The Always, the Never, the Joy, the Light

IMG_4478Monday Morning Musings:

“For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.”

― James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues”

 

After the dark cloud dances,

a pulsing star kisses the universe—

I open the window,

letting in magic

 

~and all the ifs~

 

awaken,

breathing time, remembering ghosts–

our lives, the brilliant poetry

of always and never

***

We walk through city streets,

a thought comes, retreats

 

a fragment, not yet complete

lost in a beat

 

as I look up to see

the world around me–

 

in the windows the clouds

reflected, ignored by crowds

who pass them by,

ignore the perfect azure of the sky

 

broken with streaks of white

wind-blown, in flight

 

across the blue.

And it’s true,

907C2B22-A0A2-4D04-AD82-884B2608A03B

I think, that beauty is found

in county and town

 

all around us if we look for it.

rove and gaze a bit.

 

And so, time passes—

half-empty or half-filled your glasses?

 

A frantic rush to meet

deadlines, yet greet

 

each day with some joy,

though fate is coy,

 

and accidents will happen

so, we go rushing in when

IMG_4651

it does, to wait and stand by

her eyelid damaged, not her eye,

 

though her story makes no sense,

the consequence

 

of confusion,

of what was, delusion

 

over what she can do–

most likely I’ll be like that, too.

 

We arrive home late at night

to hear an owl, out of sight

 

he whoo whoo whoos,

and if I could choose

 

some magic, that seems right,

perfect, transfused into the night,

 

a bridge of spirits, night to day

with sorrow held at bay

Ben Franklin Bridge

Heading over the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia just before dawn.

we sway with friends

beginnings and ends

 

the power of love, beauty, light

joy and delight

Wedding at Philadelphia Horticultural Center

Wedding at Philadelphia Horticultural Center, Fairmount Park

to share such moments again

and again, to dance, feel romance

 

in the night around us,

and laugh as we discuss

 

how that speech went way too long–

isn’t it time for another song?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, we eat, drink, dance some more,

and yes, my feet are a little sore—

 

but look at that moon, that sky!

she hums so fiercely, why

IMG_4695

don’t we hear or see

enough of the beauty,

 

the light? Our tales are not new,

but they are yet so true

 

and so, told again and again,

every beginning to every end

 

circling round, like our moon

singing an ancient, eternal tune

 

poetry of stars, the always, the never

going on through time. . .forever.

 

Some of you know, I’m finishing a book on sexual harassment. It has to be completed this week, and I’m scrambling. So I apologize for being behind on reading everyone’s posts. Added to this, my mom had an accident Friday evening, and my husband and I were in the ER with her till very late at night. When we got home, there was an owl hooting from some tree in our yard. I’d never heard this before, so I’m convinced it’s one of Jane Dougherty’s owls. Or perhaps the Oracle sent it as a sign of. . .something.  (Great horned owl song here.) We went back to the ER early the next morning, where an eye surgeon glued my mom’s damaged lower eyelid back into place. We’re hoping it will hold, and that she will not need surgery. Saturday night we went to a wedding, the groom is the son of friends, and we got to be with a bunch of our very dear friends for the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope Carried Forward

Monday Morning Musings:

“We can never go back to before.”

–Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, “Back to Before,” Ragtime

“Go out and tell our story

Let it echo far and wide

Make them hear you

Make them hear you”

–Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, “Make Them Hear You,” Ragtime

 

“It’s important to emphasize that hope is only a beginning; it’s not a substitute for action, only a basis for it. “

“The past is set in daylight, and it can become a torch we can carry into the night that is the future.”

—Rebecca Solnit , from Hope in the Dark, quoted in Brainpickings

IMG_4481

I wake from dreams

where before and after merge

the past that never was,

the future that will never be,

where old friends visit a house

that is mine

only in a dream–

and I smile when I wake

because dream-world cats

knock objects from tables, too.

Somehow that makes

everything seem right.

