Looking at Yesterday, Seeing Tomorrow

Monday Morning Musings:

“Sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laiden with happiness and tears.”

–from Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, “Sunrise, Sunset,” Fiddler on the Roof (1964)

After thousands of sunrises and sunsets

the years fly quickly,

faster now, summer turns to autumn,

spring tears fall and shoots appear–

winter snow glitters on our heads.

 

Once I was a turtle,

slowly walking across a road

I hid my head from others

though I showed off my lovely carapace,

then you took me from my shell

A711D37C-F864-46AA-9082-DF6F3F5FA66A

and brought me into the world of people.

I showed you the world of books and art,

introduced you to exotic turtle food

and we played and burrowed deep,

into our blanket nest.

 

Our children were fawns

long-legged, shy, and fey,

until their camouflaging spots faded,

and then they sang the songs of birds

and gathered the wisdom of owls

 

tossing words, pitching music, and beaming light

into the world–

sometimes it was reflected back

in all the colors of the universe,

bringing love.

BC30E44A-4E31-4EA7-86D5-9BC4BFB11F06

8896A486-2E82-4758-8C27-DAB0C546E0BD

And now?

The water calls to me in rivers, streams, and oceans,

I sometimes carry the heavy weight of my shell,

but you share the burden,

and when I look at my reflection,

E6DA421D-37E8-4677-820B-3DD7E532E6F1649CEB36-897F-48C5-A99F-C958ED390F1420A016AA-F715-4661-991E-7AD707AC52EB

 

I see worlds beyond worlds–

the absurdity of the upside-down,

the glowing rays of a double sun

the promise of all the ifs,

and the hope in infinite possibilities stretching to forever.

16BD6D98-ABCB-46CF-9EAE-9056A4433011

I do not look to yesterday but walk into the future.

 

We celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary a few days ago, but we’ve known each other since ninth grade. To celebrate, we went to Ocean City, NJ and walked on the beach for a couple of hours in the morning, avoiding people as best we could. Then later we went on our first real outing since March. We went to a winery for our anniversary dinner, where we sat outside physically distanced from the other patrons, and after a brief thunderstorm, we enjoyed wine, pizza, and gelato. I think we were both a bit giddy to be out. I put my mask back on whenever our masked server came to the table.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Merril’s Movie Club: Back to more obscure Merril films. Both are on Netflix. We watched See You Yesterday, which we both really liked. All of the acting is excellent, especially the two engaging leads who portray brilliant Black teens hoping to get scholarships to good universities—a future. But this is very much a Black Lives Matter film, and they attempt to change the past. Playing on the theme, Michael J. Fox has a cameo appearance.

We also watched Bulbul, an Indian horror film—though it’s not a jump out of your seat horror. It’s more of a dark fable with beautiful cinematography.  It deals with a child bride and her life as an adult in her husband’s household, where her best friend is her brother-in-law. There is a tale of a demon/goddess who lives in the trees and swoops down to attack men at night. The story is retold throughout the movie. We both liked it, though I think I liked it more than my husband did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting, Watching, Waking

512px-Odilon_Redon_-_The_Muse_on_Pegasus_-_Gunma_Museum_of_Modern_Art

Odilon Redon, “The Muse on Pegasus”

 

Born in a dazzle of smoke and ice,

time travelers dancing to the rhythms of the universe,

 

their songs hold secrets, a symphony un-tongued,

 

but felt and heard in the wind–

of life, death,

and a longing for love—

 

the music of lust and light,

why, and if only—

 

we turn away, when we should linger,

 

waiting for the storms to end,

and watching for dawn to come,  laughing

waking the morning blooms.

 

My Saturday collaboration with the Poetry Oracle.

 

 

Perhaps

B28F77B4-3B1D-4831-A0BE-214706C4280C

Monday Morning Musings:

“Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

 

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.”

Pablo Neruda, Keeping Quiet”

 

On the inside, looking out

as the earth comes alive

white-flowered and robin-trilled,

visible joys

invisible hazards

IMG_8993

Tiny Beautiful Things

torment us–

miasma, they once believed,

poisonous vapor,

now we know a virus drifts and sits—

stay far away, wear a mask,

 

and wash your hands—

“Out damned spot! Out—”

we say

in collective panic, guilt,

and a truthful reminder

 

of scientific fact,

facts, a dear commodity

often ignored, as if invisible,

against the gaudy lies,

pink flamingos standing on one leg.

 

But now the world is upside down,

will we value the invisible

in the after

as we never did in the before?

Stop, take a breath–

3056D1C2-14E9-4EBC-A4F7-AE1201F6597A

Puddle Reflection–the upside down world

 

remember the dreams.

“My mother told me this story,”

I say in mine.

It is not a true story

of my grandmother,

 

but it is a story of women,

of carrying on,

of working and making do,

my inner me reminds me

of this—but also to dream, to smile.

