We Wait for Magic

Monday Morning Musings:

Almost always,
magic appears in an unexpected blink
a deer-tail flash, a momentary glimmer, a pop of color
against the grey—

Spring Reflections ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

feathered with goose down, streaked with heron blue and crow black
and there– the gosling gold tumbles amidst spring green.

The sun’s red and golden steeds gallop high, over
the cold, north wind, rippling waves, scattering seeds—

and new life grows. Bud to flowers, acorn to oak—
eggs hatch and children grow. A new harvest, a new vintage–
we toast the departed, throw a stone in river, a rock in a fire—
remember what was, cherish what is now— reflect and

3D Goose Reflection. ©️Merril D. Smith

watch for color in the grey, listen to the wind sigh, and mockingbird sing,
find beauty in each day, and wonder why, some cannot bring
hope or joy, but only want to destroy—still you cling

to thoughts of young who fling away old terms of hate
as seasons pass, we love, lose, die, create, accelerate—
and for nature or fate, we wait.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. We went to Blue Cork Winery in Williamstown, where our daughter works part-time. We enjoyed a Mother’s Day brunch. Unfortunately, it was cold, and then it rained. I wore several layers of clothing. Not the most flattering photos. 😀

Merril’s Movie/Theater Club: We streamed No Child (Arden Theater, Philadelphia). It was a wonderful performance by Taysha Marie Canales, who became all the characters in this play about a teaching drama artist at a school in the Bronx. We also streamed Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand. The movie received several awards this year, including one for McDormand and also director Chloé Zhao. We both enjoyed it very much—it’s a beautifully filmed movie that makes you think about what you have and what others live without, as well as what it’s like to be a “nomad,” the life McDormand’s character adopts, living out of her van as she travels and works. Trailer here.

Dew and Time, the Readiness is All

Monday Morning Musings:

“O, that this too, too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!”
(Hamlet, act 1 scene 2)

“If it be now, ’tis not to come: if it be not to come, it will be now: if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.”
(Hamlet, act 5 scene 2)

Pink Moon and Green Man
come and go, the morning dew light-catches,

snatches, holds within
each drop a world soon gone,

a momentary sparkle, passes on
snuffed, like a candle’s glow by a breath—

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

less or more? We decide, and if we notice
what is around us, or ignore

what is. What is not, what is to be—there, the rub,
prepare in readiness–yet, stop, see,

sniff the air, and what will be
lilacs, iris, rose—grapes to wine—eggs to chick–

flick, and in a blink, the ebb and flow of tides,
reveals what lies below the surface-

uncovered, adrift,
the bones, the rocks, the detritus of stars–

still sparkling.

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

April continued its craziness into May. We enjoyed summer-like weather, visited a local winery (most are now doing flights instead of tastings), then we had cooler weather and wind gusts up to 50-60 mph. We may have thunderstorms today. Meanwhile, there are flowers shooting up and goslings born.

Merril’s Theater Club: We streamed Fat Hamlet, a new play by James Ijames performed by the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. It was filmed on location in Virginia, where cast and crew rehearsed in isolation. One positive thing about streamed productions is that they can be viewed all over the world. It’s a reimagining of Hamlet, black and queered, set somewhere in the southern US with a nuptial barbecue, karaoke, and a dance party—and more comedy than tragedy (well, there is one death). You can read all about it here, including the New York Times review, and get ticket information. We both really enjoyed it.

We Named the Sky: NaPoWriMo, Day 12

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

“The dead don’t go anywhere. They’re all here. Each man is a cemetery. An actual cemetery, in which lie all our grandmothers and grandfathers, the father and mother, the wife, the child. Everyone is here all the time.”
-Isaac Bashevis Singer (quoted in Shtisel), Season3)

Sunrise Cloud Reflections over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith

In ancient times, we named the sky—
saw Apollo in his flaming chariot fly
as his sister Diana of the woods and moon
bounded with deer and hound, and soon
the stars were storied, and tunes gloried
creation, emotion, and the cessation of
wind and tides, the slide

of seasons from one to next,
as the gods are first jolly, then are vexed.
But Persephone comes and goes–
snow falls, then flower flows,
and we cry and sigh as people die–
but the seeds remain, though not the same,
each generation evolves, and solves

Spring, Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

new problems, and old ones we revive.
But if we could fly in hyperdrive
to other worlds, or visit holodecks
to greet and meet dear loved ones in an annex
to another world, an alternate timeline,
future, past, present combined—we’d drink wine
with family and heroes, toast the divine

in fantasy. And yet—we recall,
in memories of sight, scent, sound—however small–
within us all the time, sharing space
with those who came before—the interface
of body and mind. Stardust to genes, renamed things
in seasons reborn on hopeful wings
Cycles, seasons, the stories again–real or imaginings?