***

 

There are hopes so small

scarcely thoughts at all

 

wishes, feather light

almost out of sight

 

they drift

away so swift–

 

a desire for fair days,

and then we gaze,

 

see beauty in the mist,

buildings lightly kissed

 

by grey, yet they shimmer

even as they’re dimmer

a paradox, perhaps

like seeing in the gaps

IMG_4560

what could be.

And then behind a tree

 

a deer, or two, three,

more you see

than what is here—

hope for what could be.

 

And quiet sanctuaries

where history tarries

Garden at Christ Church, Philadelphia    Merril D. Smith, October 2019

Christ Church Garden, Philadelphia Credit: Merril D. Smith, October 2019

telling the story of before

in church steeples, and old doors

 

steps decorated for fall

historic houses call

but we can never go back to before

even if we try to restore

 

a status quo–

you know

 

there is no time machine

only dreams

where past and future blend,

but it doesn’t have to be the end—

 

we tell our stories

of past glories

 

and of little things

our hopes with wings

IMG_4444

for our children, to bring

the awakening of spring

 

and they will hear you

and we hear, too

 

through mist and dreams

hope beams

 

a light,

a torch in the endless night.

 

Bonus Photo: “my willow.” I think people often dream under it.

IMG_4554

“My” willow, October 2019 At Dock Creek, Old City Philadelphia

We saw Ragtime at the Arden Theatre. It was performed in the round with a minimal set (with the clever use of two pianos and benches), but I loved the intimate aspect, where even though I knew the story, the three groups seemed clearer, as was their desire for their children to have better lives. I think there are many people today who want to go back to an idealized past. Well, that is evident in the campaign slogan used by the current U.S. president. But though I tear up at the musical, it leaves me with a sense of hope.

And, if you’re keeping track, my manuscript for my book on sexual harassment is nearly completed. I’ll be sending in the first five chapters in just a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember

Monday Morning Musings:

“It is the onion, memory,

that makes me cry.”

From Craig Raine, “The Onion”

 

“Music, when soft voices die,

Vibrates in the memory—”

–Percy Bysshe Shelley, from “Music When Soft Voices Die (To. ..)

IMG_4404

the universe born

from a fire dance

with a bang, barging forth,

endless now, eternal,

remembering the almost

and the always

rounding in long, liquid circles

creating time,

but timeless,

yet there it is–

the secret poetry,

of the dawning day,

hints of light in the darkness.

***

Leaves turn scarlet and gold

against the azure blue, so bold

 

 

but as the air turns crisp and cold

and the leaves fall, uncontrolled

 

we remember

IMG_4192

the bright green of trees and grass,

the calls of birds, the way they dance

 

into the slanted light of autumn

 

remember

 

the scent of stew and bread

and the blankets piled upon the bed—

and yet, still I see

the bee

1DCCC42D-1FE0-4435-B3A2-4E9A1909C630

moving from flower to flower

knowing his hours

 

are limited

but uninhibited

 

he flies

and tries–

 

does he remember?

 

(What are the dreams of a bee?)

 

I see the spotted lantern fly,

remember to crush it, say good-bye

 

dead bug, though I feel some remorse

he’s only doing his job, of course–

 

but once, did he remember the air

and sunlight, feel despair?

 

The man in the movie forgets the facts

of his life, he acts

 

on some written instructions,

and we make assumptions

 

connect the dots,

but sometimes, blank spots

 

are filled in with what wasn’t there–

my mom fills these holes in the air

 

with dreams, believes

things that never happened, perceives

 

a different time-line, a reality

of what never was and never will be

 

and so, it goes, we see,

 

and will we remember this

autumn coming, in starts and fits

 

but summer stays, and we sit outside

hide (a bit)

 

from truth, well, who’s to decide

what is right, and what we abide?

