Hope Rises and Falls, Like Us All: NaPoWriMo, Day 2

Monday Morning Musings:

“Remember only that I was innocent
and, just like you, mortal on that day,
I, too, had a face marked by rage, by pity and joy,
quite simply, a human face!”

From “Exodus,” by Benjamin Fondane, murdered at Auschwitz in 1944

“But where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, June 6, 1944, written after Anne hears the news about D Day.

“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty will end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, July 15, 1944

 

This Passover—at least at the start,

my husband and I dine alone–

we’re on our own

for this Seder

(apart from the cats,

who join us later).

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It’s been a strange week of that and this

things not quite right, a bit amiss–

the whole afternoon at the doctor for my mother’s hand

in a city office

(the building still grand)

 

I look at my hands

starting to look like my mom’s

when did this change begin of fingers and palms–

these strange hands turned from mine to others

how did they become so much like my mother’s?

 

The weather turns from cool to warm

but still I feel the coming thunder, the storm—

I read about a French woman who survived hate and the camps,

stabbed by her neighbor to whom she showed only kindness–

but he was caught up in blindness

(of the soul)

if that is how we can characterize it all—

this hatred or fear,

we should remember her

not him,

Mireille Knoll,

for whom the bell finally tolled.

 

This climate of fear

seems to grow daily

the president goes on another Twitter rant

and I just can’t–

listen to him (sniff sniff) speak or chant

transplant

fiction in his supporters’ brains

(enough of them still remain)–

where and when does it end,

will it ever stop,

the firing of the latest shot,

the hate, the finding of scapegoats to label

the fear of the intelligent and able?

There’s fear in the air,

but does fear rise above hope?

Which is denser, which one floats?

 

We see a performance, a play

people forced together, every day

having to live in close quarters

annoying each other, parents, strangers, daughters,

dependent upon friends for food—

for everything

never permitted to go out

or glance through a window—or shout–

forced to be silent all day—

even chatterbox Anne must sit still and stay,

but she finds a way,

observing and recording

in her diary she writes,

somehow hope rising above despair

as if she’s gathered it from the air

“Think of beauty,” she writes,

and

“I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Her writing, an art,

though she’s doing her own part

for the war effort, for after, for when life re-starts,

revising her words for the novel she hopes will one day be—

when the war is over—when they’re all free—

We know watching, that it is not to be,

and yet, still, I hope for a different ending,

one that ends without sending

them off in cattle cars to the East

to be treated worse than beasts

to die hungry, filthy, covered with lice,

wonder why she and others had to pay such a price—

would she then have written what she did–

as she slid

as if down a well

from hiding into Hell?

 

We celebrate miracles, the Exodus,

I’m not religious, but the history of us

of pogroms and hate at this time—

the crimes—

make me honor those who came before me

and who were not free

to celebrate or see—

here now–

a day of sun and clouds,

voices talking out loud,

the daffodils in bloom,

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I hope they don’t disappear too soon.

Then a rainbow appears way up high

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It seems magical, and though I’m cynical,

perhaps it is a Passover miracle,

whatever, it’s beautiful, I think,

and so, we eat matzah and drink

(more wine)

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Passover Walnut Cake

and before desert, the full moon appears to hum in the sky–

filling me with wonder and whys

 

The human face,

if we could only see it

instead of looking at a space

feel—seek out!– the pity and the joy

but instead, we destroy.

Fifty years ago, this week, a man was killed

perhaps from him, some hope was spilled

“I have a dream,” he said,

but before long, he was dead.

He urged others onward in the fight

for justice, for light.

Anne Frank, a young girl, also died

her family, too, only her father survived.

she wanted to be remembered, a famous writer

and so, she is, with life gone and so much missed.

I don’t know that our future looks any brighter,

(Do you hear it? The wind carries their cries.)

and yet. . .when I look up at the sky

I still see the stars and moon, and then I sigh,

hoping their dreams will never die.

