At the end of May

At the end of May,

moon-breath clouds linger
as sparrows and robins awaken the sun.

Soon the furnace door will open
and the air will steam,

but now, light and shadow play tag,
and the little deer join the game.
A blue jay referees from a high tree branch

where tattered decorations for the war dead cling
like ghosts

on the river, and time tumbles in the waves
while the surface sparkles with memories.

I wrote this early this morning and shared it with @TopTweetTuesday. I can’t seem to get away from River Ghosts!

This Wondrous Truth

Monday Morning Musings:

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars”
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 31

“Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines”
–Maya Angelou, A Brave and Startling Truth

Venus, just before Sunrise

Not yet dawn, the robins sing
in twinkling tones that answer stars–
light becoming sound,
the call for love all around,

a song that runs through nature
carried in secret whispers of the wind
heard even in fog-obscured morning
a sun-bright melody pinned

to the coming of spring.

Forsythia in the Fog

Am I the river that murmurs,
the breeze the rustles leaves and grass,
the perfect blue of sky, and the white peony clouds
floating past–

My willow, Dock Creek, Old City Philadelphia, US Custom House in the background

I hear their sigh–
I am everything
the bloom of life, the garden’s laughter, the love the flies
on dragonfly wings, gossamer, then gone–

Reflections, Doubletree Hotel, Broad Street, Philadelphia

the flash of mirrored light
the echoed song

the transformation of grape to wine,
that ephemerality that lingers through
the shape of time
the triangles and circles,
the nebulae of cells
the marvel of blooms
that call birds and bees
in colors beyond what we can see—
the echo of an empty room,

the startling truth of us and stars
in mingled dust, brave as a leaf–
the contradiction of belief,
a tangle of shades and sounds–
a wondrous mess, this existence is ours.

We actually went out this past week! We sat outside at a winery on Wednesday.Purim started that night, and I made Hamantaschen, the triangular filled pastries. We went to a Judy Collins concert on Friday night. That day began with dense fog, then turned to bright sunshine, then got cloudy again. We saw a play on Saturday afternoon. It was a play we were supposed to see the previous Saturday—when it was snowing. What a change in a week! It was almost summery as we walked around Old City Philadelphia before the show. March is living up to its reputation.

Concert, play, wedding stalking, and murals and street art for Resa.


Meanwhile, the craziness of the world continues. The concert venue, the Scottish Rite auditorium in Collingswood said that vaccination/proof of negative Covid tests were required, but they didn’t check. The ushers were masked, as were we, but most people were not. On the Patco train, masks were required, but we were in the minority wearing ours. At the Philadelphia Arden Theater, however, we had to show our vaccination cards and ID, and remain masked.
The war in Ukraine goes on, and the GOP extremists are still peddling Russian disinformation. Sigh. But spring is beautiful.

Judy Collins was wonderful. She can still sing and write, and she’s gracious and funny. The play Tracking Back, was funny and heartwarming—just what we needed.

Caring, Sharing, Flowing, Going

Monday Morning Musings:

A Cold Morning ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Beneath grey sky, the river rushes
with icy determination,

Choppy water at sunrise on the Delaware River, at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

listen, it calls

and the gulls squawk at intruding clans,
then soar in silvered colony at eagle’s wide-winged span

circling, I watch

for signs of color, signs of spring
secrets buried beneath the snow,

waiting, for light

no candles, just cake,
dinner, and wine, hearts entwined

Birthday Cake for my husband

we paint love
and drink poetry

the days still mostly grey–but getting brighter.

Delaware River at sunrise ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

Merril’s Movie/TV Club:
It’s still a pandemic, and we still haven’t gone anywhere. Since we can’t go anywhere right now, we had a Valentines/Birthday paint date for my husband’s birthday. I ordered it from the Clay Studio in Philadelphia. The package contained acrylic paints and brushes, clay candy dishes, Mod podge, chocolate from Shane’s Confectionary, and a scented candle. We supplied the adult beverages. He put his birthday crown on for our Friday night virtual Shabbas.


