More on Secrets

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Ripples and reflections on the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. Driftwood on the beach.  ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

Monday Morning Musings:

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

–Roald Dahl

 

There’s magic in a flower that suddenly appears

unplanted by a human hand,

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This just appeared one day in our garden one day.

standing alone or scattered

to glow, new stars, comets, meteorites that fall

leaving their imprint for a brief moment

before floating away

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Delaware River at West Deptford, NJ, August 2020 ©️Merril D. Smith

on river currents, secrets of time and ghost whispers drift

on ripples

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A stone toss ripple in the Delaware River. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

endless and infinite–

light that is always there–

 

even if we don’t see it,

like the magic of a flower,

 

the evanescence of a puddle,

a world existing in a moment—

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Puddle Reflection

clouds part and merge again

grey becomes blue becomes grey

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Water Lilies and reflections at rain garden at West Deptford Public Library ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

a mosquito strafes your face, a lone bomber

soon joined by a squadron,

 

the secret out in the open and not pleasant—

but magic moments

 

that you stumble upon,

like a secret path

 

those are wondrous, grace-filled seconds–

blink and you miss the magic,

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Deer Family at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ

but it will come again,

perhaps when you least expect it.

 

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Merril’s Movie Club: We watched the movie Dear Ex (Netflix). It’s a 2018 Taiwanese movie, a domestic comedy-drama about a young man whose deceased father left his insurance benefits to his male lover. I’d give it 3 stars. It was sweet and poignant, once you get to the backstory that explains more about the characters and the secrets they kept or didn’t know about. My dad would have been 101 yesterday. I’m sure he had some secrets that we’ll never know. He did love Chinese food though, so it seems appropriate that we ate it on his birthday eve.

We’re on Season Three of Bordertown. It’s also on Netflix. My husband and I are both really enjoying this show, and we will miss these characters once we’ve finished it. There are the usual gruesome murders and cases (but the show is good at not showing the gore or graphic violence), but we come to really care about Kari Sorjonen and his family and colleagues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Fixed, the Ever Changing Light

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Sun above and below, reflections and shadows on the Delaware River

Monday Morning Musings:

“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.

The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”

–James Baldwin, “Nothing is Fixed,” quoted on Brainpickings, where you can also listen to his words set to music.

 

A constant, the sun rises and sets

to the left of my window in summer, to the right in winter

ever shifting, as we rotate and spin, never fixed

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the light changes, shining through clouds and trees

reflected on rivers and sea

and prismed in a sprinkler’s passage, never fixed

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Sprinkler rainbow and puddle reflection

 

the birds fly, the flowers bloom, fall, drop their sees, and grow again

the snapping turtle’s slow crawl, the gracile deer’s leap into the shadows

they pause, then move, live, then die, never fixed

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Maybe a snapping turtle? I saw him on the side of the road by the river during a morning walk.

 

as the moon moves through her phases,

do you hear her fiercely humming?

Reminding us in silvered streams, never fixed,

 

our stories. We choose to sit or fight

against the dying of the light

to witness gleaming through the cracks, never fixed,

 

forever light comes from stars extinguished

we see it, or we don’t.

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My shadow reflecting–light and shadows

 

This has been a difficult week for the world, though it is also been inspiring in some ways.

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A grown daughter’s childhood companion.

In whatever way you can, speak out, donate, and help others. Here is a short list of things to read, support, and follow

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Just Mercy, which is streaming free (in the U.S) during the month of June. I was afraid it would be a sort of feel good Hollywood movie, but both my husband and I thought it was a good movie with excellent acting. There are additional facts and statistics at the end. We also watched Uncut Gems, which was good in a different way. It’s available on Netflix now.

I’ve written about the musical Ragtime before. It’s one of my favorite musicals, and it seems particularly relevant during this presidency, and right now, the song, “Make Them Hear You” resonates. Here is Ricky the Cat listening to it. (And yes, I may have made him a little bed by my computer.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green and Shadowed

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Monday Morning Musings:

 

“And having, on the other hand,

A flowery, green, bird-singing land.”

–William Henry Davies, “In May”

 

The world grows green and greener

(as many grow mean and meaner),

and baby geese in their downy coats

waddle on the shore, as an older one floats

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down the river, like my dreams

(or so it seems).

Life has changed, and though adorned

in May’s flowery embrace, we’re warned

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of its fragility, shadows with fertility,

reminders that life is fraught, though there may be tranquility–

death comes to all–the lesser and the mighty fall–

and the world turns upside-down, through the wormhole

 

we go into another place,

embrace darkness, or find grace

in doing what is good and right

find the cracks that let in light–

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I looked down a found a bit of magic.

 

and though I see shadows, I walk on

listening for birdsong, watching for dawn.

 

 

I don’t go anywhere anymore, except for walks, where I get a dose of the natural world to counteract the anxiety, fear, and the news of the crazies and the supporters of the horror in the White House. I have to remind of all the good people—my family and friends—and you readers, of course.  I decided to go into the reopened park this morning, but I won’t do that again. There were too many people even at 7:30 AM to make it comfortable for me.  I put on a mask (no one else was wearing one), and then it was difficult to walk quickly and breathe. I left and continued my walk down streets where no one was around, so I could walk without a mask. WP won’t let me upload my masked face photo.

 

No movies this week, we’re binging Star Trek: Discovery.  It’s good to see Star Fleet heroes and people with morals. And I also started watching The Good Fight. I’m reminded how I like all the shows Michelle King and Robert King create: The Good Wife, Brain Dead, Evil—good actors and stories with a touch of quirkiness. Their shows always have wonderful supporting actors, too.

