Braided: NaPoWriMo, Day 1

My hair–

in shoulder-length braid,

multi-colored strands

woven over and under,

the grey with brown overlaid,

gilded in gold—past, present, future

twined together

sharing the same roots.

Back it all goes,

away from my face.

(Don’t touch.)

 

I look in the mirror,

wonder if wisps of spring bloom

still in autumn frost.

What does it matter? Lines traced

forwards and back. Lifelines.

I turn away,

wash my hands. . .again.

 

Today is the first day of poetry month.  NaPoWriMo posts a prompt for each day of the month. I’ve taken part for the past two or three years. I may not post every day. We’ll see.  Today’s prompt was: “write a self-portrait poem in which you make a specific action a metaphor for your life – one that typically isn’t done all that often, or only in specific circumstances.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Light Rekindled

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The Upside-Down World: An overflow drainage pond is beautiful reflected. Merril D. Smith, March 2020

Monday Morning Musings:

“I borrowed his brightness and used it to see my way, and then gradually, from the habit of looking at the world as he illuminated it, the light in my own mind rekindled.”

–Geraldine Brooks, Year of Wonders

 

I walk, alone

no human voices, only birdsong.

Vultures soar above me,

social, silent creatures

gracefully catching the currents

 

 

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sniffing the air

for death on the ground,

unnoticed by us–

like those who scavenge and clean

under-appreciated, like those who serve.

 

Life blooms all around me

yellow, pink, white

petals bright against the sky

where a mockingbird perches

to sing for hours in looping trills

 

a song of love, longing, and hope

of attracting his mate,

or fending off others.

Whatever the intent,

his message makes me smile.

 

We celebrate Shabbat,

a virtual dinner with our daughters.

We light the candles, sip our wine,

cut the challah

share our lives and love through a screen,

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Virtual Shabbat Dinner

 

agreeing that we should do this again

agreeing that we are all connecting

in new ways—

I tell them I called a friend,

I remind myself to call others.

 

The sun shines

through the raindrops

a brief reminder

it is there, like a memory

it is always there

 

in a puddle

reflected

or in the sky

hidden by clouds

or by a turn of the axis–

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Sun shower–Upside-down World in a puddle Merril D. Smith, March 2020

 

even in the upside-down world

light is a constant,

if unseen

like light within a black hole

trapped

 

like a thought in a confused mind–

my mom says she’s honeymooning

with my dead father,

remembering not the anger, but love rekindled—

a bit of light in the darkness.

 

The week began with sunshine

ends with clouds and rain–

spring is a tease of

warm days and cool breeze,

but the light lingers longer

 

even while the shadows play.

 

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No movies this week, but we finished Season 3 of Babylon Berlin. It’s so good. Now we have to wait for Season 4.  I’m seeing new things in my neighborhood as I walk through it.

And we celebrated #openlocalwine night on Saturday. Doing our small part. 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Heart’s Reflections, Weighed

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Geese practicing social distancing on the Delaware River.

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“Neither the spider has planned for the leaf nor the leaf for the spider — and yet there they are, an accidental pendulum propelled by the same forces that cradle the moons of Jupiter in orbit, animated into this ephemeral early-morning splendor by eternal cosmic laws impervious to beauty and indifferent to meaning, yet replete with both to the bewildered human consciousness beholding it.”

–From Maria Popova, Figuring, quoted in Brainpickings

 

“The heart’s reasons

seen clearly,

even the hardest

will carry

its whip-marks and sadness

and must be forgiven.”

–Jane Hirshfield, “The Weighing”

 

 

I dream of the oak tree

its roots tunneling

expanding through darkness

linking to other roots

in connections we never see

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even as I do see—

do you?–

the branches saluting the sun,

the buds opening, sleepy-eyed

to greet the sun

 

and do you gaze, dazzled

to see how bushes, flowers, trees

literally bloom overnight—

do you hear the robin’s scolding–

“Look around you!”

One crow flies,

then another

calling, gathering in a tree,

“Now” they say.

“Now.”

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And I do look–

to the sky

and the ground below.

