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.

 

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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.

 

 

The Laughing Breath of Stars: Magnetic Poetry

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Look for magic

on a fire cloud—breezing

 

to embrace the laughing breath of stars–

almost an eternity of rhythm–

 

born if and always

to linger—

 

so, when waked

ghosts go (never sadly)

 

but after-voiced lie healed,

so old and sacred,

 

time-kissed

and remembered–

 

And we will celebrate that which was

and like angels dance

 

over brilliant blushing skies–

a universe at peace

 

This the birthday poem the Oracle gave me.

 

Friday, 2 AM

 Friday, 2 AM

A sound awakens me–

the cat vomiting—

 

I wipe it up from the floor

return to my warm bed

 

cat cuddles against me,

his purrs

 

a calming motor

till they stop—

 

he’s asleep–

I’m not.

 

I listen to the night sounds

through winter-fastened windows—

 

no summer sound of mockingbird

singing through the night,

 

only the buzz of a distant highway

and planes carrying people far away.

 

But I’m content to be here–

my husband turns in his sleep—

 

my cat softly snores,

I close my eyes and dream.

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Grace is hosting the final Open Link Night for dVerse this year. dVerse will be on break until January 1, 2019.

I Watch the Candles Light the Past and Future

Monday Morning Musings:

 

“History is all about ‘what ifs’”

“It was a long time ago now. And it was yesterday.”

Kate Atkinson, Life After Life

“And while we are playing
The candles are burning low
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago”

From the song, “Hanukkah oh Hanukkah” Traditional

And so, again, we celebrate Hanukkah

as the nights grow longer

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the days grow colder

I make soup, bake bread,

time passes, a thread

connecting me to the past

 

I think of ancestors, steadfast

(I wonder) in determination

 

to leave the past, a cessation

of persecution, a new life.

 

We watch Mrs. Maisel, no longer wife

laugh, but still I think of the past

 

Borscht Belt and women’s rights, she and cast

moving through Paris, the Catskills, New York City

 

with dazzling designs and dialogue so witty

each episode a Hanukkah present,

 

and so it goes, we’re content

to pass the Hanukkah nights

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watching the candles burn bright

then I fry latkes again

with daughter remembering when

we grated, stirred with spoons

 

and listened to these tunes–

the maidel with the ladle—

 

I am happy we’re still able

to be together, to cook

 

to discuss friends, life, a book

and dance, sing, drink some wine,

eat some donuts, the company is fine–

as are the pets–

 

an asset to any set,

with tails wagging

they brighten moods flagging,

hers look for scraps on the floor

 

and bark at any noise at the door,

while mine watch the candles bright

and play with the dreidel in the light.

Generations, birthright, hindsight–

 

generations, frying latkes in the night

hoping for a miracle and promised lands–

 

my hands—

reach forward,

 

toward the unknown, hold present close,

but touch the past.

 

Still life goes on

as we remember days long ago,

 

time moves fast, or it goes so slow,

circling, dashing, we travel, with it flow.

 

Eighth Night of Hanukkah 2018

 

We’re watching Season Two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime). Here’s the Season 2 Trailer. For years my daughters and I have listened to an album, A Child’s Hanukkah by the Jewish Wedding Band. Here’s the first song, which includes the phrase “kiss the maidel with the ladle.”

 

The Refugees

We ache for our homes in morning light,

we trudge down dim roads, dusty from heat,

there’s sweat and thirst, but worse is the night

thinking of what was–once life was sweet.

 

We trudge down dim roads, dusty from heat,

we’re tired and sad, shed tears for loss,

thinking of what was–once life was sweet,

we journey on, our old lives we toss.

 

We’re tired and sad, shed tears for loss

we dream of new lives, dreams within dreams.

we journey on, our old lives we toss

overboard goes old, afar hope gleams.

 

We dream of new lives, dreams within dreams–

think in America we’ll be free.

Overboard goes old, afar hope gleams–

land of the free, perhaps, we’ll see.

 

So long the journey, who knows the end?

there’s sweat and thirst, but worse is the night

finding no welcome, finding no friends–

we ache for our homes in morning light.

Моисей_Слепян_Этюд_детей_беженцев_1915-16_гг.