 

We saw, The Diary of Anne Frank at People’s Light in Malvern, PA. 

This is Na/GloPoWriMo, Day 2.  The prompt was to play with voice, but well, these are my musings.  🙂

 

 

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In Turbulent Times, Look for Magic

Storms rage,

we vanish from the stage,

fires flash and burn

destruction comes at every turn

(Is it ever thus–

what, oh what, is wrong with us?)

in wind and water rising

in troubles of our own devising,

storms rage

 

But which is more powerful,

love or hate?

Do we build to then negate?

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”

Does the urn remain

when all is lost to rains

or flames?

When we’re destroyed by fear and greed

and people lost we cannot feed

beauty vanishes from past ages,

and still the storm rages

and rages

 

We hope then,

we long to see

what is and what might be

that magic gently comes

without fanfare, fifes, and drums

in soaring rainbows

in poetry and prose

in all that beguiles

in smiles

or baby’s laughter

(and how we laugh after)

ephemeral and fleeting

but etched upon our hearts,

(still beating)

the humming moon, the singing stars–

forget the wars

remember love,

and cooing of the peaceful dove,

or build the walls

and watch them fall

while the storm rages

and rages–

turn now the pages–

look for the helpers in turbulent times,

search for truth and beauty, magic and rhymes

Rainbow, National Park, NJ

 

A late entry for Tuesday’s dVerse hosted by Paul. He’s asked us to write about magic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry in a Storm: Magnetic Poetry

 

 

Storm Clouds Rolling In, National Park, NJ

Above aches

a black storm,

a live delirious show,

the wind heaves sea spray,

and less frantic, sleeps

 

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Summer blossoms bright

after rain, vivid color

poetry grows wild

like love shining through the night,

rooted here, behold Eden

 

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Rainbow, National Park, NJ

Yesterday was such a weird day–work, political stuff,  and the world generally. Then late in the day, we watched the storm clouds roll in, followed by a weird golden sky–and a rainbow. I decided to consult the Oracle, who told it like it was, and even gave me a tanka.

 

© Merril D. Smith, 2017

Summer Storm: Haibun

From a dream world I’m summoned back, awakened by a boom and a crash. A flash of light illuminates the room through the window shades. My cat rises, ears up, but he remains by my side. Seeking comfort or giving it? Lovely petrichor drifts in through the windows left open from the summer day. Then boom, crash, flash, and the rain comes down in a rushing torrent, like a waterfall from the sky. I listen to it, feeling like the world below me might flood, and my bed become a ship that sails me, not into dreams, but into a murky river. I lie there in the dark, counting “one Mississippi, two Mississippi” each time the thunder roars. Finally, it is over, and I sleep, dreaming of oceans and sandy beaches. I wake to the mockingbird’s song, and a day that is washed clean. Hope sparkles in the morning sun.

 

Spirits rage at night

crash and bang till washed away

in wonder, joy reigns

 

Nikolay_Dubovskoy_Raduga

Nikolay Nikanorovich Dubovskoy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is late entry for for dVerse. 

I guess it’s a summer memory now, since it happened a couple of days ago. 🙂

 

Cries and Sunshine: Magnetic Poetry

I felt the need to consult The Oracle today.

 

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From an enormous fiddle

a delirious cry,

stormy music.

We live in a black mist,

stop.

 

But then she gave me something a bit more hopeful.