 

We smile, drink wine

enjoy the sun, and life is fine

mostly, though we remember

 

autumn comes, and pages turn,

emotions churn, we yearn

 

for things that never were, perhaps

or for our world not to collapse,

City Hall Reflected in a puddle, Merril D. Smith, Philadelphia 2019

City Hall Reflected in a Puddle, Philadelphia

we walk

reflect on the past, talk

of life and a book

and we look

 

observe, that time moves on

and circles back

 

and light comes, sometimes at a slant

or through the cracks,

 

I remember that.

 

We haven’t had a chance to get to the movies (sigh, maybe when this book is done)– but Dale, we did see a good one on Netflix. Remember. Trailer here.  It’s from 2015, but I don’t remember it in the theaters. It’s much better than the synopsis sounds: a man with dementia follows the written instructions of a fellow nursing home resident to hunt down the man who killed their families at Auschwitz. Well, the director is Atom Egoyan, and it stars Christopher Plummer. Certainly not upbeat, but very well-done, a quiet sort of thriller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travelers

IMG_4227

Monday Morning Musings:

 

“My baby takes the morning train

He works from nine till five and then

He takes another home again

To find me waitin’ for him”

Florrie Palmer, “Morning Train (Nine to Five),” (Recorded by Sheena Easton)

 

“Why do you write like you’re writing out of time?”

Lin Manuel Miranda, “Non Stop,” Hamilton

 

“Legacy. What is legacy?

It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”

Miranda, “The World Was Wide Enough,” Hamilton

 

“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”

–Lin Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

 

Blue wind soars

into a day of pink and peach

recall this picture– or forget

how the rhythm of earth

turns grey to dazzling bright,

4FB4E4B3-2397-4BC5-92B2-524DDDF1B3E4

and the magic of a cat

in a long, liquid stretch

with a purr that transfers

burrowing into your soul

IMG_3866

How does it happen—

 

that the light of ghost stars

dances into your morning horizon

and you vow to remember this

 

how it travels

in light years

 

but blink—

and it’s gone.

***

We catch the train

walk a cobblestone lane

 

and past the willow tree

where Hamilton’s bank peeks softly

Willow tree at Dock Creek, Philadelphia

through branches still green

past, present, what might have been

IMG_4221

but here we are

to watch women on trapeze bar

 

climbing silks, twirling on a hoop

they move in the air, dance, swoop

 

in transit, a search

for love, a perch

above offers reflection

(and they are perfection)

 

in strength and skill

traveling without a spill

 

from any apparatus

and those hearts grab us

 

the emotions she carries

with colors that vary

 

red, black and blue

well, we understand, do you?

 

The red given to lovers, the black

weighing her down, from the lack–

 

but friends help with the burden

though life is still uncertain.

 

We so enjoy the show

then it’s time to go

 

past a wedding

heading

 

from where the Founding Fathers’ prayed

bridal party and guests all finely arrayed

IMG_4204

and we walk and people-watch

from a little swatch

 

with drinks and apps

then perhaps

it’s time to walk

and talk

 

down streets and alleys

where people have rallied,

 

where a Revolutionary generation

fought, died, and built a nation–

to reflect on light

as we travel into the night.

IMG_4193

 

We catch the train

the next day—again

 

over the bridge, high

above where boats sail by

Delaware River from Patco train

eat a pre-theater meal

and I’m so excited, I feel

happy to be here

(Hamilton walked near)

 

lucky to be alive right now–

and wow!

the show lives up to every expectation

and anticipation,

 

believe the hype, what they say is true

it’s brilliant through and through.

 

I cry a bit after Philip dies

but laugh and clap, too, and time flies

 

till we’re heading home on the train

again.

 

And though moon peaks from a cloud

humming—not too loud

IMG_4059

Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?

 

I dream of things I don’t understand

of Hamilton, and far off lands

 

of immigrants who get things done–

well, my grandfather was one.

