Glancing Back

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, The Muse History, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Coy Clio,
with half-smile and backward glance,
her stance unsecured–
she balances time and chance.
Reflected in the glass,
her image wavers, not quite straight,
always moving, she knocks down Fate.
She leaves her scent in dusty tombs,
and book-filled rooms, and there within
a musty cell, a faded ledger in a bin.
There are cries from eras long forgotten,
she sighs through silk and ships of cotton,
whispers through graveyards and dockets, ill-gotten
gains and weathered remains of centuries, unexplained.
Ask her for enlightenment, not for glory,
still she replies there are many untold stories–
look at the monuments, partly erased, salted
and wind-kissed, the lines spaced
unevenly in past’s embrace.
And here, a doll, a letter, a locket
that falls from a red-splattered pocket—
love and connections, a mystery,
blood-drenched fields, the history.

This is in response to Ingrid’s dVerse prompt this week to write a poem invoking a muse. Some of you know I have a history book chapter that I need to finish writing (like now), so perhaps a poem about Clio, the muse of history will help. I’m posting this for today’s dVerse Live Open Link Night.

We Measure Time

Monday Morning Musings:

We measure time in sunglow and moon-sighs,
in the numbers of hellos, goodbyes–
and we do it again.

We measure time in heartbeats,
the food we eat,
the hours spent with friends,

our hair greying,
our shadows growing
as wine in summer glows, easygoing

like a lazy river flowing
the memories growing—
love, family, companions—

Kayaker seen from Martine’s. Delaware River at New Hope, Bucks County, PA

Do you remember? I say,
that time, this day?
We celebrate the decades gone

and hope that more remain,
though nothing stays the same.
Still, the sun glows, the moon sighs,

hello, goodbye. Love moves through phases,
so do I. Waxing, waning, silver, gold, while the sun blazes
I might seem cold,

but I’ll still shine while you grow old.
So, measure time in love you hold
folded gently, held within–every story told.

Schuylkill River near the Water Works.
By the Schuylkill River, June 2021

We celebrated our wedding anniversary by walking through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve in Bucks County, PA, and then having a delightful lunch at Martine’s Riverhouse in New Hope. We walked through the town a bit, and then walked along the canal path. We couldn’t have ordered a more beautiful day. Earlier in the week, we enjoyed wine with dear friends at William Heritage Winery. On Saturday, we visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the first time since the pandemic, and then walked along the Schuylkill River. It rained, and then got steamy. For dinner that night, we opened some champagne and ate Indian food from Spice Affair Indian Cuisine in Swedesboro. Then ate leftovers the next night.

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
Canal Path, New Hope
Schuylkill River in the Rain, June 26, 2021

Schuylkill Timeline by Jonathan Laidacker— Mural Arts


Merril’s Movie Club: We re-watched the movie About Time (2013). It’s on Netflix. I’m not especially into romantic comedies, but this one is delightful. There’s time travel, family, and searching for love. I will watch almost anything with Bill Nighy, and the father-son scenes are especially touching and funny.

Is it?

Monday Morning Musings:

Early Morning Sun on the Delaware River, West Deptford, NJ. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Is it in my blood
to see the color and the light?
To find delight in dappled ground,
cerulean sky, and honeyed beams
spread all around?

A beautiful spring morning, Delaware River. ©️Merril D. Smith

To take some of that and this,
and make a dish, a story, art—
to lose my heart in joy, or fear
being apart, and sail
aboard an anxious ship on
shadowed seas, yet sing the songs
of moon and stars?

I wish I could know—
the ones who came before—
when in living with the making do,
was there room for questioning and for beauty, too?

Did they sigh at rippled water, and see within
the upside-down,
and all around, the spirits, shadows, flowers, trees—
the families?

We gather bits of ours—in hummingbird hover
midway between here and there,
under a clouded-feather sky,
ask what if we did, ask what if we didn’t, and wonder why—
but there are no answers, no words for what might have been,
only recalling what was—her laugh, the words she said—
and what is–here, now, us–a thread,

connecting yesterday, today, tomorrow–joys and sorrow,

we wait to see what the future brings, heart-sung, our wishes fly, bird-winged on our sighs.

I consulted the Oracle, and she gave me the phrase, “It is in my blood,” so I went with that. I’ve been thinking of my ancestors lately. In my grandparents’ generation, I know of artists and musicians, but art and music were not considered things one should do as a career. Slowly, we’re emerging from our Covid cocoon. We saw our daughter on Friday, and my sisters yesterday. We forgot to get a picture to mark the occasion, so we’ll have to do it again. The photo of my mom showed-up in my FB memories.

