Ghosts and Questions

Monday Morning Musings:

“Some questions remain long after their owners have died. Lingering like ghosts. Looking for the answers they never found in life.”

–Michael Frayn, Copenhagen

 Bohr: “A curious sort of diary memory is.”

Heisenberg: “You open the pages, and all the neat headings and tidy jottings dissolve around you.”

Bohr: “You step through the pages into the months and days themselves.”

Margrethe: “The past becomes the present inside your head.”

—Michael Frayn, Copenhagen

 

We go to bed with snow on the ground and wake to spring. We step through the door, and into the day.

 

Winter’s ghostly forms

banished by the golden light—

one bloom has opened

We walk down city streets. Here, as we approach Chinatown, sound travels faster than sight, if not light.

We hear the drums and firecrackers, long before we see the lion. We step into the crowd. The lion dance, a centuries-old tradition. The noise of the firecrackers, the constant beating of the drum, and the lion itself will scare away evil spirits. Perhaps the ancestors smile.

 

Lion’s head and tail

sweeps away year’s bad fortune

brings longevity

 

We stop for coffee, and walk and talk, passing nineteenth-century buildings that co-exist with their newer neighbors. I feel the ghosts around us.

 

We step into the theater. We step into time and space. We are in Copenhagen. No, we are sharing the memories of these three: German physicist Werner Heisenberg, his Danish mentor Niels Bohr, and Bohr’s wife, Margrethe with whom he shares everything. We are in some sort of limbo.

 

They are ghosts, perhaps–

well, no longer living–

in this place,

this space

where they try to remember

what was said

and by whom,

recreating a meeting

when Heisenberg, who worked in Nazi Germany

visited Bohrs in occupied Denmark.

Late September, Copenhagen, 1941.

 

We learn about quantum mechanics,

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle,

Bohr’s Complimentary,

nuclear fission,

calculations made and not made,

the Jewish scientists who flee the Nazis,

taking their knowledge to England and the U.S.

(those who are not murdered.

The characters move around the stage,

like electrons,

but who is the nucleus?

That depends on who is telling the story.

Are we each the center of our universe?

But then why can’t we see what others see?

Going through several “drafts” trying to remember

realizing that every moment becomes the past,

looking for answers

to questions that they never asked when they were alive.

 

It is a play about science.

It is a play about morality.

It is a play that asks what is truth?

It is a play that I wish the abomination in the White House

could actually understand.

 

Like Bohrs and Heisenberg, we step outside,

walk and talk,

try to make some sense of the play,

if not the world around us–

 

We drink wine and beer—

celebrate my husband’s birthday—

We discuss the play

We laugh.

We’ve been together a long time.

Sometimes our memories are different.

“I’m afraid you’re wrong, dear.”

“The seasons, they go round and round”

But are we captives of time,

or did we create it?

 

Winter turns to spring,

time travels with light and sound

Do ghosts know the answers?

 

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Maybe they reframe their stories.

living them over,

trying to find the right questions to ask,

but as for us,

we live now–

seeing the beauty in a single bloom,

even as it becomes the past,

and our diaries pages jumble and fade,

it lives on in our memories—somewhere—

perhaps twisting and turning like a Lion Dance–

in time and space.

 

I played around with this, and I suppose it is a sort of Merril Musings Extended Haibun. 🙂  We saw the Lantern Theater Company’s production of Copenhagen. I highly recommend it, but since it was the last performance, you won’t be able to see it.

 

 

 

 

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Nature’s Songs: Haibun Quadrille

This is for the dVerse Monday Quadrille. Victoria has asked us to use the word poem, or some form of the word in a poem of 44 words. Yesterday I heard a robin; today it snowed.

 

Snowy winter mornings are quiet dreamscape poems written on grey and white velvet. But the sun laughs out loud in June–warm, golden verses–and birds sing harmony from yellow-green branches.

 

Trees dusted with snow

hawk hovers, but robin sings

spring will come again

 

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Skeleton Trees: Tanka Tuesday

This is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge. We were supposed to use synonyms for stark and trap. We’ve had several unseasonable warm days, but now it’s getting colder, and the wind is howling.