 

But where does a dream go

between slumber and slowed

 

breathing and thinking

thoughts slinking

 

and winking in your mind

till you wake to find

 

the dream’s traveled far

beyond time, and where are

 

they? Where do they go

when they’ve flowed

 

from your brain,

but sometimes appear again?

 

My mother asks if my father’s alive

and I ponder and strive

 

to find a way

to say–

 

cause he died

years ago, not alive

 

but I’m helpless when she insists

and the dreams twists

 

then falls away.

 

So, I write, prose and rhyme

because I’m running out of time

 

planting seeds, a legacy

she’ll never get to see.

IMG_3989

We saw In Transit, a show that’s part of the Philadelphia Fringe line-up this year. We both really enjoyed it, and this group of women of Tangled Movement Art who we’ve seen perform before. They combine theater and circus art. “Morning Train” was a song that was repeated throughout the show. Then, of course we saw Hamilton. The show is a bit of a love song to NYC, but Philadelphia knows Hamilton walked here, too.

I’m delayed today because my computer decided to eat my file, but fortunately, I was able to recover it. Moment. Of. Panic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s Labor

Monday Morning Musings:

“It is summer-gone that I see, it is summer-gone.

The sweet flowers indrying and dying down,

The grasses forgetting their blaze and consenting to brown.”

From Gwendolyn Brooks, “A Sunset in the City” 

 

“Therefore—we do life’s labor—

Though life’s Reward—be done—

With scrupulous exactness—

To hold our Senses—on—”

Emily Dickinson 

A4FB3E8A-AC71-4A90-92BC-F1D17681C155

Dawn comes with a song colored in a blush of dusty pink

whispering secrets

I am light

glowing honey gold

through rose-tinged clouds.

I am sound,

the buzzing drone

of a cicada,

the eager chirping of a sparrow

looking for love.

Look–

Listen–

soon come the shadows

black in the moonlight–

soon comes the silence,

save the skittering of night creatures

over dry brown leaves.

***

It is a week of reflection

abjection and affection

 

glowering grey

and love that stays

653121AB-3D44-427E-9B1F-4E884BAD0A70

true in hue

though the world’s askew.

 

Hurricanes and guns,

the loss daughters and sons

 

to senseless violence

and no defenses

 

do we have for either wind

or fury underpinned

 

by those in power—

but here in a bower

 

a garden of flowers

we sit for hours.

My mother naps

as the sparrow flaps

 

his wings to no avail–

though he chirps and flails

 

the lady sparrow ignores him

as he follows from limb to limb

 

and along the concrete wall

calling, calling to all

 

“I am here,

my beauty, appear!”

 

On this Labor Day weekend

we labor and bend

 

to the inevitable end

of summer and life, we send

 

thoughts outward with the breeze

we tease

 

joy for moments when we can

flowers, family, pets, wine—and

I remember how my mother worked

and didn’t shirk

 

her duty to home or even nation

bucking rivets, no vacation

 

I’m sure, she tells me of a woman there

who stands up for her—the righteous everywhere—

 

when the haters hate

six million dead does not set them straight.

 

Still, she worked all her life

in stores, as mother and wife

 

and after. An aunt worked sewing

and I wonder, not knowing

 

what the factory was like,

and if they ever went on strike,

 

but my mother got to borrow her clothes

and so, it goes

 

she met my father who lives in her dreams–

he lives on in seams

 

stitched with invisible thread

in memories real and false, but we tread

 

lightly because what else can we do–

as we sit under a sky of September blue

 

knowing that autumn is coming,

but the moon will keep humming,

 

and we will labor, love, and play

life beyond us will go on, each day

 

green or barren, this earth

laboring, revolving, giving birth

IMG_4131

to new possibilities, hopes, and fears

in endless cycles over thousands of years.