Measuring

Monday Morning Musings:

Early Morning, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Measure by measure—

in hope and despair
from winter bare to sun-charged air

we smile through tears
with spirits brightened, but still the fears

of what comes next?
Another crisis, another text

of sorrow or disaster.
Can we master

moving from the passing of this year?
Too many lost, but we’re still here–

and so, we live as we’re able,
finally meet across a table

to eat and laugh, while those who’ve passed
remain within our memories, clasped

in synapsed snapshots, held fast,
until all is faded, at last,

everything balanced, a measure
of sadness, a finding of treasure

in the remembrance of what she said,
those words, like a thread

linking us, a connection
a form of resurrection

in “do you remember?” Phrases bright—
like the promise, with shadows, there’s light.

Ripples. One Year. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

April is a strange month all over, it seems—one day cold, one day warm, full of storms, and also flowers. A bunch of tulips that we didn’t plant have popped up in our garden.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my mother’s death. Now that we’ve all been vaccinated, we went to our younger daughter and son-in-law’s house—and for the first time in over a year, hugged and ate inside. She made us a tapas feast, and I baked a chocolate cake in my mom’s memory.

My husband and I both got haircuts for the first time in over a year, too. Woo hoo! We celebrated with a date night at home and streamed the excellent production of the Lantern Theater’s production of Measure for Measure. It was a filmed production from a few years ago. The play is very timely. We watched the movie, Promising Young Woman, (rental from Amazon), which my husband and I both enjoyed and thought was very good—great acting, direction, and soundtrack. Both play and movie will inspire discussion.

Magic Comes: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 12

Magic often comes unseen,
in midnight sky, a sparkling flash,
on morning beach, a treasure stash—
a seabird message left for you
in colored stones of ocean hue.

Magic often comes unexpected,
a wish upon a star, synchronicity, chance,
or perhaps more than happenstance—
that needed doggy grin, the outstretched hand—
none of it planned,

nature and nurture, combined, entwined—
reactions or fate? Other realms or in-between,
ensorcellment in the glimmering sheen—
the magic, unexpected, unseen, and seen.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 12. There were only two works of art today, and my poem is inspired by both of them. You see read the other poems here.

Rising, Setting, Rising

Monday Morning Musings:

Sun rising, moonset
another day to fret

we can’t forget
ever, not yet,

the agitation in the nation–
whatever the frustrations–

instigators and insurrectionists,
racists, and white supremacists,

in armed rebellion to overthrow–
it really happened—and they must go.

They should be tried for their crimes—
spreading lies, hate, violence, and plagues—sad times

for our country, for the world, I cry
for us all, for those who’ve been lost—the wind sighs

with their ghosts. This is not who we are, some say,
yes, it is, but we can find another way.

Some will always be lost to hate,
leave them to their fate. Deflate

what is possible, build from the ashes, anew.
See there—the sun rises–golden beams reflect on blue,

in rosy haze, the geese take wing, then land—
and like them, I hope we can have and stand,

with leaders who try to serve
the many, not themselves only—preserve

out of many, one—come together, the sun rising, just begun.

Sunrise over the Delaware River, Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I’m sure everyone knows what happened this past Wednesday—insurrectionists, incited by President 45, attempted to overthrow the U.S. government. He, the GOP lawmakers who supported him, and those who engaged in sedition should be arrested, removed from office and jobs, and tried. In addition to hate and sedition, they also most likely spread Covid. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Rising Sun chair. It’s the chair George Washington sat in while presiding over the sessions of the Constitutional convention. James Madison later wrote that Benjamin Franklin said of the chair, “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I… know that it is a rising…sun.” You can see the chair here.

I also thought of how thousands, including me, have marched in peaceful protests.

Merril’s Movie Club: Last night we watched Elizabeth is Missing, which features an outstanding performance by Glenda Jackson. It was shown in the U.S. on Masterpiece. Some may not wish to see it because Jackson portrays a woman with Alzheimer’s. It was somewhat upsetting to me in that it made me think of my mom. At the same time, the movie and her portrayal are so accurate and sympathetic, that I felt myself thinking that’s how it must have been for my mom—except that she was nearly blind and far less mobile than Jackson’s character. The story, however, is about Jackson’s character solving two mysteries. The present-day disappearance of her friend, and the decades-old disappearance of her sister.
We’re about to start Season 2 of Occupied (Netflix). Season 1 of this Norwegian series was excellent and exciting. I also finished Bridgerton (Netflix). I probably don’t have to say anything about that. Binge and swoon. (But if you don’t know anything about it, it’s a period piece and a Shonda Rhimes production. My daughter described it as Jane Austen with sex.)