Majsiej Sliapian [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Jilly has asked us to write a poem using a repetitive form for dVerse. This is a pantoum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

River Walk

I walk the water path

then climb the concrete stairs

 

to stroll past statues and monuments,

where apple trees once grew,

 

the sturdy plantation house stands on the bluff,

but it’s the river that calls

 

the battle-dead whisper

unseen, but fitful, sighing,

 

the flying hawk shadows me

while geese bask

 

at high-tide

the waves crash

 

and they fly

circling the water,

 

the river,

home.

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Delaware River, Red Bank Battlefield

For dVerse, Amaya has asked us to include a secret ingredient. I’m not sure if this works for the prompt, but this is what the muse gave me in between dreams last night, so I’m going with it.

 

 

 

December Comes with Cold and Light

Monday Morning Musings:

“Thus having prepared their buds

against a sure winter

the wise trees

stand sleeping in the cold.”

–From William Carlos Williams, “Winter Trees”

The first of December is mostly grey,

but not so cold—winter held at bay

 

for a while, but we smile to see the glow–

the sun on remaining leaves of trees slow

Philadelphia Parkway, December 2018

to sleep in winter’s arms,

and we walk to see the city’s charms

 

even in the bleakness of late fall—

almost winter—some magic calls

 

there, Diana shines atop the stairs

gilded anew, she seems aware

Diana, Philadelphia Museum of Art

of her strength, though she charms–

with arrow frozen in her arms

 

goddess of the hunt,

a moment, centered, upfront

 

there, I greet her like a friend

each time I visit, happy to see her send

 

(not the arrow), no never,

but she seems much too clever

 

to harm–such determination in her face–

perhaps she could send us hope and grace

 

we see dolls reflecting the passion

for both play and fashion

 

the bisque baby catches my eye

or the phrase captures my ear, why?

it sounds funny to me,

and so, we wander and see

 

a sibyl and monuments and Eve

through museum and streets, we weave

our way, and see the sights,

some Christmas lights,

 

drink mulled wine

feeling fine—then laugh to see that sign

we walk back and down the hill

where no joggers jog, all is still

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except the duck, who with quack and flap

jumps into the river—a slight slap—

 

against the surface, he swims

the sound, a chorus, a winter hymn

 

before the start of winter rain

with sun gone, shadows come again

 

bringing a misty afternoon twilight,

yes, this is December’s light.

 

Then Hanukkah comes with candle light

to bring us wonder and delight

 

I fry latkes in a pan

listening to a man

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discuss his life

some of the strife

 

escaping the Holocaust

in Kindertransport, crossed

 

to Sweden, his stuffed monkey with him*

the object now brings some joy, an era dimmed

 

by tragedy and time—family reunited

evil not forgotten or righted

 

exactly, but comforting to know

that helpers were there, not so long ago

 

and still, that there are people who did good

and do it still, do what they can, should and could

 

and so, we light the candles on this first night

eat latkes and smile at the sight

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Latkes!

of them burning till the flames die,

watch them belie

 

the darkness of night and soul

as believing in miracles makes us whole

 

more perhaps than what we seem–

the sum of what we hope and dream.

 

First Night of Hanukkah, December 2018

 

Hanukkah seems both more poignant and more important to celebrate this year.

I think I shared this story before from a previous All Things Considered segment, but Michel Martin interviewed Uri and Gert Beliner again last night.

We visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the members’ weekend and the Christmas Village.

Ask, The Answer is Blue Beauty

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Franz Marc, The Tower of Blue Horses,” [Public Domain] Wikepedia Commons

They ask,

and we arm.

 

There, see the blood spraying,

our heaves and screams?

 

But my ache—

I dream blue beauty

 

showing light and life

after all—

 

a why pictured

to shadowed if

 

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Poignant words from the Oracle, who apparently is a Franz Marc fan–

or perhaps Martian sunsets.

Sheep, Perchance to Dream

How to explain the surrealism of my dreams—

the talking sheep—

 

she holds a menu

and politely requests seasoned breads.

 

I’m not confused that she can talk, read

or walk upright—

 

I only regret

that the bread is unavailable,

 

and that the menu should say seasonal

instead of seasoned.

 

I wake laughing,

but later ponder,

 

who knows what talents a sheep has

or what desires?

 

We see the flock, the crowd,

not the individual

 

yearning for something better,

until they take a stand.

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Franz Marc, “Sheep,” [Public Domain] via Wikipedia Commons

This is a late offering for dVerse Open Link night, where Mish has asked us to post one poem on snow or anything else. I went for something else. I’m still catching up with reading others’ posts. I’ll try to catch up before latkes and wine on Sunday!  🙂