September Says

Mary Hiester Reid, A Garden in September
 

September Says (in memoriam)

it follows, but perhaps it leads—
a season beneath a season,

the after-summer
and before fall tumbles into darkness.

Now shadows dance in spotlights,
and green branches are tipped with gold,

gardens are filled with flowers that know
the secrets of bees–

wisely they shake heads dyed indigo, gold,
and scarlet—it is a bird Eden, a squirrel pantry–

and if the river asks,
you breath in its blue mystery,

taste its layers, as it unfolds time
like a peony, seed to dust again and again.

My poem from the Oracle, who knows everything. She knows how beautiful September is right now in my part of the world. She also must know that yesterday I heard from my cousins that their mother, my aunt (my mother’s sister-in-law) had died the night before. It made me think about how my mom had died in April when the sky was also bright blue, and the spring flowers were blooming. So, this is not exactly a tribute to my aunt—but in her memory, a reflection of sorts on life and death and beauty.

I have more to say about shadows and light

Monday Morning Musings:

Reflections on the river. Red Bank Battlefield

I have more to say about shadows and light and . . .

age-old questions. The chicken or the egg?
The egg, of course. But before that?

Look! A little rainbow in the clouds.

How about light?
It was there before stars, scientists say,
as they inquire and test,
while I’m left—simply pondering

the quantum strings and shades of black-and-white.
How to describe such ancient light
in that time before? Then move on–

have you considered our volcanic existence,
how we erupted from the sea
from stellar grit to ammonite then pinniped? In a blink,
or a flutter

of butterfly’s wing—the randomness, the chaos,
dust to mud,
a hurricane—

where does summer hide when winter’s cold winds blow?

My thoughts are far from towering, I confess,
reflections on riddles, the stuff of dreams—foretell and forget–

a leap into the unknown, but sweep away the cobwebs,
what is left?
Nothing dashing, impressive—more like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole.

But really, where do the fawn’s spots go? How long can a heron stand
so quiet and still?

Sit awhile in on the hill. Do you see?
The way it glows. The way the shadows caress its curves? Do you feel how
the breeze kisses your cheek so tenderly like a mother?

Listen as the river sings the song of what is and what might be.

Now the geese float atop cotton ball clouds in the mirrored blue, sailing
on light, through shadows, into tomorrow—

the place of questions, dreams, and shadows.
But for shadows to exist, there must also be light,
and so again, we begin.

Sunrise over the Delaware River, August

I’m posting early today with something a bit different. I actually wrote most of this yesterday, and I used Jane’s Random Words

We had beautiful weather for the past week. Today it’s very humid with some rain and possible thunderstorms. It feels icky (a precise scientific term) outside right now.

We went to Vino and Vibes at William Heritage Winery with friends on Thursday night. It was a beautiful evening—perfect weather and company (and wine). We’re watching the second season of For all Mankind.

Present in Beauty

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

Present in Beauty

“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.”
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 48

“In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again”
–from “Walking in Beauty”: Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony

Storm Clouds

After the storm

First, a billowy sea of clouds,
then thunder, crash crash crashing–
shock and awe from the heavens,
ending in a hush,
the cat yawns.

History moves on,
I sleep and my hair turns grey.

Now this place, a speck, a blink
in the eye of the universe, does it matter
to the stars or time? Yet
here I walk—beauty before me, and all around.

Heron, deer, and ospreys converge.
The sky is the blue of wishes, the sun an apricot
I can almost taste—like the most luscious wine
I drink-in the daybreak, my soul cool and composed,
I savor this moment, knowing it is evanescent,
a sparkling bubble, no less beautiful
as it passes into memory,
the past another universe, an umbrella
to open for protection, or to cast shade when needed.
Bird-dawn has given way to cricket sunrise,
summer light has slanted—autumn on its way,
I adjust my sight line.

This sunrise! Sunrise over the Delaware.

A late musings today. It’s been a busy week, and I’m finishing some work. I used Jane’s Random Words. We celebrated what would have been my dad’s 103 birthday with Chinese food on Tuesday, and our friends insisted we have a toast to him. (Wonderful friends!) We had more hot and humid weather, then one night with some thunderstorms, and then perfect weather over the weekend. We met our daughter and son-in-law at a new winery on Saturday. Stokelan Winery is a beautiful place. The Stokelan House dates from about 1853. We sat outside. I liked all of the wines, but I didn’t love any of them. Since it’s a new place, they’re still working out some issues. It’s a distance for us to travel, so we probably won’t go back there for a while, but it was still a lovely afternoon.