Which is the reflection, I wonder,

perhaps reality is the upside-down world,

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The World in a Puddle. Photo of a puddle in the parking lot at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ. March 2020.  Merril D. Smith

 

perhaps this is the dream?

Shadow-me drifts

moving with the river currents

fading with sun

and tides

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the ebb and flow

of life–

sun and moon,

stars,

the planets

 

move through our skies.

Once they were gods

now only so in name,

but is their power and beauty decreased,

or only different?

 

[See this photo of Jupiter.]

 

News of my mom comes–

she is isolated,

as if in space–

my dead father comforts her,

and I see the heart weighs,

 

reflects

the upside-down

and the shadows,

feels the ebb and flow

and forgives.

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Another puddle reflection, March 2020 Merril D. Smith

 

Like the rest of the world, we’re at home. We’re on Season 3 now of Babylon Berlin. We had a homemade pizza and movie night. We watched a new movie on Amazon Prime, Blow the Man Down. There’s a definite Coen Brothers vibe, complete with a Greek chorus of sea shanty-singing fishermen.

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Surfacing

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Guillermo_Gómez_Gil_-_Salida_de_la_luna

 

I hear gorgeous music

in this sky of purple-pink–

it whispers a symphony of when

and if

 

and after

 

I go,

the sea will still sing

of blue moons

and coming storms

 

screaming in silver spray–

 

while beneath,

shadows swim

in the cool grey water

together, soaring,

 

surfacing

 

to taste the wind

on their tongues

and feel the light of distant stars

shimmering through the mist of time.

 

My Saturday morning collaboration with the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. This started as a puente, but then it kept going. Sometimes the Oracle has more to say.

 

Everyday Miracles

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Monday Morning Musings:

“We forget that nature itself is one vast miracle transcending the reality of night and nothingness. We forget that each one of us in his personal life repeats that miracle.”

–Loren Eiseley, The Firmament of Time, quoted here.

 

In argent splendor, she rises

full in her monthly course

Worm Moon in a yearly cycle

as winter turns to spring

she hums a song

 

awakening the flowers

pink, yellow, blue, white

and birds soar, black silhouettes

against the feather-clouds

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while beneath, unaware,

puppies run and tumble. I toss

a frisbee in the air

chased and caught–

what rises falls–

 

as we know, but forget,

ignore the signs,

and the moon’s warning–

it will be cockeyed day

of near mishaps

 

still the sun rises and sets

as the earth rotates

and we spin, but don’t fall—not yet—

while we make another revolution

through the year

 

to my sister-niece’s birthday.

While the men create order

from the chaos of the garden

we watch the river less restrained

crashing in waves upon the rocks

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Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ

 

while across the water

large ships sail into port

and out again to the sea

a cycle of commerce—

the river has seen it all, she sighs

 

as we walk and talk

of family and friends

of the history of this place

once full of crops and fish

where men died in battle

 

(Do you shiver, sensing their ghosts

drifting by?)

 

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we reflect on the times

but we eat and drink

celebrate her birthday–

in this time of caution–

with a solo candle for her slice–

 

 

don’t get too close,

the three-quarter moon hums

Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn

Ignore her,

the age-old story–

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pestilence and plagues

arrogance and ignorance–

but the flowers bloom again in spring

whether we see them or not

a miracle of nature

 

we forget and remember

trying to tame chaos

as the waves crash

we stop, look—sometimes

holding out a hand, even if it’s dangerous–

 

and the sun

rises again

and again

and again

and again.

 

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Sunrise Salutation

 

It’s been a strange week. Some of you may have seen my previous post, “Tilting.”

Merril’s Movie Club: In this time of social distancing, we haven’t gone out to see any movies recently, but we watched a movie last night, White Lies, New Zealand’s entry for Best Foreign Film at the 2014 Academy Awards. It’s a film that slowly uncovers secrets from the past about identity, colonialism, and women’s roles. It’s in Maori and English. It’s on Amazon Prime.

We’re also watching Babylon Berlin on Netflix. It’s been on  my list for awhile, but we’re just getting to it. Season 3 just dropped. We’ve binged Season 1, which begins in Berlin in 1929, and we’re on Season 2 now. It’s a real Merril show—neo-noir with a complicated storyline, dazzling visuals, and song and dance in every episode. I was a bit confused after the first episode, but now I’m hooked (and so is my husband).