 

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drunk,

frantic,

but sleep,

ask of beauty–

sky sings and sun red on rocks,

there we soar,

you

I,

us

 

storm_and_rainbow_symbol_for_near_end_of_war_1918_art-iwmart17055

By Kenner, George, Storm and Rainbow, Symbol for Near the End of WWI, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Red Tree: Microfiction

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Virginia Sterrett (Old French Fairy Tales (1920)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Dove was tired of rules telling her how to dress, how to behave, how to think. She tore off the black cloak that covered her from head to ankle and threw it to the ground. She took the pins from her hair and let the breeze toss about her long, golden brown curls. She removed her shoes to feel the grass, slightly damp, on her bare feet. Then she walked to the red tree with its fruit of many colors, and defying the laws of her people, she picked a purple one and took a bite. She didn’t die; she didn’t feel any ill effects at all. In fact, the forbidden fruit was delicious. She continued to munch on it as she strolled home, ignoring the gasps and murmured prayers of the people she encountered.

Within an hour, the council summoned her. Though her parents begged for leniency, Dove was unrepentant, and the council banished her from the village. She hugged her parents and left her homeland.

She walked for days and nights until her food was gone. Wrapping herself in the hated cloak, she cried herself to sleep. In the morning, she woke to see the bright, rosy-pink dawn, and she was filled with hope that something good would happen that day.

She brushed the dirt from her clothing and continued her journey. Before long, she came to a town. As she approached it, she heard the most glorious sound.  She stopped a woman and asked her what the sound was.

“It’s the town choir,” the woman said. “Come, I’ll show you.”

The woman took Dove to the town hall. There Dove saw that the sound—music—came from a group of men, women, and children dressed in colorful garments.

That is how a rainbow must sound, thought Dove.

In time, Dove discovered that she had a voice, too. All she had to do, was open her mouth and let it out.

This was the first of many discoveries Dove made. She soon realized that the people of her homeland were not protected, they were trapped there by their ignorance and fear. She took a new name, Violette, for the purple fruit she plucked from the red tree, the fruit that set her on her journey of discovery and knowledge. Eventually, she fell in love and gave birth to a daughter. They named her Aurora as a reminder that dawn always comes, even after the darkest night.

 

Although I went way above the word count, this fairy tale is for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge.  The prompt was the painting above. I have no idea what old French fairy tale it is actually illustrating.

 

 

 

From Rainbows: Microfiction

 

 

Archip_Iwanowitsch_Kuindshi_009

Arkhip Kuindzhi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

From the weathered porch of the country cottage that had belonged to her grandparents, Astrid sat watching the rain. She loved the scent of rain. Petrichor, she thought, enjoying the sound of the word.

Her mother said Astrid used words to keep people away. Astrid wondered if that was true. She had come to the cottage to sort through her life. Her on-and-off again relationship with another professor was now off, permanently it seemed.

Before the rain began, Astrid had been reading her grandmother’s diary, enjoying her words. She read of her grandmother Elisabeth’s twenty-fifth birthday, a story of love, of an embrace and a pearl necklace.

The rain ended suddenly, as summer storms often do, and a glorious rainbow appeared. As Astrid gazed at the prismed archway, she thought she heard violins playing “Vienna Waltz,” her grandmother’s favorite. Then a couple in old-fashioned formal clothing took form before it, twirling in three-quarter time. The couple danced closer to Astrid; the woman turned and smiled at her. I must be dreaming, Astrid thought as she saw the woman’s face. She heard her grandmother’s voice in her head, “Open your heart and love will find you.” As abruptly as they had appeared, the couple vanished. There was a swirl of light, and Astrid looked down. A pearl lay on the porch floor by her feet, glowing in the rays of the setting sun.

 

This story is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge. The painting above was the prompt. (My husband said, “Interesting how you got this from that.)

You can read Elisabeth’s story here.

Rainbow Challah for a Rainbow Wedding

Monday Morning Musings

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”

– Robert Browning

So this post does not really involve musing, unless you want to think about how wonderful bread is–both to bake and to eat.