 

IMG_4059

 

Today is Labor Day here in the U.S.  The Mormon Temple near where my mom lives has a lovely little garden square that is open to the public.  We enjoyed wine and cheese at Tria, where on Sunday’s they offer specials that they call “Sunday School.”  My mom recently told me that a woman defended her when a man or men uttered anti-Semitic slurs at her–while she was working as a “bucker” for riveters during WWII.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evanescence

IMG_1706

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“let us dream of evanescence and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”

― Kakuzō Okakura, The Book of Tea

(Thanks to Beth of I Didn’t Have My Glasses On for this quotation.)

“You can’t see them, but they are there.
Unseen things are still there.”

–from Misuzu Kaneko , “Stars and Dandelions” Read more here.

“Aunt Esther: You think you supposed to know everything. Life is a mystery. Don’t you know life is a mystery? I see you still trying to figure it out. It ain’t all for you to know. It’s all an adventure. That’s all life is. But you got to trust that adventure.”

–August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean

 

Snow, sun, rain

fleeting moments, each a chain

from then to here—

the dust of stars falls near

 

and ghosts appear

though we may not hear—

 

listen! There the rustle, the sigh

spirits or dreams flitting, drifting by?

Temporary, like our days,

so say poets and playwrights in their plays

 

(how do you measure a year?)

 

we take brief moments to watch the story

days of hope, days of glory

 

(one song glory)

 

days of fear and longing,

days to find a sense of belonging

 

to build walls, or tear them down

to visit the City of Bones, surround

 

oneself with people who care

enough to travel through, and share

 

(seasons of love)

 

the adventure, life

through Underground Railroads, and beyond—the strife

 

of being separated from family, husband and wife

and then finding emancipation is still rife

 

with pain, and different chains

two trains running, and from remains

 

of cities and lives, present and past

and so, if asked

 

(What about love?)

 

we take a chance on freedom,

on love, on hope, and try to teach them–

 

our children, lovers, friends—

that such much depends

 

on what we do now

when we allow

 

to linger in each beautiful pause

because

 

our time is limited to

see the unseen, too few

 

moments in a year

 

(Five hundred twenty-five thousand 
Six hundred minutes
)

 

lost to pain, despair, and fear

 

We gather our rosebuds, while we may

Ok. Wrong season, enough to say

 

we walk and talk, and drink some wine

we walk some more, the day is fine

 

we see some plays

then, find more ways

 

(with a thousand sweet kisses)

 

to find some joy, the mystery

of life, the history

9FF5A005-B03B-4865-BCBB-5A0D2F7F0DB3

ours and theirs

so, dance, who cares?

 

It’s an adventure, for real

not always ideal

 

in fact, sometimes awful

perhaps, unlawful

 

But

(No day but today)

 

 

Look! The unseen things are here, there

in earth, moon, stars—everywhere.

IMG_1500

 

We saw August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, a wonderful, stirring, magical play at the Arden Theater. It is part of Wilson’s American Century Cycle, chronically African-American life. This one was one of the last plays he wrote, but it’s the first chronologically in the cycle. It’s set in 1904. We saw Rent, the 20th Anniversary Tour. The parenthetical lines come from Rent songs. Rent is a sort of retelling of La Bohème set in New York during the AIDS crisis. Jonathan Larson (book, music, lyrics) died of an aortic aneurysm a few weeks before the show opened in 1996. We ate at Tria and Monk’s in Philadelphia.

Also, yesterday began Daylight Saving Time, and I hate it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Wish

Monday Morning Musings:

“None of us can change the things we’ve done. But we can all change what we do next.”

— Col. Frederick Lucius Johnson (Chad L. Coleman), The Expanse, Season 1: Critical Mass

 

A celebration not for leaders alive or dead

(and certainly not for one who hasn’t led)

a birthday lunch on Presidents’ Day

where it was light inside, though outside grey,

a changeable week of sun, rain, clouds, and snow

February going fast and slow

confusing my mind and making me too tired

to do what’s required—but in bursts, I am inspired

to work, to create, to navigate

through life—though nothing is straight

as we contemplate past, future, and our fate,

we watch sci-fi and hope there’s more

 

that people heed, not ignore, the ocean,

with its glorious waves and motion.

