Winter Solstice, Light Again

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

Crystalline sky turns grey, and again,
the sun holds sway, briefly a queen,
till retiring her light in longest night,

John Heinz Wildlife Refuge Center, ©️Merril D. Smith 2020
Sunrise on the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, December. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

thoughts flit in shadows, reappear
to soar on broad heron wings
toward faint morning’s misty glow, and slow

the brightening, diffused through pink-tipped clouds. But–
do you hear the river’s tongue, lapping up the shore,
waking the day? Watch, stay

there, from a tree a cardinal chirps and robins sing,
remember spring. And here, amidst festive red and green,
we recall summer bright

and keep its flames burning in candlelight, reflecting out
across the miles, ever fainter, like the stars
that gleam, while

the moon hums a silver sheen
across the snow. And buried below,
are seeds and dreams, waiting–

and so, it goes. Again, birth to end,
spinning earth, time flows, and light transcends
us all, singing, winging across and beyond space

that shimmering star glow.

So a quick bit today for the winter solstice because I’m behind on everything, including reading others’s work. I apologize. I hope to catch up this week.

My birthday was last Tuesday. We took a long walk at the John Heinz National Wildlife Center at Tinicum. I will post more photos another time. It’s a wetlands sanctuary. The day was cold and there was ice on the water, but the sun was shining, and it was beautiful. We tried a new to us Indian restaurant for take out dinner, and it was great! (And we had it for two more dinners!). Younger daughter baked and delivered a chocolate-salted caramel cake. We celebrated the rest of Hanukkah this week, and I started on Christmas baking. Santa Claus drove by on a fire engine (no, I can’t explain it)—but in this time of Covid, everything is exciting.

Merril’s Movie/Theater Club: We streamed The Wolves for my birthday. An excellent production by the Philadelphia Theater Company. We watched Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, a terrific film adaptation of August Wilson’s play. Nuanced and powerful performances from all, and an especially fine performance by Chadwick Boseman in his final role. This is an intense and beautifully filmed movie. We also watched Enola Holmes, which was perfect, lighter viewing. It’s a lot of fun. Both movies are on Netflix.

Solstice Dreams

 

On this longest night

no trilling riffs of birdsong,

only dreams take flight,

gathering round the cold full moon

dancing home through sodden clouds

 

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Happy Solstice—Winter or Summer! It is rainy, dark, and dreary here in NJ. This is a print I own, but it was a gift, and I don’t know the artist. It’s the wrong season, but I can dream. 🙂

I’m linking this to Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday Challenge. She’s on break, but so thoughtfully left prompt words! This week, synonyms for fly and sing.

 

 

 

The Week That Was

Monk's Cafe--Inside Looking Out

Monk’s Cafe, Philadelphia Merril D. Smith 2018

I was born in this city where now we go to celebrate, the night before my birthday. Holiday lights glow through the misty air. We sit in a pub, warm and cozy, even though the nearby tables are loud with after work parties, students, and academics. I gaze through the window as two young girls outside take photos of an older couple standing in front of the Christmas lights. Perhaps the girls’ grandparents? My husband and I clink our glasses in a toast, and I dig into my mussels.

 

holiday spirits,

sparkling souls in glowing light

December revels

We walk around the neighborhood for a bit. Rittenhouse Square is full of light; the skyline shimmers. We see winter trees and signs of city life.

 

ghostly branches wave,

beckoning to seasons past

harboring futures

We go to show, laugh at the jokes and clever Broadway parodies. The woman next to me sits stoically, never applauding, but suddenly lets out a loud guffaw at a joke about [vice-president] Mike Pence waiting to be raptured. Well, it was a funny joke. It is raining as we walk back to the train.

 

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raindrops dripping from branches—

glimmers in puddles

It is still raining the next day, my birthday, but we walk around anyway. Then go to a movie of cinematic splendor, filmed in black and white. The images linger on screen and in my mind–

 

puddles on cement

an airplane flying through clouds

crashing ocean waves

Class struggles. Race. But always women without men, raising children.

 

 

We eat Chinese food with friends, laughing, catching up with this and that. I receive roses from one friend, and another bakes me a birthday cake. My husband gives me chocolate truffles. I get birthday wishes from family and friends. I talk to one daughter on the phone, and I see the other at a winery holiday party. Despite the weather, this has been a wonderful birthday weekend.

 

I am thankful for this life.

I was born just before the solstice. The days have been gloomy, and the nights grow longer.

now coming darkness

then the coming of more light

long night’s moon whispers

softly from behind the cloud cover, where meteors blaze across the sky. Perhaps I hear them sigh.

I close my eyes. Like a vision—I see a snow owl. It swivels its head. Looks at me, raises its magnificent wings, and sails off into the night sky. I think of the owl I saw once on my birthday. Spirit animal? Magical vision? Who knows.  .  .

this feathered glory

shining white in midnight sky–

hope in the darkness

 

At Sharrott Winery, Members Holiday Party, 2018

 

I’m linking this to Frank’s Haikai challenge—solstice. We went to 1812 Production’s annual show, This is the Week That Is. We ate at Monk’s Café.  My daughter took me to the member’s holiday party at Sharrott Winery. We saw the movie, Roma. It will be on Netflix, but if you can, see it in the theater. The cinematography is worth it. Here’s the official trailer.

 

 

Winter Solstice Dreams: Haibun

Here’s another winter solstice poem. This Haibun is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. She asked us to use synonyms for the words cover and precipitation.

 

I’m tucked under the blankets. My big-eyed, grey-striped cat is cuddled against me. Our white cat has closed both his blue eye and his yellow eye on the pillow beside me. My husband, wrapped in a green-bordered patchwork quilt, has fallen asleep downstairs in his recliner. We all dream. Our dreams are shape-shifting creatures that fly high to dance together amongst the stars. I dream of winter snow melting in spring sunshine.  In my dream, there are green fields and blue horses in a silver mist. There is a building, where inside a dark room a woman slowly chews and swallows some strips of paper. She smiles because now she holds all the secrets–buried inside her like a seed. But someday they will sprout in light, blooming flowers of truth and beauty.

 

Dreams reign solstice night

soothed by moon’s lullabies,

slowly, the sun wakes

 

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Franz Marc, “The Dream,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons