and the palette of hues

the vivid blues,

the pink, the white,

yellow added to this site.

Now inside,

the dancers dance

bodies tango

they go

this way,

slide from couple to trio

fusion of moves

cues

(she’s in high heels)

catch, swerve

in gender-fluid dives

into each other,

what divides us–

the sensual steps,

the turns,

we yearn

for what?

“No exit,” Sartre says

(ideas compressed)

from seeing ourselves

as others do,

and how do we hold on to

me or you?

We wander back

outside where spring

dances, prances, and glides.

An aside–

we converse with Ben

once again.

And the next day,

I’m once again outside

spring fever,

I decide

No cure,

but to immerse myself

once more.

See, there–

we drink some wine

our thoughts aligned

with others

of similar mind

the winery is crowded.

But this April day—

I wish it’d stay.

Then it’s gone—

another painting on the wall

but yet, not banal.

Don’t you adore

the artist’s shading?

Watch how–

there now–

see the bright light of day

slowly fading

to darkness,

come the night.

IMG_1872

 

Day Eight of NaPoWriMo challenges us “to think about the argot of a particular job or profession, and see how you can incorporate it into a metaphor that governs or drives your poem.”  I used some jargon of the art world.

On Saturday, we saw Union Tanguera + Kate Weare Company, “Sin Salida,” at the Annenberg Center. Here’s a short video from the company.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Step into Spring: NaPoWriMo

Monday Morning Musings:

“Let the rain kiss you.

Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.

Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”

–from Langston Hughes, “April Rain Song”

 

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed

Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;

—John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

 

She sings from an ache,

raw winds blow, shake

the bare-branched trees,

and the seas weep

till they are silenced by ice–

but on her daughter’s return

the snow melts,

and the sun burns

brightly, birds flitter and coo

and flowers wake with smiles

–and you?

You, smile, too–because

too soon we bid Spring adieu.

***

In the last days of March,

we walk through woods

find shadows and light

breathe air fresh and bright,

with a hint of chill–still

then comes the rain–again

In the last days of March

birds twitter and tweet

at the mornings sweet

with promise of days fair

then the air turns again

and we learn that spring

is here. . . then there

 

In the last days of March,

we walk down city streets

see a show

and have our treats

of wine, beer, cheese

(yes, a bit more please)

and come home at night

to find daffodils have bloomed

shining golden beacons of light

IMG_9405

In the last days of March,

we make candles

sitting in a room full of scent

invent clever names–

imagine a small burning flame

bringing light,

a small delight,

and we drink wine and talk

then walk

and talk some more

 

of stories and poetry

Langston Hughes, Keats,

Shelley, and Persephone, too.

We talk of teachers we knew

of stories completed in dreams

of how the world seems

sometimes horrid, and

sometimes reborn,

fresh and new.

On the last day of March

it rains—

again—

IMG_9353

we gather to eat—

bagels and cream cheese

my mother is pleased

to be out and about in another place,

but it’s a dog who steals the show—

of course, you know

how it is, and so,

we talk about this and that

IMG_2037

then we go home to feed our cats. . .

IMG_3812

and wake upon a cold April first

(isn’t that the worst?)

Well, I suppose it could be snow,

and so. . .we go forward to the spring

(let the rain kiss you)

and that’s how it’s done, we bring

our past to the future

spring forward, looking back,

we stop, step lightly—

breathe

here, this moment of

yellow flowers, pink blooms

and birdsong–

now, spring looms

and I pause

to listen

to its tune.

 

Today is the first day of April, and the first day of National/Global Poetry Writing Month! Today’s prompt is “how to do something.” I’ve played on it a bit for today’s Monday Morning Musings.

My younger daughter and I went to Wax and Wine in Philadelphia. (It was her belated birthday present.)  And because we’re both nerds, we were actually discussing writing and poetry while drinking wine and eating gorgonzola-fig bruschetta at Vintage Wine Bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo

 

 

 

 

Harbingers of Hope and Fear

Monday Morning Musings:

“They look like what you aren’t expecting. What you aren’t paying attention to.”

Neil Gaiman, “Click-clack the Rattlebag”

“Between those happenings that prefigure it
And those that happen in its anamnesis
Occurs the Event, but that no human wit
Can recognize until all happening ceases.”

–W.H. Auden, Epigraph in his Homage to Clio

 

I wanted to write about spring,

about flowers and birdsong–

petrichor–

the things before

the sky turned grey

and people were killed

as they prayed

(they were prey).

 

Here I see the crocuses bloom,

sunlight pours into the rooms

through windows opened wide.

(How do we stem the tide,

the hate and fear

that appears

year after year

after year?)

 

He says there’s no big threat

as he foments and abets,

time before and time after

disasters loom

say the forecasters

tornados and floods

in the heartland

(land of hearts—

What is the sound of them breaking?)

 

My heart beats

some no longer do–

the ones who aren’t you

reading these words

that fly across the page,

free to sing,

uncaged birds

of nouns, adjectives, and verbs

IMG_1831

of action

and reaction

What should we do?

What can we say

to drive the hate away?

Verbs: endure, resist, speak out, sway

push against the rising tide

the climate’s changing

(too many dead).

 

And is it wrong to drink some wine?

celebrate life

while there’s time?

To laugh at a chicken amidst the vines–

more verbs: to love, to dance, to find romance?

If we don’t do these things

then don’t fear and hate win–

making us grovel and dour

unable to see or smell the budding flowers?

 

And so, we listen to music

“Making the best of a bad situation,”

he sings

we laugh

we tap our feet with the beat

of guitar strumming,

the music remains in my head

humming–

though fear

still floats through the air,

between the happenings

the imaginings

and the paying attention

through the misdirection–

sometimes they look like what

you’re not expecting–

you might misconstrue.

But beware,

sometimes they do.

 

Yet—when I open my door

at the start of day

wondering if I’ve lost my way–

my soul rises and soars

to hear the predawn choir sing

returning to nest again

in budding trees,

I seize this moment

make it mine,

the joy it brings–

harbinger–

now, I write about spring.

IMG_1706

We saw Tom Rush at the World Café in Philadelphia last night. His concerts are always a treat. This concert was my husband’s birthday present.

***The WP Gremlins were enjoying themselves last Monday. Some people told me they never got a notification about my post that day. Here it is, if you didn’t see it and you’re interested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evanescence

IMG_1706

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“let us dream of evanescence and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”

― Kakuzō Okakura, The Book of Tea

(Thanks to Beth of I Didn’t Have My Glasses On for this quotation.)

“You can’t see them, but they are there.
Unseen things are still there.”

–from Misuzu Kaneko , “Stars and Dandelions” Read more here.

“Aunt Esther: You think you supposed to know everything. Life is a mystery. Don’t you know life is a mystery? I see you still trying to figure it out. It ain’t all for you to know. It’s all an adventure. That’s all life is. But you got to trust that adventure.”

–August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean

 

Snow, sun, rain

fleeting moments, each a chain

from then to here—

the dust of stars falls near

 

and ghosts appear

though we may not hear—

 

listen! There the rustle, the sigh

spirits or dreams flitting, drifting by?

Temporary, like our days,

so say poets and playwrights in their plays

 

(how do you measure a year?)

 

we take brief moments to watch the story

days of hope, days of glory

 

(one song glory)

 

days of fear and longing,

days to find a sense of belonging

 

to build walls, or tear them down

to visit the City of Bones, surround

 

oneself with people who care

enough to travel through, and share

 

(seasons of love)

 

the adventure, life

through Underground Railroads, and beyond—the strife

 

of being separated from family, husband and wife

and then finding emancipation is still rife

 

with pain, and different chains

two trains running, and from remains

 

of cities and lives, present and past

and so, if asked

 

(What about love?)

 

we take a chance on freedom,

on love, on hope, and try to teach them–

 

our children, lovers, friends—

that such much depends

 

on what we do now

when we allow

 

to linger in each beautiful pause

because

 

our time is limited to

see the unseen, too few

 

moments in a year

 

(Five hundred twenty-five thousand 
Six hundred minutes
)

 

lost to pain, despair, and fear

 

We gather our rosebuds, while we may

Ok. Wrong season, enough to say

 

we walk and talk, and drink some wine

we walk some more, the day is fine

 

we see some plays

then, find more ways

 

(with a thousand sweet kisses)

 

to find some joy, the mystery

of life, the history

9FF5A005-B03B-4865-BCBB-5A0D2F7F0DB3

ours and theirs

so, dance, who cares?

 

It’s an adventure, for real

not always ideal

 

in fact, sometimes awful

perhaps, unlawful

 

But

(No day but today)

 

 

Look! The unseen things are here, there

in earth, moon, stars—everywhere.

IMG_1500

 

We saw August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, a wonderful, stirring, magical play at the Arden Theater. It is part of Wilson’s American Century Cycle, chronically African-American life. This one was one of the last plays he wrote, but it’s the first chronologically in the cycle. It’s set in 1904. We saw Rent, the 20th Anniversary Tour. The parenthetical lines come from Rent songs. Rent is a sort of retelling of La Bohème set in New York during the AIDS crisis. Jonathan Larson (book, music, lyrics) died of an aortic aneurysm a few weeks before the show opened in 1996. We ate at Tria and Monk’s in Philadelphia.

Also, yesterday began Daylight Saving Time, and I hate it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connections

Monday Morning Musings:

“In a poem, one line may hide another line,

As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.”

–From Kenneth Koch (1925-2002), “One Train May Hide Another”

Full poem here

“Two girls discover

the secret of life

in a sudden line of

poetry.”

From Denise Levertov (1923-1997), “The Secret”

Full poem here.

IMG_1500

Ask if–

and in the language of cool whispers

she sings,

urging us

to what we want—

to soar

Everything is connected. . .

***

The days are cold, then warm,

next comes a storm

of snow, ice, rain,

till the sun shines again

as off to Florida he goes

no emergency, everybody knows

is this the beginning or the end—

only time will tell, my friend

 

if the country lives through this mess

this miasma of awfulness

and where will we go from here–

everything connected, but not so clear

 

why birds appear, everywhere

on the water, and in the clouds

I laugh aloud to see them there

and sigh to catch one unaware

IMG_1450

of how his beauty brightens my day

the dreariness, the gloom, held at bay

one tree branch may hide another—

and behind that, some other–

IMG_1434

a bit of beauty, once unseen

now there it is, what does it mean?

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”

I wonder–is it something in-between

 

the lines of time, of place

the love that flutters in the space

between two lines—

sometimes it shines

 

in words, in deeds, or touches in time

OK, so, I didn’t make him a Valentine–

but I prepared some fondue

and we enjoyed it—well, wouldn’t you?–

along with the dipping and drinking

wine, and laughing

just enjoying without asking

as stomachs swelling, sinking

 

with all that bread and cheese

(just a bit more, please)

then chocolate to follow–

and if I walk with a bit of a waddle

 

well, more to love,

just give me a shove,

and next day to the gym

I’ll go for me, and not for him

***

We walk through the city

cold, but in sunshine, pretty

we watch a movie about art

and connection, in nature, and the part

 

between humans in ways known and not

perhaps the person you meet, was someone caught

somehow in your life, the whys unknown, and the when

as rain falls, to nourish fields, then evaporates again

 

part of a cycle, through history and time–

love and hate, poverty, wars, crime–

and how we express these things in art,

how do we share our passion and heart?

 

The movie is about art and history,

of the artist, and the mystery

of inspiration and creation,

and of repression and degradation

 

of people by those who are supposed to serve,

but instead they swerve

to serve hate with cool efficiency–

its own mental deficiency

 

as I see it, but not the one they wished to eliminate

with a path that looked so pat and straight

sterilization and cremation,

all to build their master race and nation.

 

And yet, art remains,

strains our brains

unchains with its power

though they censor and glower

 

at artists who speak the truth

and don’t look away, (not just the youth)

or any gender or race, but there is a trace

in all of us, a creative spark, a grace–

 

well, that is what I think about,

perhaps a shout out

to how we’re connected through the ages

In different paths, and through different stages,

but for now—I’ll stop and drink some wine

pretend or find that all is fine,

connect the dots, from below to above

with my musing thoughts to ask if. . .love

 

I wasn’t certain how to begin this Monday musing, so I went to the Oracle, who gave me the opening—which fit so well– of course–and another connection.

 

We saw the movie, Never Look Away. I love that my husband, whose birthday is today, will readily go with me to see a three-hour German movie. (Dale may be the only other person I know who might see it), but we both really liked it. And it honestly did not seem that long. It’s about an artist, Kurt Barnert, based, perhaps loosely, on the life of German artist Gerhard Richter. Barnert grows up during the rise of the Nazis and WWII and then lives in East Germany. When he is a child, his beautiful and beloved aunt Elisabeth tells him to “never look away.” Through her, he is connected to art, history, and to choices— both random and those he makes in his own life. Trailer here.

We also went to a wine and chocolate tasting event at William Heritage Winery. I appear to have really enjoyed that wine. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Universal Truths, Some Ice Doesn’t Melt

Monday Morning Musings:

“Poverty made a sound like a wet cough in the shadows of the room.”

–Ray Bradbury  (Referenced here.)

There’s ice on the river,
but it will melt,

Ice on the Delaware seen from Patco Train
not so some hearts

that stay ever frozen,

 

no warm current flows

there to thaw,

 

the cold. No way

to resuscitate the lifeless

 

zombies

feeding on the living.

 

Yet they proclaim

their love of life

 

when it’s cells

they pretend to care about–

 

but not the ones

into which people are thrown

 

not the children taken

and lost

 

and not their parents–

only the cells that might be,

 

not the violence

that affects them,

 

not the guns or poverty.

Power and money

 

their gods

though they pay lip-service

 

to a deity

twisted to defend

 

their beliefs.

It’s an age-old tale,

 

a universal truth that

the mighty can tumble,

 

but those just getting by

fall over the edge

and into a ravine

often unseen,

 

there to remain,

but it can happen

 

to almost anyone

without influence

 

or connections.

Perhaps—

 

connection

is the key,

 

if only to one

lock

 

of the many–

the librarian

 

who makes the homeless child

feel special,

 

the immigration officer,

who learns that

 

that law and morality

and not always the same thing.

 

We walk through city streets

where murals bring beauty–

 

and truth,

and a museum opens its doors

and galleries

to new works among the old–

social and economic inequality

consumption of people and goods

 

the movement of people and goods

across the globe–

 

a complex interaction

of thought, art, and words.

I amuse myself in imagining

my father and older daughter

 

walking though these rooms–

he, who wrote a dissertation

 

on Charles Willson Peale,

and she, an artist with a passion

 

for justice. What fun they would

have had here.What a discussion

they might have had—

perhaps in some alternative world,

 

but here, we are

and we go to a movie

 

immersed in a world that does exist–

It is fiction, but tells a truth

 

of poverty, chaos

that most of us cannot imagine.

 

Through it a young boy navigates

with defiance, bravery, spirit—and kindness

 

rising above it all

despite the example

 

of his parents, and many

around him blind to what is before them.

 

A story again of immigrants, too,

because this another universal truth

 

that people move and come legally and illegally

to Ethiopia, Lebanon, Iceland, the U.S.

 

to which my grandparents came.

And your ancestors were immigrants too

 

if you look back far enough.

And were they helped by someone?

 

Most likely.

 

We each walk our own paths

with tenuous connections

 

that sometimes mesh

or interact.

Late Afternoon, Washington Square, Philadelphia

 

The meteorologist says

there’s freezing fog today

IMG_1347

but the temperatures will rise,

and the ice will melt

 

But some hearts will stay cold

and some minds will remain frozen

 

screens where the cursor never moves

to write new thoughts.

 

We saw And Breath Normally. It’s on Netflix, trailer here.  It’s a quiet movie (no music, Dale!), but well done, about a immigration officer in Iceland and the African refugee who helps her. Though it’s set in Iceland, it could have taken place in many different nations. And we saw Capernaum (trailer here), which will just rip your insides outs. That little boy AND that toddler, and the horrible parents, and the surroundings. . .yeah, just see it.

We went to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where Rina Bannerjee’s work is on display until March  31. (Free on Sundays during the exhibition). You can see and read more about her work here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My grandmothers, both immigrants

 

 

I amuse myself by imagining my father and my older daughter walking through the gallery discussing his view of the Peales and her views on art and feminism. They would have had so much fun.

Art

 

Resistence spices peel  never imagine without inheritance  I see revealed

Sun disguises well the feather we see while home

 

Stop these storms

 

She sings of summer

While the wind urges elaborate dreams

Heaving enormous fluff

 

When

Her heart healed

He looked long

Letting it be less

Herself

Him

The perfume of need and want

Melting

In embrace

Timeless as the ocean

Exploring the night

 

 

Impressions

Monday Morning Musings:

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”

–T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

In the last week of the year, in the dark of December, we gather with family. We eat and eat some more. We drink and drink some more. We exchange gifts. We laugh at our goofiness, and we laugh to keep from crying. Laugh for joy, laugh to keep the ghosts at bay.

winter dark lingers

pale sun hides behind grey clouds–

winter birds still sing

 

 

There are endless lists—the best movies of the year, the best books, and the famous people who have died. This has been a year of horror for many, and a year of fear for my country. Guns, fires, protests, children abused and dying–and those nonstop tweets. We bury our heads in pillows, blanket our thoughts to pretend this is not happening. I listen to ghost stories because they are less frightening than thinking about what could really happen in this world.

ghosts replay stories

winter always, never spring–

still, sapling sprouts, grows

IMG_0300 2

Theresienstadt Tree

 

The rain comes again and again. Finally, we walk in sunshine. We walk through city streets decorated for Christmas. We see a movie about Vincent Van Gogh, a tortured soul who created beauty with a ferocious passion. His impressions have lasted longer than he did. He taught us how to see the starry night, to see all the shades of yellow in a sunflower, to see the light and color.

red and green doors call

holiday cheer to neighbors–

winter warmed with smiles

Tonight, we’ll gather with our friends. The friends of decades–from before we had children, and they had grandchildren. We’ll eat Chinese food, and find our fortunes in a cookie. We’ll wish each other Happy New Year, though we will all most likely be in bed long before the bells peal, the ball drops, and the fireworks light up the sky. My impression of the old year—tortured souls and broken lives, missing pieces, like van Gogh’s ear. Yet, there is still beauty. Like van Gogh, we need to find light, and paint it quickly with our souls before it fades away. Remember it in our hearts. My heart swells as the dawn rises on a new day, a new year—awaiting new words.

 

old words tucked away,

come new year in harmony–

bird on snowy branch

bravely sings in hope of love

soon cherry blossoms will fall

 

Greeting Dawn    Merril D. Smith 2018

 

Wishing all hearts filled with joy and peace in the new year.

I’m linking this to Frank’s Haikai Challenge for the New Year prompt. We saw the movie, At Eternity’s Gate. Trailer here.  Husband and I agreed it was not a great movie. I think the parts were greater than the sum, but William Dafoe is wonderful as van Gogh, and van Gogh and his brother Theo’s relationship is depicted with great tenderness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Week That Was

Monk's Cafe--Inside Looking Out

Monk’s Cafe, Philadelphia Merril D. Smith 2018

I was born in this city where now we go to celebrate, the night before my birthday. Holiday lights glow through the misty air. We sit in a pub, warm and cozy, even though the nearby tables are loud with after work parties, students, and academics. I gaze through the window as two young girls outside take photos of an older couple standing in front of the Christmas lights. Perhaps the girls’ grandparents? My husband and I clink our glasses in a toast, and I dig into my mussels.

 

holiday spirits,

sparkling souls in glowing light

December revels

We walk around the neighborhood for a bit. Rittenhouse Square is full of light; the skyline shimmers. We see winter trees and signs of city life.

 

ghostly branches wave,

beckoning to seasons past

harboring futures

We go to show, laugh at the jokes and clever Broadway parodies. The woman next to me sits stoically, never applauding, but suddenly lets out a loud guffaw at a joke about [vice-president] Mike Pence waiting to be raptured. Well, it was a funny joke. It is raining as we walk back to the train.

 

IMG_0774

raindrops dripping from branches—

glimmers in puddles

It is still raining the next day, my birthday, but we walk around anyway. Then go to a movie of cinematic splendor, filmed in black and white. The images linger on screen and in my mind–

 

puddles on cement

an airplane flying through clouds

crashing ocean waves

Class struggles. Race. But always women without men, raising children.

 

 

We eat Chinese food with friends, laughing, catching up with this and that. I receive roses from one friend, and another bakes me a birthday cake. My husband gives me chocolate truffles. I get birthday wishes from family and friends. I talk to one daughter on the phone, and I see the other at a winery holiday party. Despite the weather, this has been a wonderful birthday weekend.

 

I am thankful for this life.

I was born just before the solstice. The days have been gloomy, and the nights grow longer.

now coming darkness

then the coming of more light

long night’s moon whispers

softly from behind the cloud cover, where meteors blaze across the sky. Perhaps I hear them sigh.

I close my eyes. Like a vision—I see a snow owl. It swivels its head. Looks at me, raises its magnificent wings, and sails off into the night sky. I think of the owl I saw once on my birthday. Spirit animal? Magical vision? Who knows.  .  .

this feathered glory

shining white in midnight sky–

hope in the darkness

 

At Sharrott Winery, Members Holiday Party, 2018

 

I’m linking this to Frank’s Haikai challenge—solstice. We went to 1812 Production’s annual show, This is the Week That Is. We ate at Monk’s Café.  My daughter took me to the member’s holiday party at Sharrott Winery. We saw the movie, Roma. It will be on Netflix, but if you can, see it in the theater. The cinematography is worth it. Here’s the official trailer.