Here and now, the constant wars, the hate–

I wonder if it’s all too late–

 

but still, we live and love–and cook,

even as we ponder roads we took,

and where they’ve led us, where we are

still above, there, the moon, the morning star

 

So, I bake–homage to heritage, his and mine,

birthday treats–food and life intertwine

memories from childhood, I think his cookies bring,

but mine have chocolate, cinnamon, scents that sing

to me in sensory bliss of crunch, scent, taste

that also trace a path from past—and thicker waist—

but celebrations make us feel good, or so they should,

a time to laugh, love, and remember the good.

IMG_1564

Here’s our family in the car again

remembering journeys of long ago, the rain

tapping on windows and misting about us

as we bring up song snippets to discuss–

 

“Remember that one?” someone queries.

and we’re off discussing songs, or TV series

the things they watched when they were young,

the things they said, the words that were sung

 

by all of us in house and car

as we traveled to places both near and far

the games we played, before tablets or phone–

a different world, and a different tone.

IMG_1574

Over the Cool Bridge (in the rain), to grandmother’s house we go.

 

And now we gather on a February day

when we can be together, if only a short stay

to catch up with one another, share some time

over pizza and cake—this time, no wine.

 

We watch a movie about forgery

a desperate woman, unhappy, too, we see

the movie is also about creation

and discrimination

 

the AIDS crisis and writers’ lives–

as it takes money and time to visit archives—

something I’ve done first hand,

and the rush of finding something grand.

 

But it’s fine, and we’re okay,

here and now on this windy day,

as moon sets and sun rises,

I’m ready for the day’s surprises

 

wondering what fortune brings–

and hoping that without strings

good things come to us all

without deceit, without a wall

 

or barriers to conquer or climb–

a gift of peace within our time.

And so, a birthday wish for those I love,

the song of the moon, the shimmer of stars above.

IMG_1500

 

Our older daughter is visiting us, so we got together for an extended family February birthday celebration–something we haven’t done in a few years. My husband and I are caught up in the sci-fi series The Expanse. It’s on Amazon Prime now. We had seen the first two seasons before, but it’s complicated, so we’re re-watching them. It’s an excellent series. Catching up on movies–we watched Can you Ever Forgive Me? last night. Wonderful performance by Melissa McCarthy and the rest of the cast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trusting Love

Monday Morning Musings:

“Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.”

–James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk

“If you trusted love this far, don’t panic now.”

–James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk

 

In January dreariness, we sit in quiet reflection

still sated from treats of weeks before–

sweet confections—we turn in new directions

for the new year, wondering what for,

 

when the past seems ever with us

old hates reemerge, relished too much by some—

though we hope they’re few—so, we discuss

among our friends, from where does it come–

 

the evil of the past and then the current day?

Why do people flock to listen to the lies?

Though, true, some try hard to find a way

to shine the light before truth dies

img_0936

We all value real news.

 

we watch an Italian film, a fairy tale of sorts

with a man too good, timeless perhaps

as evil recurs, so too, goodness retorts

and yet, while we countdown till the collapse

 

Pizza Night!

Homemade pizza and wine–perfect to go with an Italian movie.

 

of the earth and all we love—

I have to have hope

in seeing the sun and moon above

and beauty in the ordinary, the scope

 

both small and wide, a cat,

the sky, grey clouds parting for sun to set–

and so, we chat, of this and that

of family and life, avoiding the threat—

img_0988

Happy to see some sunshine from my window after a rainy day.

not ready to face it yet–

so, we stroll through city streets

reminded again that truth doesn’t set

but tries again, and sometimes unseats

Philadelphia Murals

those who try to usurp power

and crush the weak or different-skinned,

but those who wield control from mansion or tower

lose it eventually, to vanish in the wind

 

like the one we walk in today

blowing clouds past the sun,

and with its light, some shadows play

upon the streets and walls, till done.