Toast to Dad and Stokelan Winery

We watched the TV show Dark Winds. It’s based on the series of novels by Tony Hillerman, which take place on Navajo land. It seemed like a good series to watch this week because my dad enjoyed Hillerman’s books. Once my father wrote him a letter, and Mr. Hillerman replied. Although Tony Hillerman was not Native American, much of the cast, the writers, and crew are. A character recites the lines above in the final episode.

Well, Here We Are–it’s August Again

Monday Morning Musings:

Well, Here We Are, It’s August Again

Every day opens with possibility,
every story flows from what if,
each second is a mysterious connection
from what was to what is

Sunrise Clouds

next passes, too, in a stream like
the luscious light of the sun,
outside of time,
both ancient and new

Sunrise Reflections— worlds collide in light and color , Merril D. Smith, 2022

like memories,
the past remembered is reborn,

perhaps re-written, or embroidered upon,
added stitches to a tapestry, patches placed
over the tears in the fabric,

until we can’t tell what was the original
and what was added,

and so, we guess, living between shadows,

and walking down paths
we imagine, we ask, “what if?”
and “what happened next?”

This is fiction and science,
this is every story ever told,
our fates and faults, “not in our stars,”*
and we, not star-crossed—yet,
dependent on them for our existence,

each of us carrying traces of stardust,
holding an infinitesimal speck of before time–
and each of us an answer to what happened next.

Ceres Park
Ceres Park

This past week we had high heat and humidity and normal summer heat with less humidity. Elsewhere there have been huge wildfires and floods. We got a little bit of rain, but not enough.
While we wait to see if our nation is destroyed by authoritarian rule and our Earth dies, we go on living.
My daughter and I visited Kennedy Cellars in Hammonton, NJ for some mother-daughter bonding time. My husband kindly served as DD while we sampled wine flights and nibbled at the delicious cheese board. It was a very hot day, but bearable in the shade, as we really didn’t want to sit inside in the small space with rising Covid numbers.

Kennedy Cellars

On Saturday with the lower humidity my husband and I took a morning walk in Ceres Park in Mantua/Pitman, NJ. It was very quiet and peaceful, except one section of the trail goes under an overpass, but even there the light was beautiful. Then later in the afternoon, we visited Auburn Road Winery for wine and pizza.

Ceres Park

One night this week, we watched a play from our video backlog. It was The Merry Wives, performed last August when plays in Central Park in NYC were permitted again and televised this past spring. Perhaps Shakespeare purists would not approve, but I think it was just what we needed. It was a streamlined version of The Merry Wives of Windsor set in Harlem. Shakespeare’s plays were of the moment and appealed to common people as well as the educated and aristocracy, so I think of this as sort of the same thing. Here’s how it looked. If you have PBS Passport you may still be able to stream it.

We’re also watching For All Mankind (Apple TV), a series based around what if the Soviet Union landed on the Moon first? In this series, it changes history, and each change changes something else.

These two shows gave me the idea for my musings. Also, both of my parents, now gone, were born in August, which has me thinking of August, what was, what is, what might have been. . .

I’m hosting dVerse Haibun Monday today, so I will be back later.

*”The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
–William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Blink, and Look Again

Monday Morning Musings:

Blink, and Look Again

“There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes. . .”
Emily Dickinson,

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant —”
Emily Dickinson

I have more to say about images,
the ones within the ones in frames,
the shadows and reflections,
the dreamworlds
and the in-between

what you see and don’t,
the half-glimpsed, and
the quickly vanished.

Consider the photos
of galaxies beyond, the ghost light we see,
a miracle, amazing, full of color, brighter
than what we’ve ever seen before—

and yet,
it’s a blink from the past,
there’s no way to capture the present,
and hold it tight,

Eagles and Crows at the River

each second flies,
but why do some move so swiftly
on eagle wings,
while others linger,
as bees on flowers–
some burst bright-blossomed,
others fade like the moon
smiling into sunrise clouds,
but most tick past, tiny ants
in the dirt of time.