 

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Shadows and reflections.  Thank goodness for this little guy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circles

Puddle Reflection May 2020

Puddle Reflection, May 2020. Upside down world, fleeting or timeless?

 

And after,

do the birds still sing–

the bardo

in-between

past and future, everything

rippling, light circles

 

to before,

the after, before

time begins,

radiant

waves humming—the sound of dreams–

forever’s spindrift.

 

A shadorma sequence for Colleen’s challenge because she admired this photo I took during a morning walk when I got caught in the rain. The challenge theme is “the day after,” chosen by Elizabeth of Tea & Paper. Also, this is Colleen’s 175th poetry challenge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the Storm

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After the storm–a world in a puddle

 

Under

and upside-down,

there is another world

of trees and clouds. A different sun

shimmers,

illuminating this dream-place,

ephemeral, lasting

a brief wind-kiss,

then gone.

 

For today’s NaPoWriMo, Day 9 prompt to write a shape poem. This is a butterfly—two cinquains that are merged into a butterfly shape (but not actually two cinquains). I hope that also works for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenge.

Some people know I’m a bit obsessed with reflections. 😏

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Hidden

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Look up!  Vultures just hanging out. Hidden in plain sight.  National Park, NJ.

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“. . .for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

― George Eliot, Middlemarch

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the stars”

–Walt Whitman, #31 from “Song of Myself”

 

“It may diminish some our dry delight

To wonder if everything we are and do

Lies subject to some little law like that;

Hidden in nature, but not deeply so.”

–from Howard Nemerov, “Figures of Thought”

 

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The sun is hidden behind the clouds,

the images waver through a wet wall,

and the world is dark, dreary, until the charcoal clouds part

through the droplets, a ray of bright hope–

colors arc across the sky,

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and in that magic moment

my spirits lift, not forever, but enough

there, hidden behind the gloom

there is beauty, beneath the sleepy despondency,

there is hope, joy, love.

 

We walk through Old City streets,

bones beneath our feet, hidden

ghosts walk with dry leaf rustle.

We see their reflections

in the end of the year.

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Curtis Center Building, Philadelphia, December 31, 2019.

The year turns, a page reflected

(we reflect)

in the late afternoon sun-glow

as couples take their vows,

beginning a new life

 

We see a movie,

a hidden life,

but reflect upon so many hidden lives

at that time, in this time–

time flows faster

 

towards what?

We travel east,

the sun setting behind us

announcing the year is ending,

a new year about to begin.

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From a Patco train, crossing the Delaware River from Philadelphia to New Jersey. December 31, 2019.

We eat Chinese food,

watch a musical of hidden lives

danced into acceptance

in boots—

kinky boots. Well, why not?

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Why not? And why–

do leaders deny and lie?

foment hate?

The world burns

hidden beneath smoke and rage

 

are flower bulbs,

seeds of hope.

If we destroy the world

perhaps something better will come,

rising over our hidden bones

 

buried, like secrets

of family and history

in tombs sealed and forgotten

someday to be uncovered

to live again

 

perhaps in legend or song.

I find a recording of Yiddish songs

hidden in plain sight in my mother’s bookcase.

She is calmed by old, familiar melodies

as we sort and pack her belongings,

 

much of her past now hidden (treasures)

buried in time, tossed aside in many moves

“I’m reduced to one room,” she says

almost in tears,

saltwater, like the sea

 

from which we sprang,

the work of the stars,

their light and songs carrying us on

Starlight, starbright,

I wish tonight.

 

Hope buried, sometimes found, like that piece of bread that drops into the fondue pot.

Merril’s Movie Club—So many movies; so little time! We saw A Hidden Life, Terrence Malick’s latest. It was beautiful, like all of his movies—and well, you have to accept and go along with the meandering pace. It is based on a true story, and while I admire someone who sticks up for his convictions– and it is difficult not to see present-day parallels—I also was not certain what his objections actually were. At one point, he says he doesn’t know if Hitler is evil. Um, what? And though he suffers for not signing a paper giving allegiance to Hitler, the war does not really seem to touch the beautiful village in the clouds. I liked how the movie showed all the hard work the women do on their farm, but everyone seems well-fed while the war is going on. Yes, this man stood up for his undefined objections, but places were being bombed, people were sent to concentration camps, and other horrors were going on.

Last night we watched I Lost My Body.It’s a French animated film about a severed hand looking for its body. I know that sounds weird and creepy, but it’s surprisingly moving, as we learn about the young man’s life. I never thought I’d be rooting for a hand.

On New Year’s Eve, we watched a Broadway production of the musical Kinky Boots that I had recorded when PBS’s Great Performances ran a few weeks of Broadway shows in November. It’s great fun, and it was perfect for New Year’s Eve. (If you’re a Passport member you can see it.)

We’re almost finished with a Turkish show on Netflix called, The Gift. We’ve enjoyed it—an artist who draws strange symbols teams up with an archeologist to uncover family secrets and legends from the past.

And finally–a shout out to my cousin, David Lesser! His story, Bodies at Rest, was made into a Chinese movie. I don’t know how it will be distributed, but it’s an action movie, set in a morgue in Hong Kong, and it opened an Asian film festival. Trailer here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resting Before Flight: Shadorma Challenge

This is for  the November Shadorma Challenge that Eliot of Along the Interstice is doing. This is Day 18. I am participating sporadically.

 

Birds on a wire

like clouds gathering

for a storm,

or perhaps

like thoughts coming together

resting before flight

 

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I missed the murmuration, but got this quick shot while stopped at a traffic light the other day.

 

Every time I see a bird on a wire, I think of Leonard Cohen’s song. Here’s a live version.