Shadows and Light, January in Philadelphia

Shadows and light.

We watch a movie, where love is strong

despite injustice based on racist thought–

centuries old–though it doesn’t belong,

still we’re caught, fraught, some brought

 

to realize indifference is just as wrong

even while hoping love will find a way

to stay, despite the panic, and headstrong

it can be, still love trumps hate, any day

 

so, it stays. And we walk and talk

as winter sun lowers in the sky

and in the park, the cry of a hawk

the chatter of squirrels, as we pass by

img_0999

then down to the train, and so we go–

home to where we’re blanketed and warm

where there is food and lights aglow,

a shelter in life’s storm.

 

Will love be enough?

We’ll try not to panic now–

there will be rougher stuff

and to time we’ll bow—

 

and yet

and yet

we’re here together now.

img_0982

 

We watched Happy as Lazzaro (on Netflix). Trailer here. It’s a sort of fairy tale, or perhaps an allegory. It’s a beautiful film—one to think about. We also saw If Beale Street Could Talk, based on James Baldwin’s novel. I wasn’t as mesmerized by this as the director’s Moonlight, which simply stunned me, but it was still very good, and all of the actors were excellent. So, Dale–here are two more for you! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_0638

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

IMG_0642

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

IMG_0643

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.

Open the Door to Light

Monday Morning Musings:

 “But no man would sacrifice his honor for the one he loves.”

“It is a thing hundreds of thousands of women have done.”

–Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House

“Concrete and barbed wire, concrete and barbed wire
It’s only made of concrete and barbed wire”

–Lucinda Williams, “Concrete and Barbed Wire”

“The instant passed so fast, and when that happens, it goes for good and all you have is a slow lifetime to speculate on revisions. Except time flows one way and drags us with it no matter how hard we paddle upstream.”

–Charles Frazier, Varina

 

We go to a concert on a rainy night

but the lovely old theater is bright

 

with anticipation, as well as light–

the music after twenty years, still right

 

though some songs take on a different meaning

now, when certain leaders are not so much leaning

 

but rather trampling rights to the ground—

but here, we’re more interested in the sound

 

of the music and the stories that she told

of how her life and memories unfold.

The next day we see a play

a sequel of sorts, though not in the way Ibsen would say

 

(if he did) after the door famously slammed.

So, Nora returns—and

 

she’s done well, but it’s complicated

(of course), and if we’re a bit frustrated

 

by the end result, that may be the intent

to think about what the characters underwent

 

as well as life for women then and marriage vows—

it’s hard to escape the political now.

 

I think of all the women of the past

stuck in marriages, hoping to outlast

 

perhaps the drudgery—or pain—

not much choice, forced to remain.

 

We walk and talk about the play

as the sun lowers on the day

Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia

we see weddings amidst the falling, fallen leaves

where trees and sky form photo eaves

and I hope these couples face no final slamming door

except the one we all must face, till then, I hope they adore

 

one another, forever—and more.

 

But time flows on. . .or perhaps it circles from before. . .

 

I dreamt last night of flying through space

and time flowed, at an unmeasured pace

 

past glowing planets, circling round

bubbling with the sound

 

of joy and laughter—

a dream, real then, if not after.

 

The river flows

and no one knows

The Delaware River, seen from West Deptford, NJ. Merril D. Smith

what the future will bring

even as to the past we cling,

 

or sling, snap, swing, sway

what we can, hope for a day

 

when light shines brightly

kissing the air lightly

 

illuminating gold leaves and blue sky

banishing fear, hate, and all the whys

 

of evil—though this day will never arrive

we can still try to make kindness thrive.

 

In the U.S., we have mid-term elections. I’m hoping the party of hate, fear, and lies, gets sent a clear message that the majority do not want that.