Quickly, how our babies grow.
Suddenly, how summer skin turns cold.
The green world is dying,
the world is burning and frying,
the grass is crunchy,
the ponds and streams are dry.
We close our windows, turn on the a/c,
say goodbye,
then eat our salads, as so many die.

Life wasn’t simpler before,
we simply didn’t want to know
all the worlds are connected,
the future holds the past.

Who is the woman in the mirror?
What happened to the dark-haired girl?
See my long-legged shadow? A super-hero
in another realm
who bends the light, to see the slant,
in that,
a prism of colors, truth abloom—
perhaps, more than one timeline in this room.

My shadow in the light at Red Bank Battlefield

My readers know I love time, shadows, reflections, and all the in-between things. I’m still thinking about the exhibit we saw Pictures in Pictures,

Self-Portrait in a Dresser Mirror: Cream Hill, 1930, Wanda Gág–Philadelphia Museum of Art

as well as recent movies mentioned in previous posts (Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes and Everything Everywhere All at Once) and then Emily Dickinson popped into my head (as she does) 😏. And the recent Webb Telescope Photos. Now we’re watching Shining Girls (Apple TV), starring Elisabeth Moss, which combines searching for a serial killer who attacked her and time travel—shifting realities. We’re about half-way through the series. Here’s the trailer. I hadn’t watched it before. You probably know already if you’d like this type of show.

It’s been too hot to go anywhere. We may get storms tonight. I’m hoping we get steady rain, not a sudden burst. We had a lot of rain in the spring and early summer, but now everything is very dry from the extreme heat.

There’s been a lot of bird action at the river recently. I’ve seen the young eagle a few times, and once watched crows chasing it.

We’ve been eating this tomato salad a lot for dinner. I never was that fond of tomatoes, but these fresh Jersey farm stand tomatoes with salt, good olive oil, fresh basil, and some fresh mozzarella, along with bread to mop up the juice, are the perfect hot weather dinner.

Summer farm stand tomatoes, olive oil, basil from out garden–delicious!

Multi-verses

Monday Morning Musings:

Multi-verses

“It’s Cloud Illusions I Recall”–Joni Mitchell Cloud reflections , the Delaware River.

Time and space are jumbled,
ideas have migrated, questions are folded in dimensions,
dragged across decades, tossed against the fragile sky
till we are moving backwards

bewildered as kittens dumped and left to suffer, trembling and sore.

The questions multiply—where am I and why?
Haven’t we fought these battles before? We were tigers, elegant and sleek,
now we’re tasteless mouths and shameful hands, rewarded for incompetence,
we ingest wickedness at breakfast, as we applaud plots and crimes,
icicles grow in our hearts.

The verses sweep up the questions, from one century to the next,
No meter can contain them, the wind won’t let them rest,
Will flash, dazzle, and wit do more than satisfy (the questions want to know)?
Perhaps the verses are like ornaments, merely here for show,
yes, no, who knows? We still read them, when they’re not banned,
and pass them along from hand to hand,
even if they’re contraband.

(The verses like to rhyme, from time to time,
it varies by the year,
sometimes out of fashion, otherwise sublime.)

Civilizations rise and fall,
languages change, but thoughts and feelings remain,
what would I do in another world,
would I still be me and would you be you?
In every world, I’m certain I’d fight for my children
and miss my mom.

But watch—the souls drift by the river
between the moon and garden, they are
shadows that wrap themselves about us like blankets,
like unanswered questions, they wait.

Flower Gardens

Light and shadows

Light and Shadows

I began this by the using the random words from my previous post.

And I played with the word “multiverse” because we streamed the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once. I loved it! It’s about multiverses and relationships and what if? It’s got action and some crazy fight scenes, which is so not my thing, but it’s also clever, funny, and touching, and it’s one to think about after. I thought all the acting was excellent. Our older child loved it and is ready to see it again. They asked me if I cried at the end, and I have to admit, I did get teary-eyed because it deals with mother-daughter relationships.

We also streamed a play this week on July 4: The Complete Works of Jane Austen, Abridged (Tiny Dynamite Theater.) It was a lot of fun. Streaming tickets still available for a few days.
watched

We also watched the movie, Operation Hyacinth on Netflix. It’s a Polish thriller set in the 1980s about sting operations on gay men, but also about the corruption of the police state. I thought it was well done, exciting, and sort of noir-ish. Despite it being set in the 1980s–no cell phones, a reference to AIDS–it seems timely as we move more towards a police state here with laws targeting the LGBTQ+ community, and COVID.