Clouds and cool weather
Beautiful blue skies, April Morning. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I’ve combined my Monday Morning Musings with the NaPoWriMo Day 12 prompt: “This prompt challenges you to write a poem using at least one word/concept/idea from each of two specialty dictionaries: Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.”


Merril’s Movie/TV Club: We finished Season 3 (most likely the final season) of Shtisel (Netflix). I highly recommend it. My husband and I both got so caught up in this show.
We had Chinese food over the weekend, and so watch two Chinese movies.
Us and Them (Netflix)—a romance of a young man and woman meeting on a train and trying to become successful in Beijing. I liked it, but I’m not sure if I loved it. I think I would have enjoyed it more in the theater. We had some phone calls and other distractions.
Better Days (Amazon Prime rental)—is Hong Kong’s entry for the Academy Awards. It’s about school bullying, and also the high stakes competition/pressure of getting into a good college in China. My husband and I both enjoyed this one more—despite the subject matter of school bullying. There is also a romance. The actress Dongyu Zhou is the female lead in both movies. Watch the end credits for both movies.

Wine and Stories

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

Passover a few years ago. Lots of wine–and sparkling wine?

With stories,
we entertain, ascertain, explain the past,
another glass of wine drained, slow or fast–

is it enough? We remember
to forget

how seasons turn, grey to green,
but loved ones gone, remain unseen

like ghosts
white blossoms drift
leaving trails . . .we follow.

It’s poetry month, and I’m having a hard time getting anything else done between all the poetry writing and reading. So, I’m making my usual Monday Morning Musings very short and combining it with the dVerse quadrille prompt, where Linda asks us to write about wine.

Passover ended yesterday. I celebrated with pasta, garlic bread, and wine. During a traditional Passover Seder (Seder means order), we tell the story of the Exodus and during the course of the night drink four glasses of wine. My family, when we’re together, does a very untraditional Seder, and we drink maybe one, two. . . maybe more. I’m looking forward to seeing them someday soon.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Quo Vadis, Aida? It’s Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Oscar entry, and it’s a harrowing and heartbreaking, but also an excellent and nuanced movie. It chronicles the failure of the UN peacekeeping forces and the mass genocide by Serbian army in Srebrenica, as seen through the eyes of UN interpreter. The director said she had been waiting for someone to tell this difficult story, but she finally did so herself, and she does so without relying on showing tons of blood and gore. It’s available to rent on Amazon. We also watched Mank (Netflix). We both enjoyed it. It tells a fictional story of 1930s-1940s Hollywood, and the making of Citizen Kane, centered on Herman J. Mankiewicz, the writer, played by Gary Oldman. I thought Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies was particularly good.

Waves

Monday Morning Musings:

In the morning’s glow the water glimmers,
shimmers pink on blue,
as light slivers through silvered clouds
and geese and gulls skim the surface

Sunrise over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

I walk. Beauty, akin, but not identical,
the days similar, but different in ways
perhaps not profound, but meaningful
(to me) when I see a deer, or rippled sky

and wonder why—
the age-old questions, life, death,
and who am I? We drink some wine,
and watch the clouds–

we laugh aloud—enjoy the moment,
the storms come, and then they pass
and the waves surge, but they don’t last,
the sky is charcoal, then it’s blue.

The wind blows, the leaves fall
in golden puddles mound the ground,
the moon will hum, the sun will shine,
and winter fade in springtime’s bloom.