 

Skeleton trees loom

against skies of violet

owl whistles secrets

caught in winter’s gloomy night

I will seek them in spring’s blooms

 

Georges_Daubner-Paysage_d'hiver_(1921)

Georges Daubner, “Paysage d’hiver,”  via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spots of Color Bloomed

Spots of color bloomed,

there in the mist,

pink and red, surrounded by green

with glistening sheen

life burgeoning, not yet entombed

but solidly rooted,

perfectly suited

(like us)

to withstand the rain–

again and again–

but then to greet the sun,

when at last, it comes

drifting down

crowning the day on floating rays

lighting the wings of birds in flight

whisking away the gloom

(the scent of petrichor lingers)

making color, life, and love bloom

 

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My husband planted these yesterday between rain showers. It made me happy when I looked out the window.

For those keeping track,  I needed to take a poetry break.  🙂

Stars and Spring: NaPoWriMo

Spring meander,

goose and gander

sit on their nest

take turns then rest,

lilac scents the air

children play, feet bare

without a care,

each laughing cry

floats to the sky

twinkling bright

in the night,

the goosey pair

now aware

honk and stare,

look with delight

at sparkling light

dancing, giggling in the night

 

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Canada Geese by the Delaware River, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ

 

This is Day 28, NaPoWriMo. We’re asked to write a poem in Skeltonic verse. The form is named for English poet John Skelton (c. 1463 – 21 June 1529). It is also called Tumbling verse.

The Beauty Is: NaPoWriMo

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night –William Shakespeare, Romeo, Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 5

“And the beauty is, when you realize, when you realize, Someone could be looking for a someone like you.” –Adam Guettel, “The Beauty Is” from the musical, The Light in the Piazza  Song here.

“At such moments I don’t think about all the misery, but about the beauty that still remains. This is where Mother and I differ greatly. Her advice in the face of melancholy is “Think about all the suffering in the world and be thankful you’re not part of it.” My advice is: “Go outside, to the country, enjoy the sun and all nature has to offer. Go outside and try to recapture the happiness within yourself; think of all the beauty in yourself and in everything around you and be happy. –Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, March 7, 1944

It’s a rainy Earth day,

the grey skies swaddle pink and white blossoms

Spring, verdant, full of life, thirsty, greedily drinks like a baby,

unselfconscious and we the admiring parents watch her,

she is beautiful, even when she’s a dirty mess.

 

A mother-daughter outing to see Beauty and the Beast,

the theater has reserved seats that we recline in ready for the magic to begin

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My daughter is comfortable in the theater.

 

— the Disney version of the story,

though we’re both impressed by Gaston, more nuanced than his cartoon version,

possibly charming at first in an oafish way

until the true darkness of his soul is revealed,

the mob scenes remind me a bit too much of history and recent events,

mobs inflamed by ignorant narcissists,

it’s happened throughout the ages

it happens now,

but how can I not enjoy a story where the heroine loves books,

a movie that is a shout out to literacy,

and where lovers bond over reading,

Belle reads poetry to the Beast,

he knows a quotation from her favorite play, Romeo and Juliet,

there’s singing and dancing, people and objects,

I had forgotten Audra McDonald was in this movie–

until she sang,

and I didn’t know Dan Stevens had such a fine voice,

(remember that time he was in a little series called Downton Abbey?)

we get a backstory for the Beast (which we both like)

Belle’s backstory is inserted more awkwardly,

Still it is an enjoyable couple of hours of mother and daughter time

And there is more beauty in the day

the beauty is. ..

a bowl of lemons

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not exactly life giving them to us

as going to the store and buying six bags of them

and rather than lemonade, we mix them with vodka to make limoncello

aren’t grownup daughters fun!

(And beautiful?)

So, we grate lemon peel,

the kitchen becomes gloriously lemon-scented,

a Chopin polonaise plays softly in the background,

(her husband’s study music),

we talk, of her girlfriends, of work, of this and that,

my husband has been doing yard work

(it’s not raining that hard, he says),

he sits at the table with us,

their dog chews on his toy,

their cat ventures out to see if it’s dinner time

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Not pleased by the citrus scent

 

When we’re finished, we eat takeout Pakistani food,

my husband and my son-in-law learn

the kind and talkative restaurant owner was educated at Oxford

(perhaps he is a book lover, too?)

And what do I do the next day with leftover lemons?

Make lemon cake, of course!

 

 

It’s beautiful and delicious.