Creation

“Listen,” by Catrin Welz-Stein

She is ever young and ancient, too,
mistress, mother, destroyer, divine,
she births the world, but burrows, then weeps
in cold blood darkness, and there she sleeps–

and when she dreams, the flowers bloom
on roots, warm-spun from her honeyed hair,
and ladybugs skitter, scatter, fly
beneath sun-kissed clouds and azure sky.

She is woman, goddess, earth’s true love,
diamond-eyed, rose and chocolate-scented
breast-achy, she nurses–but then sighs–
all that comes, goes, all that lives, yet dies.

An ekphrastic poem for dVerse, where Lillian is hosting and received permission from artist Catrin Welz-Stein to post four images of her work. We are permitted to choose only one of these four images to use as springboard for poetic fancy.

Flickering

Glow  (July 2020)

A field of grass by an ugly gravel parking lot, transformed by sunlight. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

 

Light

comes, goes,

so it flows

to earth and sea,

flaming grassy meadows,

with photons streaming, gilds a tree.

Though shadows loom below, we let them be;

pretend we do not see the coming of the night,

but live, walk, talk—and love, the apogee

of our beings—humanity

with stardust traces glows

but faintly—see?

The flickers

dim. . .grow

bright.

 

This is a diatelle for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. This week she wrote:

“Let’s make this challenge truly a poet’s choice! Use any syllabic poetry form that you’d like. As long as there are syllables to count, you’re good to go! Be creative. If your form is something new, teach us how to write it. Have fun!”

I know she doesn’t normally do rhyming forms, but this is definitely syllabic, and I know Colleen likes shapes, so I hope this is OK. 😀 Mine can probably use some more work, but I’m posting it anyway.


I found the form, created by Bradley Vrooman, on Shadow Poetry.  

“The Diatelle is a fun, syllable counting form like the etheree with a twist. The syllable structure of the diatelle is as follows: 1/2/3/4/6/8/10/12/10/8/6/4/3/2/1, but unlike an ethere, has a set rhyme pattern of abbcbccaccbcbba. This poetry form may be written on any subject matter and looks best center aligned in a diamond shape.”

Maybe everyone does this, but if not, maybe it’s helpful to see. I made myself a template to keep track of syllable/lines and rhymes. I do this for many forms.

a1 Light

b2 comes, goes

b3 so it flows

c4 to earth and sea

b6 flaming grassy meadows–

c8 with photons streaming, gild a tree

c10 though shadows loom below, we let them be,

a12 pretend we do not see the coming of the night

c10 but live, walk, talk–and love, the apogee

c8 of our beings–humanity

b6 with stardust traces glows

c4 but faintly—see?

b3 The flickers

b2 dim, grow

a1 bright.

Wishes

512px-Winslow_Homer_-_Moonlight,_Wood_Island_Light

 

From the sea, she walks ashore, seal-skin slips

from her body–she stands now unadorned–

shimmering hair unbound and flowing,

dulse-laced and glowing, she whips

it ‘round like armor. Girded thus, the sea foresworn

yet she lingers, soul unsure, not quite captured

by the sunlight, body gleaming, hair sheened by salt-sea blowing,

directed then by lover’s shouts, she turns, enraptured.

 

But rapture does not last, not when the sea sighs and calls

in waves that beckon with infinite ebbs and flows

with subaqueous whispers from afar–

till finally, she must flee the confining walls,

let loose her hair and shed her clothes

to rush upon the sea-kissed sand,

fur-pelt in hand, she makes one wish upon a star,

and embraces the sea, abandons land.

 

For De’s prompt at dVerse on mermaids and selkies. I rewrote a poem I did a while ago for one of Jane’s prompts and added a second stanza. I kept the rhyme scheme, but didn’t quite follow the rest for a san san poem. So, here goes—no minimalism here, this one’s unabashedly romantic.

 

 

 

 

 

Mockingbird, NaPoWriMo 2020, Day 30

512px-Mocking_Bird_(Audubon)

 

Every year–

I wait for spring

to hear again

the mockingbird sing–

the effort he exerts—

that brings to me such pleasure.

 

Now hear the sound of robins, cardinals, jays,

all of their phrases within his song

so long, and repeated with such power,

calling from above the flowers

as he perches in a tree.

 

See—he struts,

with wings outstretched

he flaunts his stuff—

 

but it’s his voice that floats

above the pink-petaled rain,

he’s sustained

by hope–or desperation–

the sound

goes ‘round and round

through the midnight hours

 

singing with so much might

he summons dawn’s light—

 

and still he sings

into the after.

 

So. . .many of you know I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, and I stopped participating in this year’s NaPoWriMo and other prompts. But, here’s one on-prompt for the last day of NaPoWriMo to write a poem about something that returns. I felt like doing a bit of rhyme.

I’m also linking it to Open Link Night at dVerse, where Kim is hosting and notes “we are listening.”

 

 

 

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