I read Sea of Tranquility, the latest novel by Emily St. John Mandel. Multiple storylines, time travel, history, and Moon colonies–of course, it’s my kind of book.

We’ve been enjoying lots of summer produce:

I’ll be back this afternoon because I’m hosting dVerse–Quadrille. All week we will be celebrating dVerse’s 11th Anniversary.

FYI: @TopTweetTuesday is asking participants to share poetry reviews tomorrow.

Questions of Shadow and Light

Questions of Shadow and Light

Sun above and below, reflections and shadows on the Delaware River

In this time of shadow and light
crow flies from trees with raucous caw–
there are things I think I saw–

when the world is washed fresh and bright
the grass is showered with sparkling drops,
a rainbow orb shimmers and hops

and robins sing to dawn’s delight,
the stars are gone, the moon will set,
but now she hums, and lingers yet

the truth of sun, moon, stars invite
the ifs and whys of death and life
hereafter lived in peace or strife,

questions of time—the infinite
echoes on stardust in our blood
and bones dissolved in ancient mud.

In this time of shadow and light,
when the world is washed fresh and bright
and robins sing to dawn’s delight,
the truth of sun, moon, stars invite
questions of time—the infinite.

A Constanza for dVerse. The first line of each 3-line stanza forms a poem, which is the final stanza. You can read more about the form here.

Secrets

Odilon Redon, Orpheus

Secrets

In blue-chorded night, the moon murmurs secrets
so the earth is never lonely

as between friends,
the ancient words fall like petals

to take root
beneath snow blankets and on stony beaches

gulls gather them—dropping them with a laugh—
see the flowers growing amidst the rocks?

Now the storms bury and the mad men trample,
but the seeds are there,

think not only if, but when
the ghost-light of long-dead stars arrives
we feel the ache, hear the promise in infinite.

My poem from the Oracle–and this painting again seemed to fit.

Listen, Recall

Odilon Redon, Orpheus

In early morning hush,
the moon sings farewell,
gelid murmured notes
through white cat-paw clouds

if you listen, recall
light recalls time recalls light,
the ancient ships of night seas
ask when
ask what
you want
from the whispers and pulses
of mother music from earth and sky,

the fiddle, flute, and drums of
wind-beats and tree rustle,
the cardinal chirps and crow caws,
black on red on blue and green, every color
a promise, a warning
of what is and what was.

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.

Ingrid at Experiments in Fiction is hosting a Global Assembly on Climate Change. Read more about it here.

Traces Left Behind

Traces of wine on clay shards,
residue of the past, a history
of migration, cultivation–civilizations
that rise and fall. Transition and transformation–
chemical processes and time, the call

of ancient frescoes, where long ago dreams still live
enshrined, the stories of people and place–
the grapes, the gods, the snakes, and banquet plates,
a bird perched just so,
and for a moment—there—it sings.

I heard it.

Through the grapevine trellis,
in an enoteca now, the sun’s heavy golden face peeks
then goes, as it did that day in Pompeii
before the darkness fell in clouds of ash, rock,
and a river of lava flowed,
burying wine and dreams.

And yet—the artist’s vision lasted–
a woman gazes down at me, the scent of garum
in the air, birdsong in the background—and I
taste centuries in a glass.

I’m sharing this for dVerse’s Open Link Night, where Lisa is hosting. I missed Lillian’s “birthday prompt” on Tuesday. She asked us to
“go to the website https://mybirthdayhits.com and plug in your birthday. There’s a spot in the upper right-hand corner of the site for you to enter your birthdate. Have fun scrolling down the years, seeing what the #1 tune was on each of your birthdays. Pick at least one of the song titles that hit the charts at #1 on your birthday – one that resonates with you – and use it in its exact wording within your poem.”

“I Heard it Through the Grapevine” was one of the top songs on my birthdate. I’m not sure that the line really works in the poem, but that’s what revision is for. I actually do love the direction the title sent me in—which actually fits what Lisa had to say about hidden things and art, and also fits a larger project I’ve been working on. There are more frescoes here.