And though there are beasts all around, the beauty is. . .

spending time with people you love,

enjoying good food and wine,

beauty simple and sudden,

striking you, when you look up from your morning coffee

to see the sun dawning over the neighbor’s white dogwood tree

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The photo does not capture how beautiful it was

 

the profound beauty of birth, mixed with blood and pain,

the simple beauty of a smile,

the beauty that is there within the beast,

the beauty is

it surrounds us

the beauty is. . .

in yourself and in everything around you

 

Today is Day 24, NaPoWriMo. We’re asked to write a poem of ekphasis, a poem inspired by a work of art. We’re challenged to base a poem on marginalia of medieval manuscripts. I suppose you could very loosely say I’ve done this, as they are beautiful and filled with beasts. (Such as this one )

Huffington Post summarizes some previous versions of Beauty and the Beast here.

Today is Yom HaShoah ( This year, it’s Sunset, April 23- Sunset April 24), Holocaust Remembrance Day. I wonder what Anne Frank would be writing about now, and if she would still see beauty in the world.

For Earth, For Earth Day: NaPoWriMo

 

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Sweet spring shines

come flower,

bird, and bee,

squirrel over tree,

a secret song,

pure poetry

must grow, thrive

at peace, but knowing

if my blue earth, a sanctuary

is soon through,

we blossom, berry, bough, follow, too

from sacred garden to prairie brown,

how eden leaves

 

 

The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17

By NASA/Apollo 17 crew; taken by either Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Day 22, NaPoWriMo.  The Magnetic Poetry Oracle was true to the prompt. She gave me an Earth Day Georgic Verse.

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Flowers and Cries: NaPoWriMo

I can’t ask where have all the flowers gone,

they’re here for now,

waiting patiently through April showers,

lifting their faces to the sun

like baby chicks in the nest

trusting their parents to feed them,

trusting there is food,

we open the windows to spring breezes,

to birdsong

but the wind sighs

carries the cries,

the children who have died

 

We watch the rain fall,

(blood in the puddles)

the angel of death does not pass over,

but stops, rests awhile,

heedless of petty differences,

all are mortal,

we open our windows

no birdsong,

only twittering and tweets,

as the rooster puffs his chest,

 

it is spring,

but winter darkness falls,

the air carries a foul odor,

gas and genocide,

and the wind sighs

carries the cries

the children who have died

 

My friend says it’s a good day to cook

and so, I make some soup

bake some bread,

chop and stir and knead,

there is food for us,

outside, there are flowers still,

but then I sigh

I hear the cries,

the children who have died

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo, Day 7.  I’m off prompt today.

 

 

 

 

Spring Shadows: NaPoWriMo

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Chincoteague/ Assateague, March 2016

 

Shadows dance beneath bubble clouds,

shimmering ghosts,

twist and skip in the sparkling spring breeze,

jarring my memories–

that melt,

spill,

as dawn,

a balloon whispering of journeys, rises

(on cue)

roses and green leaves open,

unscarred,

breathe,

grin, giggle, and uncurl,

lulling me

 

First poem for this year’s NaPoWriMo.  Instead of today’s prompt, I did a challenge from dVerse and used all of the quadrille prompt words. (I think I got all of them.)

Dance, lull, bubble, grin, melt, shimmer, twist, skip, green, breeze, spill, rose, journey, jar, leaves, open, shadow, cloud, spark, cue, breath(e), scar, curl, whisper, dawn, ghost, giggle, spring, balloon

 

 

The Echo of Mothers’ Cries: #Haibun

 

Demeter_rejoiced,_for_her_daughter_was_by_her_side

Walter Crane [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, from The Story of Greece Told to Boys and Girls by Mary MacGregor (1914)

 

I bid farewell to my husband and our cold, dark home. I walk uphill, placing six pomegranate seeds in my mouth. The burst of tartness on my tongue staves my hunger as I travel from the gloomy shadow world. I exit and taste the honeyed sweetness of the air. Freedom. Gazing at the horizon, I watch the Sun God’s golden steeds pull his chariot above the horizon, trailing coral flames. The day glows with promise.  A robin looks at me quizzically, then lets out a delighted trill.  I am no longer a matron; I am reborn, young, virginal. I answer the robin with a girlish giggle. As I laugh, the grass begins to grow, flowers bloom, and buds appear on the trees. I savor my brief time here. Mother, I am home.

 

Captured, bound, and wed

tethered by hunger and seeds,

Persephone’s fate

ancient Greece, Nigeria

mothers’ cries echo through time

 

My daughter is here. Alive! Her belly is swollen with the seed of her abductor. Her eyes haunted, she gives me a tremulous smile. I open my arms and embrace her–once again.

 

This Haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were light and dark.