Past and Future, Touched

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”

–Stephen Hawking

she once had

a mortal body

long ago–

or was it?

Unbound by time, she’s unsure

drifting in moonlight. . .


and starlight

and in brightest sun–

it is all

part of her

and she of it. Wandering,

she touches your heart–


you feel it,

a shock, fear–and awe,

but also


for knowledge. Look at the stars–

time and space folding


Embed from Getty Images


This is for dVerse. We were asked to write a shadorma with the prompt “phantom.” I’ve done a series of connecting shadorma stanzas.










Everything is Made of Magic

Monday Morning Musings:

“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”

–Eden Phillpotts (often incorrectly attributed to W.B. Yeats, according to Quote Investigator)

“Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden–in all the places. “

–Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden


In dreams I flit through walls,

through time and space

dream worlds,

where things are and are not what they seem

full of wonders taken as ordinary

magical and real


We go on an outing to see an exhibition,

wander through a gallery on Pennsylvania Impressionism

then on to see Magical and Real.

Henriette Wyeth painted family and flowers,

She survived polio that weakened her right arm,

learned to draw with her left hand,

and paint with her right.

She lied about her age to enter the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

before she was sixteen.

A self-portrait hangs on the wall between two paintings

the main men of her life–

N.C.Wyeth, her father, posed before one of his landscapes

her husband, Peter Hurd,

in front of one of his western landscapes–

father, husband

east and west,

conflicts and tensions in her life and art.

Before marriage the couple had separated–

she feared that marriage would be the end of her artistic career,

he assured it would not,

she also feared being separated from her family.

During their separation,

she turned to fantasy

painting ghostly figures,

a dead girl,

and three women picnicking under the moon.

(And the story of how that painting was rediscovered

and restored is a bit of magic, too.)

The couple reunited and married,

and eventually, unexpectedly,

Wyeth found beauty in the stark landscapes of the west

and in the people who lived and worked there

She paints a final portrait of her husband,

before his mind succumbs to Alzheimer’s

he  is still ruggedly handsome, distinguished,

He had painted pilots, western landscapes,

advertisements, magazine covers, and presidential portraits

and was better-known that she was,

as her Chaddsford studio went to her brother Andrew

who became the better known Wyeth.

Yet she may have been more talented than brother or husband,

she was an artist,

magical and real


Over time,

a jail becomes a museum

Michener Museum jail doors looking out to Fonthill Castle


beside it, a public library

Do the ghosts of the inmates wander there,

through galleries where once there were cells?

A place where bodies were imprisoned

becomes a place where minds are freed

to imagine and express themselves,

another man builds a castle filled with tiles,

crazy whimsy?

glorious fantasy?



It all flows together like time and space,

sometimes crashing

birthing stars,

ending worlds

But in this world,

we create magic

in art, music, poetry, literature, theater–

real buildings

filled with magic


Artists come and go,

but their works live on

feelings put on canvas

carved in bronze, marble, plastic, steel

brush strokes that echo–

Can’t you feel the wind?

Hear the child laugh?

Feel the sea and taste the salt in the air?


magical and real


And our shadows

real and magical

stand side by side

us, but not us,

I see flowers blooming in the snow–

time flowing, circling–

everything is made of magic,

magical and real



We went to the Michener Art Museum, in Doylestown, PA.

The exhibition was Magical and Real: Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd, A Retrospective.

I took some photos, but then I wasn’t certain I was allowed to, so I’m not posting them.

There are also some photos of the paintings in this article.


She Calls the Sea: Magnetic Poetry

I dream—

a singing woman

on a ship–

she shines with diamonds and sea spray

(luscious goddess)

she moans and water soars–

a storm smell winds languidly

over and about,

music of sun, rain, sky

recalling life–

the thousand springs


I didn’t consult the Oracle last week, but she didn’t mind. She seems to know I had a bit of an ocean theme going on this week, and she gave me this one.

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.





Ups and Downs, Time Lost and Found

Monday Morning Musings:

“That you are here—that life exists, and identity;

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”

–Walt Whitman, “Oh Me! Oh Life!”

“There is regret, almost remorse,

For Time long past.”

–Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Time Long Past”



Months ago, in summer weather,

when temperatures were up,

I walked down,

and saw a watch

left on the stairway

of the parking garage,

black band

(digital, no hands)

encircling the red railing, like a wrist.

Was it an object lost, then found?

Or a statement perhaps—we are time bound?

A metaphor, let me expound–

the passing of time

or of us passing while time stands still—

make of this what you will,

but I think of it still.


This has been a strange week

of ups and downs

in life and weather,

one day snow and one day spring

not knowing what the next will bring

the stock market rises and falls

the calls hidden behind the White House walls

(well, what isn’t Twittered

from a president who needs a babysitter!)

life seems so unstable


things I once took for granted,

now it’s arguments and views slanted.


On a cold morning,

I take the train into Philadelphia

the day after The Big Game

and though to me, sports are all the same

still, it’s good to see people happy

sharing, caring,

instead of being mean and snappy.

Walking in the cold

looking at the new and old

I’m anxious about a meeting,

but I feel joy in my heart,

as I suddenly notice, then stop—

to take photos of public art.



During this week of ups and downs

we look for papers to document my mother

(to prove she is not some other)

her existence in black and white upon a page

to prove—at this stage—

she is who she is.

She needs them for government services,

and we are filled with anxiety, nervousness

that we will not be able to prove she is who she is—

till we find them in a box

events dated, time stopped

on this day born

on this date married

documents of a life lived and varied,

while time is carried

through ninety-five years

of laughter and tears–

the ups and downs of joy and fears.