 

My mother visits with my dead father,

she walks an imaginary pet dog

through hallways she cannot walk,

dreamworld connections

beyond time and space,

 

we reach out

in our virtual Shabbos dinner–

again

connecting

and again

IMG_0483

IMG_6664

The morning after–my work is done.

 

holding our friends

and loved ones however we can.

The world outside blooms, trees hold wisdom,

and the river still flows,

carrying ghosts and dreams.

 

15B8B656-00B0-496C-AA79-9538E144FA2A

The gnarled, wise face of this mulberry tree.

 

I hope all of you and your loved ones are well. Sending virtual hugs to all of you! And cookies. I baked these Hamantaschen yesterday.

B1049D00-C18C-49A3-8817-EBFD2E95FBDD

 

Merril’s Movie Club: we watched three totally different movies this week. All on Prime.

The Handmaiden, a Korean movie (in Korean and Japanese) inspired by Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, with the setting changed from Victorian London to Korea in the 1930s. It is sumptuous, beautifully filmed, and erotic (NOT a family film) with sly, fun plot twists.

The Invisible Man. This new version with Elisabeth Moss is a fast-paced thriller (not horror). If I had seen it in the theater, I probably would have jumped in my seat more than I did. It is also about domestic abuse, which if you want to get all metaphorical, is often an invisible crime. It costs $20 to rent, but I had that much left on an Amazon gift card—plus we’re not going out to the movies.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco.This was one I had thought about seeing when it was playing in Philadelphia. I would definitely watch this one again, and of the three, my husband and I liked this one the most, and we thought if we had gone out to see it, we would have had a long post-movie discussion over wine for this one. Watching the trailer for this one just now, I wanted to see it again. It is inspired by the main character Jimmie’s real life story.  Perhaps it is a true-to-life fiction about dreams and lies. Nearly the entire cast (including the street corner Greek Chorus) has San Francisco connections. There are weird random bits within this movie that somehow just fit in–I suppose like when you walk through a city and see strange sights and people.

We also watched the Netflix series, Unorthodox, which is inspired by Deborah Feldman’s 2012 memoir. This is an excellent four-episode series—we watched two episodes each night—in Yiddish, German, and English about a Hasidic woman from Brooklyn who leaves her life and goes to Berlin. Israeli actress, Shira Haas is outstanding as the main character, Esty. Haas had to learn Yiddish for the role.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the Seconds, Connecting

Philadelphia from Patco train, February 2020

This moment–sparkling.

Monday Morning Musings:

“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings. . .

This moment, this seed, this wave of the sea, this look, this instant of love.”

-from “Elegy in Joy [excerpt]”

Muriel Rukeyser – 1913-1980

 

In the slow sailing of time

and the dazzle-dance of stars

in all the afters

and the befores

we find connections

 

heroes still live

chasing one another for eternity

unable to escape

though larger than life

and immortal

 

(as long as we see them)

even if they vanish

in the rosy blush of morning

like the dew

like the second that has just passed

 

never to return.

But this instant,

and the next,

a beginning each time

like this seed

a burst of lavender and yellow

comes again, crocus then daffodil

through the years,

four seasons,

one birthday to another

 

we celebrate you

we celebrate us

a special dinner,

cake and presents,

you smile

 

say you’ve been thinking Vera, Chuck, and Dave

but I’ve brought you a bottle of wine

and you’re still my Valentine

I still need you and feed you–

let us nourish beginnings,

 

the moments that pass too soon–

my mother tells me my father wrote songs

she says she knows they’re his

though they say anonymous

because they’re about her,

 

the moments they had

when he saw her

and she could still see

and the doctor can fix her eyelid

but not her sight

 

or her green eyes

dimmed by time

almost a century

our oak tree even older,

and ghosts dance beneath its boughs

349DF47F-69CC-46B4-B780-D70CF91E5A64

where we had a swing,

a yellow baby swing,

somewhere in time

maybe it exists still

gently swaying

 

a rippling memory

like old window glass

of what was–

and I could connect them

the present and the past,

Merchant Exchange Building, Philadelphia

Wavy window glass of the Merchant Exchange Building, Old City Philadelphia, 2020 Merril D. Smith

 

and then that moment

would pass, too

elusive like a ghost.

Does my mother really see him

my father?

 

In the movie

the women are bound by the past,

broken by war

wanting to nourish new beginnings

will they heal

 

connect to something more than ghosts?

They are filled with emptiness.

And she is frozen.

What happens to the ghosts

when past moves to future?

 

We watch a show of future times

space ships and androids,

but still there is war.

Treachery seems to fill the skies

everywhere, so we look for heroes

in the stars

and watch their dazzle-dance

and mark the passage of time

with cake

as we nourish love, drink–

and so, the seconds pass

from birth to death

all the in-betweens

seeds to flowers, kittens to cats,

stars explode and are reborn, connected.

***

Random bonus cats.

IMG_6373

Cats and reflections! Philadelphia.

 

IMG_6378

Sometimes we like each other. 