And you? You’ll be here, and so will I,
watching the tide flow in and outwards fly,
the shore uncovered again. And again.
Perhaps not a circle, but a chain

Geese and Cloud Reflections. Delaware River. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

linking everything. The waves of light, water,
motion—sky, river, ocean—
dust from the stars, amoebas and trees,
generations of humans, you and me.

The Whitall House and Reflections on the Delaware River. Sunrise. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched the movie, Waves. We had seen previews in the theater, pre-pandemic. The cinematic style—lots of pulsing color and light—probably plays better on a big screen. It took me a little while to get into it, but it’s a movie in two parts. The second part explores the aftermath of a tragedy that occurs in the first part. We both liked it, but it’s one of those movies that I liked more after I thought about it for a while.
We’re also watching Roadkill. In the US, it’s on Masterpiece (PBS). It’s always fun watching Hugh Laurie as a bad guy, and it was fun to see the female Danish prime minister from Borgen in it, too. We’ve watched 3 of the 4 episodes.

The Light I see

Monday Morning Musings:

I dream poems
of misty November mornings
and blue rivers tinged with shimmery pink,

Dreamy. Foggy November morning. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

of wine-dark skies, I drink
from half-full glasses filled with hope
and watch opalescent glow breaking bright–

last night, I dreamt of glass-ceilings shattered–
not store-front windows–
of people raised, not battered

in coordinated terror, fleeing sharp shards
of cutting hate, and the coming conflagration to annihilate–
but I dream not of bonfire flash and ashes,

of books and people burned, but autumn peace,
watching the sun sink behind russet leaves,
knowing the flaming eaves are an illusion,

William Heritage Winery

without any confusion, simply beauty,
the way it should be.
And so, my poetry dreams

lucid, drifting through timeless place,
with pellucid water rippling through space and time-
expanding circles

Ripples, a stone tossed into the river on a misty morning. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

that never end, from sand to horizon,
rising whispers to stars and sea, see me–
the light burns through fog to capture shadows and gild the trees.

My shadow caught in a tree.

So, I guess this is really meta, since I really did dream poems last night of misty November mornings and blue rivers.
Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of crystal), November 9-10, 1938, also called the Night of Broken Glass when Nazis and supporters carried out pogroms on the Jewish population and businesses in Germany and annexed areas. You can read more here.

Probably everyone reading this knows that Joe Biden is now the official president-elect of the US, and Kamala Harris is the first woman, first Black woman, and first Asian woman in the US to become vice-president elect of the US. We listened to them speak on Saturday night, and I was particularly moved by Harris’s speech.

Merril’s Movie Club: Prior to the listening to the speeches, we watched the movie, Sometimes Always Never, a sweet, quirky little movie starring Bill Nighy as a father searching for his lost son who vanished during a Scrabble game years before. There is a lot about Scrabble and words in the film. We both enjoyed it, but definitely not for the action, blockbuster crowd. It’s on Amazon.

We have had unseasonably warm days, and we managed to get reservations for outdoor wineries twice this week, William Heritage Winery, and the Auburn Road Winery Wine Garden at Hill Creek Farms. I’m afraid we may go into lockdowns soon, and even if we don’t, I won’t be sitting indoors, so I thought we’d enjoy it while we can.

Laboring

Monday Morning Musings:

Sunrise over the Delaware River

We labor, belabor, debate, defend
fend for ourselves, hope for trends

to alter course, reverse, against the wind
we traverse, carrying the past in heart and mind,

find that light is a constant, but time is not—
still we dine and drink some wine

Friday Night, Wine, Challah, Candles

without the rhythm and beats of city streets
reflections found in river, not in town—

I find beauty all around.

It doesn’t change what is, or what may be—
catastrophe, democracy’s fall, more plagues

all this or other. I read horror tales of ghosts
less scary than most of what is real, or almost–the boasts

of the fascist chiefs, the spreading of so many false beliefs
rumors can be deadly, and I think of the imposter priest

who despite his flaws, gets at the truth, and heals
a village. So many maligned, but is there is goodness in us all?

Perhaps. Though it may be hard to tell. Crimes of passion,
crimes of war, crimes of vengeance—so many more—

the people we neglect, the things we regret.
And yet, the moon shines silver in the night,

the sky is blue, the sun is bright. I walk through shadows,
and into light. Watch as birds take sudden flight—soar, unbound—

beauty all around.