We go to a movie about verbal abuse and life,

men insulted, but they’ve lived in strife

and though one claims he does what he does

not for himself, but for his child and wife,

it is all about him

(as it always is,

women learn to live with this

the catcalls, the taunts, even physical abuse

now suddenly, in the news).

We learn that both men are more than who they seem

at first

(as are we all)

both have nursed

fears and sorrows,

have wanted better tomorrows,

and though the film takes place in Lebanon

there are universal feelings and issues that we understand

and may or may not agree upon–

house repairs, urban renewal, and immigrants—

the costs of war—

there is more,

as up and down,

the movie becomes a courtroom drama—

with family issues—and if not karma,

then resolution, of a sort.


From there we go to taste wine

paired with chocolate

anticipating Valentine’s

we sip, and smile, and feel fine

(understand, it’s not just the wine).

All who pour

smile, as if it’s not a chore,

a woman says her mother knows my husband

her brother is at the other table,

We leave them tips

because we’re able

and life goes up and down, unstable.

Then we buy chocolate and wine to have later,

perhaps we’ll debate, which is greater—

but only after taken, do I see the watch in the photo—

time’s message of  then or when,

And I wonder again. . .


In the night, I dream

of finding blue glass and paintings,

in a post-apocalyptic world,

beauty and art–

the message there,

time passes on

through ups and downs–

I take them to share–

contributing my verse.


We saw the movie, The Insult, which is nominated for best foreign film.

We went to William Heritage Winery.

I’m having an issue with WP. It won’t save unless I use the old format editing, so everything seems a bit off. Sigh.












Bound through Time: Haibun

This haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Tanka Tuesday. This week we’re supposed to use synonyms for bond and seek. This is also for dVerse, where Björn is hosting. He has asked us to write about mirrors. I am fascinated by mirrors and art with mirrors.


Jan van Eyck, “The Arnolfini Portrait,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I first see this painting in an art book of my parents that I like to flip through. I am drawn to it and its mysterious, infinite mirror world. The couple looks young. The man’s hat seems too large for him, as though they are playing dress-up. The woman is in an elegant, heavy green gown; her hair is shaped into elaborate “horns” that peek out from her lace-trimmed headdress. She is not pregnant, I learn, merely fashionable. Is this a wedding or an engagement? The artist announces in a bold script above the mirror that he is here–a boast for the ages. He sees everything, but is he also one of the guests reflected in the mirror scene?  Here in this painting, life goes on endlessly through the looking glass, while remaining unchanged. The couple is forever young and forever bound together. I, however, grow older, still looking for answers, though no longer sure of the questions.


Reflections of souls

time-caught hands clasped, now timeless

eternally spring




Journey in Place: Beginning and End

Monday Morning Musings:

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
—Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969. Often misattributed to Hemingway.

 “To light a candle is to cast a shadow.”

–Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea

 “What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. . .

Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph.”

–T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”


It’s a stressful week, we burrow in—

hunker down

in restful verbs and tasty nouns,

lighting candles in the night,

casting shadows against the bright

light and darkness


without one, is the other missed?

FullSizeRender 324

I journey in place

keeping pace

(I hope with grace)

flowing, risking with rhyme and meter,

thinking of a double feature–

perhaps tonight–

traveling without moving

wondering if I’m improving

no matter,

if it’s soothing. . .


to stay in my pajamas

listening to public radio,

interviews with Nathan Lane and Laura Marling,

unsnarling the day’s news with Michel Martin–

mostly disheartening–

I make dough and bake pizzas

enough for us and the shadow figures, too—

of course, wouldn’t you?

I mean, if they should they care to join us,

we’d have enough

and so, we dine,

drink some wine

watch a movie of two families, white and black

see, there’s no going back,

when time moves forward

we go onward,

even while people are wandering

out of place

lost in space–

well, you can take the boy from Mississippi,

but what happens when he returns a man?

People don’t understand

the legacy of poverty and hate,

and racists don’t want to debate

truth seen in a black and white–

it’s easier to fight.


So much to consider,

and some of it makes me bitter,

I think about the six million dead,

those who never got a chance, never fled

wonder if my family’s genes were among them—

hemmed in

forced to live in shadows, in nightmares

or rather, left in there

suffering and forced to die

their cries reverberate

(never abate)

we light a candle in their memory


(never forget)

the sorrow of their journeys,

(remember me)

their souls shout out

but what do my words create–


and what good is an epitaph for them or us—

is what time was forever thus?

Perhaps to foist a new beginning,

or to change the end

when life circles round,

we can start again.



Not watching the movie.


Holocaust Remembrance Day was on Saturday, January 27. We watched the movie, Mudbound, on Netflix.






The Moon’s Smile: Haibun

Another moon poem. This time for dVerse, where Victoria writes, “For our Haibun prompt today, I have chosen the Japanese Kigo, Fuyu No Tsuki—winter moon.”


On New Year’s Eve, I’m feeling stressed, tired, and soul-weary. From my kitchen window, I see the moon rising in the east. It’s almost as brilliant as the pale winter sun, and the sky around it also glows, sapphire blue. I stop to gaze at her–and spellbound, there’s a pause between worlds. For a brief moment, it’s just the moon and me.

In the glimmer of Christmas lights, we eat homemade pizza, drink ruby-red wine, and binge watch a Netflix show. When I wake on New Year’s Day, the day is bitterly cold and diamond-hard, but there is the moon, now lighting the western sky. She smiles at me, and I understand her presence is a New Year’s gift.


Ensorcelling moon–

glowing winter light is grace

smiling in the dark