 

Merril’s Movie Club: We sawJoJo Rabbit on Prime. I think my husband liked it more than I did. Not that I disliked it, but. . .I’m not sure if it worked. It’s hard to laugh about Nazis. Parts of it I did, and the little boy in it is wonderful. We saw Beanpole in the theater. Another one that is difficult to say, “I liked it” because of the subject matter, but excellent acting–the two leads especially are astonishing–but also the whole cast. It is definitely a bleak movie set in post-WWII Leningrad, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

We started watching Picard, even though I really don’t want to pay for another streaming service, but Patrick Steward as Jean-Luc again and daughters are watching it. . . and yes, that is an Enterprise pizza cutter with our homemade pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Drive the Dark Away

IMG_5362

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.

AFD22DA3-F942-432C-A3D3-A86D41B903C2

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.

IMG_5389

From “Designs for Different Futures” Philadelphia Museum of Art

And a more peaceful image to leave you with

EC58B075-AEF1-41FA-9A9C-33E7A2558BCF

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B. Franklin and the Kite

512px-Dr._Franklin’s_Kite

Source: The Youth’s Book on Natural Theology, 1840 

 

First a rumble

grumbling in the night,

then a crack, the light

jagged and brightly-white

zig-zagging, where the kite

with hemp strands and key

conducts electricity–

a sight to see,

but from afar—

 

(check the jar)

 

this experiment of wonder,

science, lighting, and thunder.

 

A  quadrille (a poem of 44 words) for dVerse where De asked us to use the word “crack.” If you don’t know anything about Benjamin Franklin’s experiment, here are the details from the Franklin Institute—it includes a passage from his article in the Pennsylvania Gazette.  He actually electrified the hemp from the charged air, not directly from the lightning, but poetic license. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering

Monday Morning Musings:

“The purpose of theatre is to bring into public that which is kept offstage. . .”

Paula Vogel, The New Yorker, May 12, 2017.

“We have a story we want to tell you . . .About a play. A play that changed my life. Every night we tell this story—but somehow I can never remember the end. … No matter. I can remember how it begins. It all starts with this moment—”

From Paula Vogel, Indecent

 

About that breeze

carrying the scent of flowers

in the rain—

now rust-tinged with blood–

does it haunt you?

Listen–

the sound of ghosts walking

through ashes, whispering, whispering

the sound of pain

the sound of love and desire

carried through time

***

 

We walk

(through, around, over

ghosts)

steps echoing

a city filled

with art and history

there a bridge

named for a poet

(who lived in Camden)

who celebrated history

and nature

IMG_2969

human bodies and love

(he spoke of that

which was not spoken)

indecent, some said

unnamed the fear

of love

is love is love is love is love

F2EF3C6A-76F9-49CE-8007-BDA65F8081DE

Celebrating Walt Whitman’s 200th with homemade pizza and Auburn Road’s Eidolon wine

 

We walk after

seeing my mother

her body dimmed,

no longer so electric

but still pulsing light

 

generates the warmth

the air, the sky

on a beautiful spring

we eat outside

where souls once gathered

celebrating god and man

and new beginnings

(blinks of time)

 

the ghosts gather

telling the story

over and over

knowing how it begins,

never knowing how it ends

 

the play begins with ashes

that later return

but remember the rain scene

(that rain scene!)

that glorious love

passionate and innocent

that shocked—

indecent they said,

that play, and this play

about it–

this love song to Yiddish theater,

to theater,

to the light within us

to memory

to time

 

so relevant the themes again

immigrants demonized,

and we more polarized

and there is fear

all around

(like ghosts)

 

twelve more dead,

we shake our heads,

go on with life

(with thoughts and prayers)

but the dead stay dead

and the ghosts whisper,

remember. . .

 

Yet, we create

and generate

(our bodies electric)

music,

art, and poetry

channeling muses

and spirits

remembering

(the rain scene)

the scent of rain

the light through the trees

Sylvia Schreiber, Giverny Sketches

and love–

there is love

all around

 

and friendships

that stay true

through births and deaths

generating

regenerating

remembering

this moment

to the next

IMG_2997

always how it begins,

but never how it ends–

the lights go down,

the lights come again,

the ashes fall,

the ghosts whisper,

remember this moment,

remember this

 

It was a busy weekend: another mass shooting, a celebration, visiting my mom, seeing Indecent at the Arden (I love this play), walks, a bridal shower. We also saw Book of Mormon, the Broadway touring company, but I couldn’t fit that in. We’ve seen it before, and it enjoyed seeing it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theories of Clouds and Time

512px-Caspar_David_Friedrich_054

Caspar David Friedrich, “Drifting Clouds,”[Public Domain], Wikipedia Commons

Once I looked up at the night sky

and watched the clouds flying

 

like time

on feathered wings,

 

I flew along,

eager for what it’d bring,

 

asking why–

finding when

 

happens then

again, and time the thing

 

like clouds

that drifts up, away, sighing.

 

Taking a work break! This is a quadrille for De’s prompt on dVerse using the word “up,” and for my dVerse prompt on theories.

And some music, Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”–from her Clouds album.