Water Lilies, West Deptford Public Library Rain Garden

Today is Labor Day here in the U.S. I took a look at my post from last year. So much has changed. This is a bit of a response to that, I suppose. I kept the format of couplets, though not ending rhymes.


Merril’s Movie, TV, and Whatever Club: We saw the Polish movie, Corpus Christi. It was Poland’s entry this past year for the Academy Awards. We had seen previews for it. I’m not sure if it made it to the theater in Philadelphia before they closed or not. In any case, we both thought it was excellent. Almost like old times, we discussed it over wine and dinner—though our discussion was the next day at a local winery.

Wine and Grilled Cheese at William Heritage Winery.

We watched the French mystery series, Le Chalet with an earworm of a title song—even for those of us who don’t really speak French. It seemed like it was going to be a horror story at the beginning, but it turned out to be similar to an old-fashioned mystery, a Ten Little Indians sort of tale though with two timelines. We both liked it, though it was a bit confusing sorting out the characters for a while. We’re currently watching a Finnish mystery, Deadwind. It’s good, and I think we will become more involved with it as it goes on. There are lots of twists and turns—what seems like a straightforward murder case is not (of course). Both of these are on Netflix.

I just finished reading The Invited by Jennifer McMahon, a ghost story and also a mystery with different timelines and connecting stories. So, you know, a good Merril book. And my favorite podcast Ghost in the Burbs is back. Yay!

Oh, but speaking of favorite podcasts, the delightful Damien Donnelly now has a podcast. So. . . I guess that’s also my favorite (different genres). 😀

Creating and Recreating

Monday Morning Musings:

Sunrise and Clouds, Delaware River at West Deptford, NJ

Eagles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I dream of eagles
soaring high, circling in the cerulean sky
over the rippling river, rushing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

away from life’s ferocious frosts and fevers,
the fripperies, the vain vagaries of the villain
the anxiety, angst, and annoyances of the now.

The forests moan,
the seas seethe,
we mourn mothers, grandmothers—

generations gone
and wisdom withered, lost forever,
but passed along

are rituals, even as new ones
are created in novel circumstances–
in strange new worlds

we recreate, renovate, and originate—
old and new combine, migrants
become established

citizens of settled worlds. No need
to fly south, or north, east, west—
until the predators come, once again.

Still, the sun rises, rousing us with repeated rhythms,
the familiar and the strange merge in each day,
a deer leaps over a fence in front of you,

You never know who you’ll see during a morning walk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a flower blooms where there was nothing the day before,
the geese honk, rise in synchronized rhythm,
to settle, sailing further down the river, both seeming endless,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and over them, the eagles soar, sharp-clawed, fierce,
but mated for life, dancing in the air,
the way we can only dream of,

 

and yet, I’m rooted
like the giant oak, my branches spread wide, sheltering
my dreams and memories

that fall, scattered
like acorns, perhaps carried to new places,
to grow and live again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a strange week or so—or perhaps a strange few months. Last week began with the anniversary of my mom’s birth. Everything is so unsettled. We never gave her a real memorial, but I did bake a chocolate cake (her favorite), and we had a virtual dinner with our daughters with a meal I thought she would have liked, lasagna, garlic bread, and good bottle of wine I’d been saving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had days that went from sun to storms, sometimes within a few minutes. Then yesterday, the weather was absolutely beautiful, and my mood was much better, too. We went to Hillcreek Farm, where they opened a wine garden—reservations required to limit the number of people, and the servers were masked, as were we when we left the table.

I can’t get the spacing right, and I can’t spend any more time on this today. Sorry!

Auburn Roads Vineyards Wine Garden at Hillcreek Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Before and the After

Monday Morning Musings:

“For every atom belonging to me as good
Belongs to you.
   Remember?”

SINGULARITY by Marie Howe (after Stephen Hawking) 

 

Before the before,

or perhaps, after the after

of each birth, of each death

we are not,

and then we are

 

the dust of centuries,

circling round

what we know,

and what we’ve forgotten

of love and time and belonging

 

to stars and earth and sea—

remember this, I say to myself,

I say to you, remember when?