It was snowing and sleeting on his birthday, but we got Indian food over the weekend and watched the Netflix movie, I Care a Lot. The movie stars Rosamund Pike, who is excellent as the cool and totally amoral professional guardian. The other actors are equally excellent. The movie is chilling and somewhat terrifying in that it depicts how easily elderly or incapacitated people can have their lives and assets controlled by unscrupulous people. I wasn’t sure if I would like the movie, but as despicable as Pike’s character is, it’s hard to look away.
We also watched a Spanish mystery series on Netflix, The Mess you Leave Behind. It’s a stand-alone series with eight episodes. Raquel takes a teaching post in a small town in Galicia where her husband grew up, and everyone knows everyone, and everyone is called by their first name. She soon begins investigating the circumstances of her predecessor’s death. The series skillfully interweaves the two timelines. We liked the series, even though we laughed at how the teachers in this school only seem to teach one class each.

A typical day

Water Spirit

Sun sparkling on the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Water Spirit

In the blue-light sparkle
I watch the spirit shift
as pin-prick glow, adrift
from the water

arising. She surprises
only me—I see. Why
do I hear a soft sigh—
watered-lips sip–

do not naiads thirst too?
And for knowledge, beauty—
do they weep in duty
quenching the earth?

No answers to questions
unasked. Cloud-masked sun, moon
shine a shimmer-light tune–
and dreams stream on.

–Merril D. Smith, Feb. 2021

This is an attempt at an abhanga (or collection of abhang?) for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday Challenge. The form originated in India, where it was often written as devotional poetry. “It was popular from the 13th thru 17th centuries Marathi Region of India and is described as complex and classic. (poetrymagnumopus.com)”
It is made up of one or more four-line stanzas with syllables, 6-6-6-4. The second and third lines end in a rhyme: abbc. Sometimes there is also an internal rhyme.

This sparkling light on the river looked to me like a female figure coming out of the water.

Ineffable

Monday Morning Musings:

Ineffable,
the word lingers from my dream
almost visible–

how to describe
the dream state,
a word floats in the air—

almost visible,
liminal,
the world of in-between.

Ineffable,
the world today,
inconceivable

that we let it happen—
the naked emperor rules,
the fools see what they want to see

despite fire, plague
the flaming hate
and the ceaseless lies

rekindling the blood libel,
as the full moon hums fiercely
in warning, in horror

we look on,
but also,
ineffable

the beauty
of lunar shimmer
and morning glow

of herons
and deer
and the serenity of the river flowing on

carrying ghosts and memories,
in its currents
time bends, reflecting and refracting

the past merges with the future,
till it, too, is ineffable.

I did wake up today with the work ineffable floating in my head. We didn’t go anywhere this week, but historian Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American email today reminded me of all the events that have happened within the past week—”It was only last Sunday– seven days ago– that the New York Times released information about Trump’s taxes. Since then, we’ve lived through Tuesday’s debate and the wildfire spread of coronavirus through the inner circle of the White House, along with other stories that would have crippled any other administration but that now pass by with hardly a ripple.” My morning walks and talking to loved ones is keeping me sane.

We ordered Chinese food this weekend and watched two Merril movies: I’m Thinking of Ending Things (on Netflix) and A White White Day, an Icelandic movie available to rent on Amazon Prime and other platforms. I liked both of them more than my husband did, but they are both movies I’m still thinking about. The actor who plays the main character in A White White Day is so compelling, and his granddaughter is very cute. I’m Thinking of Ending Things, is a Charlie Kaufman film, so if you’ve seen his other movies, you know this will not be straightforward. There’s also a connection to Fargo, the TV show, not the movie. Jessie Buckley who plays the young woman in the movie, is in the new season, and her co-star, Jesse Plemons, was in an earlier season, as was David Thewlis, who plays his father. We’ve watched the first two episodes of the new season of Fargo, which is set in 1960 Kansas City, and we both like it so far.

I’m hosting dVerse today, so I’ll be back later. 😏

Here’s a another blue river shot for Liz.

Boat Slip, Delaware River, West Deptford, NJ ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

Shelter for Dreams

Monday Morning Musings:

Heron at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

Dawn blush lightens the grey
over the rippling river
heron poses in sunrise salutation

in silvered blues
beauty comes
through shadows to light

waves roll out and slide back in
the moon waxes and wanes,
and time flows,

through tide pools
reflecting clouds and light,
giving shelter to dreams.

Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

Today is Yom Kippur, so I’m not going to do a usual MMM post. I don’t want to discuss politics, or even my past week. With so much awfulness in the world–and more likely to come–I felt an especial need for beauty this morning. I was fortunate. As soon as I walked into the park, I saw these two young deer. Then I saw the heron, and the beauty of the sky took my breath away. Magic moments. Wishing some beauty, love, kindness–and magic, too, to all of you in the coming year.