As many of you know, my younger daughter got married recently. She had a rainbow themed wedding—planned before the Supreme Court decision–but oh so timely! What a trendsetter, she is. Naturally, I wanted to surprise her and her groom with a rainbow challah. I’m sure that’s the first thing that most people think of when they hear rainbow wedding. If you don’t know, challah is a type of rich, egg bread. At traditional Jewish weddings, which this was not, the bride and groom often cut a challah and distribute it to guests. Since they weren’t going to have a challah at their wedding, I gave it to them the day before the wedding. You know, so they wouldn’t be hungry while getting ready and faint during the ceremony. That’s a thing that could happen, right? (Jewish moms everywhere, “But what if there isn’t enough food?” There must always be plenty of food available at all times in case of emergency.)

I totally stole the idea of rainbow challah from Amy Kritzer of What Jew Wanna Eat

Sorry, not sorry.

If you want a detailed recipe and braiding directions, check out her blog. She has a real food blog. The kind that has real directions and great photos. But keep on reading because I’m fun, and I will kind of sort of tell you how to make it. And provide not very good photos that I take on my iPhone camera. But—here’s the important part–

I made my Aunt Sima’s famous challah recipe. It is famous because I’ve written about it before. Also, it’s delicious.

It’s a great recipe, and if by chance you were to decide to bake two loaves (two batches) before 6 AM when you haven’t even finished your coffee because you want to make sure they get done before your daughter and her wife arrive for your other daughter’s wedding and you still have to clean the house, go to the gym, and work on your page proofs—and well, you might have—perhaps—added too much water to the recipe because it seemed then to need more flour than usual, but you’re not positive if you actually did add too much water.. . .well, IF this ever happened to you, rest assured that the bread will still come out great.

Because mine did.

AND, it looked like this.

Rainbow Challah

Rainbow Challah

Pretty impressive, right?

I used gel food dye. Important tip—wear gloves—well, unless you want your hands to be stained with a variety of colors. But if you want rainbow hands to go with a rainbow themed event? Fine. I will not stand in the way of your art. Otherwise, wear gloves.

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My husband bought me a huge box of these gloves, so now I can make 37 more rainbow challahs before I need to buy more gloves.

Instead of dividing the dough into 3 sections, as usual with this recipe, I divided it into 6.

I know you can see only 5 balls, but there were 6!

I know you can see only 5 balls, but there were 6!

Then I colored each a different color. I couldn’t figure out how to mix in the dye at first, and that took some time. I finally decided to use plastic knives to scoop out a bit of dye and added it to a ball of dough.

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I then kneaded each ball to distribute the dye. Each dough ball was well kneaded by the time I got through adding dye and kneading it. Very well kneaded. The most well kneaded dough I’ve ever made. You will need to use more dye for the darker colors. I then rolled each ball into a rope and braided the 6 ropes. It took so long to add dye and knead each ball that I didn’t really do much of a second rising after I braided the dough. Maybe 10 minutes or so.

Braided dough before baking.

Braided dough before baking.

Then I brushed the braided loaf with the egg yolk glaze and baked. Totally NOT Gluten Free! Stunning, colorful, and delicious!

My Aunt Sima’s World Famous Challah

Makes one large, scrumptious loaf

1¼ cups warm water

1 Package dry yeast

pinch of sugar

–Mix above ingredients, allow to stand and dissolve until frothy.

3 Tbsp. melted butter

3 Thsp. Sugar

1 Tbsp. salt

1 Egg

–Beat above ingredients and add to yeast mixture.

Add enough flour for a stiff dough. [Start with 2 cups and then go from there.] Knead and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled (about 1 hr. to 1 ½ hours). Knead again. Take off 1/3, if you want a “topknot.” Divide the rest of the dough into three sections, then braid the 1/3 and set on top. Or divide dough into 6 sections and braid. (For a round challah, you can braid and then connect the ends so it forms a circle.) Let rise briefly on a greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Coat with a mixture of 1 egg yolk and 1 Tbsp. milk. Sprinkle with poppy and sesame seeds. I usually use both, but didn’t do either for the rainbow version. Bake at 350° until golden brown. You can thump the bottom and it should sound hollow if it’s done.

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