 

 

 

 

Once and for Now

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

 

Once the moon hummed

in a dazzling glow

and we who wanted–

and longed for if–

walked through now

listening to our own hearts

beating

 

~in time~

 

death comes

but now

beneath sweet budding branches,

as pink and red blooms burst open,

the music of life

plays a symphony,

luscious and sweet

 

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The Oracle gave me this puente today. It’s been a crazy week. The world still seems to be tilting while we’re holding on. I thought we were in lock down today, but it was a false alarm.

I apologize for the delay in reading posts. I’m going to take the opportunity to get some errands done today while I still can, but I’ll be catching up on reading this weekend.

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.

Gogyohka for March

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

 

River waves whirl and roll

gulls and geese gather on shore

under the grapefruit sun

I step over ghosts of winter

into puddles of spring-growing light.

 

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A round of robins

sings a round of spring,

high notes fly towards the sun,

a cool breeze whips from the river

tickling my skin through un-zippered coat.

 

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I couldn’t decide on which one to use, so here are two gogyohka for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. Yes, I’m might working through a list of fruit-inspired descriptions. 😉

 

Single Threads Together

Sunset over the Delaware River, Feb.2020

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

Monday Morning Musings:

“It may be the only mark we make. Sic parvis magna … From small things, greatness.”

–Tracy Chevalier, A Single Thread: A Novel

 

 

Spring enters in a gavotte

to finish with a sun-kissed flower finale,

but winter interrupts the dance

grabbing the dancers with icy fingers

and thrusting them apart

 

this dance is the thread of life,

the world wakes again

the birds are beginning to sing–

just before dawn I hear them

rehearsing for early summer’s concert

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Later, they perch like fruit on trees

gathering in numbers

to sing farewell to the sun

and the day, old friends perhaps

who can finish each other’s sentences

 

threading them with references

that bind them together

a single thread, and another

woven into the fabric of the season

unraveled, threaded, woven again.

 

 

My sister-friends and I drink tea

we drop story-stitches, pick them up again,

single threads joined together

made stronger by overlapping

knotting them in love

 

nourishing them with food and drink–

the sandwiches are delicious

and so are the sweets.

We talk of #MeToo, politics,

of scary and stupid people

 

who sew all the wrong threads

into a horrid designs–

and then we sigh,

change the subject,

pour more tea

 

into the lovely cups. We drink.

The room is full of women,

and I wonder why

is this a woman’s place

or thing?

 

This sorting of masculine and feminine,

of black and white threads

of Christian, Muslim, Jew,

and places we’re afraid to go (my friend says),

these are knots that need unraveling. We sigh. Again.

 

The wind blows cold,

My husband and I stay inside

I make soup

bake bread

we watch movies and TV.

I watch my cat,

he is sick,

I wish I could heal him

with bread and soup–

he watches birds and the sun.

 

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My cat is better, but the world is sick

I wish I could heal it with bread and soup

and tea–

we could talk, women, men, children

weaving our stories together,

 

each of us a single thread

stitched into a blanket of time.

Does one stitch make a difference, or not–

I watch the sun rise and set,

tomorrow, I may see a flower bloom

 

small things that make a mark,

the tree that grow from a single seed

the egg that hatches into an eagle

the things that change the world,

single threads, woven together.

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Crocuses blooming, and daffodils coming up.

 

 

My friends and I had tea at Mademoiselle Macaron in Mullica Hill, NJ. I’m actually more of a coffee drinker, but going out to tea is something special.  I’m about halfway through Tracy Chevalier’s A Single Thread. It’s a historical novel that discusses the “surplus women” in between the two World Wars, and focuses on one who joins the embroiderers who embroider the kneelers at Winchester Cathedral. Any readers who go to my local library, I’ll return it for you soon.  🙂

Merril’s Movie Club: We missed it in the theater, but Honey Boy is now streaming. It is Shia LaBeouf’s autobiographical story (he plays his father)–sad, funny, and moving. I thought it was excellent. My cat was a bit alarmed by Bob Dylan’s harmonica music at the end.

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