And we laugh, remembering

what it was like

 

to be with people,

to sit outside on a summer night–

the things we thought we’d always have,

forgetting time circles

back to the before and the after

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she died and he died–

mothers and fathers and children–

and who is to say the momma duck

does not love her offspring as much as we,

or what they remember of before

 

they swam in a river.

Crow voices his concerns, proclaims and prompts

us to action that we ignore,

like the goose looking for the tastiest grass,

we go about our lives, walking past

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the river, watching reflections,

reflecting on a world upside down,

tide and time-rippled,

sparkling, then clouded over

like an aged brain

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Tree reflection on Delaware River

filled with hidden recesses

and paths that lead to unexpected spaces—

the road not taken

to the wolf in the woods, to sleeping beauty,

to a forgotten love

 

before the before–

or, perhaps, after the after,

when the sun does not rise again,

imploding instead, and we are atoms,

dust returning light to the stars, remembering.

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Portrait in Blue Goose on the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, July 2020 ©️Merril D. Smith

 

 

We actually went out to a winery last week–Vino and Vibes at William Heritage Winery. With cases in the U.S. going up (though not so much in New Jersey), we may not do it again, but it the tables were well spread out—much more than six feet apart. Everyone wore masks when they were not at their own reserved tables, so it seemed as safe as anything is these days. My siblings and I are in the process of clearing out the storage unit where all of my mom’s stuff went after she died. Everything has been complicated by the Covid 19 situation and the need to keep socially/physically distant.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched a new Australian horror movie, Relic, which I thought was very scary—perhaps because it deals with dementia, which is terrifying to me anyway. We also watched the French movie, The Midwife, which is about family and relationships and has wonderful performances by Catherine Frot, as the midwife, Catherine Deneuve as a woman from her past, and Olivier Gourmet, as a gardening, truck driver neighbor. I liked both movies more than my husband did. We’re also about two thirds done with the third and final season of the German show, Dark (on Netflix). We are totally lost and confused, but loving it anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

Rise and Fall

Monday Morning Musings:

 

Through thousands of timeless changes

she’s slept, awakened, and wondered when, why–

and if—whispering wisdom in the pink petals of dawn—

in the shining silver strands of moonlight–

as the tides rise and fall

and waves tumble, wearing down rocks

and towns crumble,

she sighs at the shadows,

sings a song of healing, knowing

it may not be enough.

***

 

These are things that fall—

snowflakes

raindrops,

cherry blossoms,

my mother, over and over

 

again, the text or call,

she’s bruised, confused

about what happened

yet nearly blind,

she sometimes sees

 

these things that rise—

the volume of a laugh,

the sun and moon

spring flowers

spirits

 

at the sound of bird songs

drifting from dawn-lit trees

in the lengthening days

that sing of hope

and the renewal of life–

 

there the crocuses bloom

glowing in radiant amethyst

now jonquils tinkle their tiny bells

and soon sunny daffodils smile

and say hello, always friendly

robins frolic

as the worm moon lingers,

and the mockingbird sings

an aria of love and longing

from a budding tree branch.

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From the buds

come leaves or flowers

and fruit–

and so, an impromptu late lunch

we drink the fermented fruit

 

when other plans fell through

but the sun is shining

and so, we sip and reflect

and take this time

to laugh and talk

 

and then another evening, we walk

in the city awake in the almost-spring

despite the looming threats

it’s a Saturday night

we listen to the comedian

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and we laugh,

even while she talks of hand-washing

she is funny,

and we needed this

we all need this–

 

my mother sees my dead father,

sometimes they talk

she asks me to see if he’s in the lounge

I don’t see him, I say

maybe he will be here later.

 

The comedian says there is no rainbow bridge,

her dead pets are buried in the ground, gone

but remembered,

perhaps we carry these ghosts within us

do we hear them whisper? I don’t know.

 

These are things that rise and fall and rise again

a baby,

eyelids,

civilizations,

hope–

 

blooming

again and again.

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The only tree on the block in bloom, Walnut Street, Philadelphia.

 

No movies this week, but Paula Poundstone was very funny, and it was a fun night out, and our little date lunch was a wonderful little mid-week break.