Snowflakes and Time

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“Every snowflake has an infinite beauty which is enhanced by knowledge that the investigator will, in all probability, never find another exactly like it.”

Wilson Bentley

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Beneath a frantic cry

a need for love

is carried on the wind

over a thousand summers

through winter storms of snow and ice,

the moon hums

***

There is no present the man says,

only past and future,

no division between beach and sea,

only water and sand

both existing together.

 

“In physics there’s no arrow of time.”

In a place beyond our beyond

the past might be the future,

perhaps time existed

before our universe.

 

My toddler daughter once asked

“Do you remember when I was in your belly

and I hiccupped and that made you laugh?”

A conversation that she no longer remembers,

but that I still do—

 

that moment in time

frozen—no–

like a movie in my mind—

the improbable (could she have remembered?),

the reality

 

of mothers and daughters

over and over through time

we’ve moved my mother to a new facility–

she is exhausted,

she is exhausting.

It is an exhausting week.

Time seems to work differently,

dragging, then suddenly gone.

The world is wind and clouds

I am housebound–

by work

not trapped–

but constrained by deadlines

and circumstances

and January grey.

 

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The snowstorm-that-isn’t comes

and goes–

nevertheless, I cook and bake–

comfort food, candles, and wine

while we watch the trapped Icelandic town

caught by weather and geography,

old grievances and new politics.

The world is weary everywhere

trapped by hate,

mired in ignorance.

 

My daughter says there’s a good musician here,

if you’re not doing anything today?

We’re not

and we go

listen to music, drink some wine–

 

It’s an afternoon out

but inside—away from the wind—

a moment in time, different,

as each snowflake, and ephemeral

but carrying its unique beauty in our memories

 

through time

(whatever that may be).

 

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It’s been a strange week with moving mom and cleaning out her old apartment. While driving, we listened to an episode of the Ted Radio Hour, Episode “Shifting Time,” first broadcast in 2015.

We’re watching an Icelandic mystery series called Trapped. We’re almost finished with the first season, and we’re enjoying it.

Endings to Beginnings to Endings

 

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This may be my mother’s last move. We fold old years into new boxes; rearrange the past to fit the present. But somewhere, in some bit of time-space, the what was, still is. I stare at a painting on her wall. There’s a small red figure among the winter birch trees. Have I never noticed it before, or have I forgotten? It has always been there. I see it now.

 

Silvered bare branches

in moonlight they dream of spring–

leaves fall, new buds bloom

 

A Haibun for dVerse, where Björn has asked us to write about a beginning.

 

 

 

 

Wandering

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Lesser Ury, London in Fog, 1926

 

You wander, winter spirits,

in air dusk-dark,

blooms now covered by brown wind-rustle

as I walk, listening to the river

carrying secrets

 

~and poetry of if and why~

 

flows in cycles with the moon–

our world, a song rooted in hope

burning bright,

following stars to the dawn,

rising in birdsong of spring

 

Yesterday was dreary—it looked like twilight all day long, and this morning it’s foggy, and I can’t get myself to do much of anything. I used the nature set from the Oracle this time, and we collaborated on this Puente.

 

In the Darkness of the Year

 

 

Moonglow and star shimmer

light the travelers on their way.

 

Candlelight in windows flicker

a signal, a sign—

 

here we hold darkness at bay

 

for minutes, hours, days

as lovers embrace and sway,

 

finding freedom–a miracle

some might say

 

light comes to stay.

 

 

I’m so totally procrastinating today, so why not write another poem? Here’s a quadrille for dVerse,where Lillian is hosting. She asks us to use the word glow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grey Clouds, White Snow, and Beautiful as You Feel

Monday Morning Musings:

We’re frozen in a shadow world of dreary grey clouds, not even interesting enough to be chiaroscuro, just day after day dismal bleakness. Finally, the sun appears, and though the wind is gusting, and it is cold, I am thrilled to see sunshine. I have a doctor’s appointment, and we decide to make the rest of the day into an afternoon date—lunch and a movie. Before the movie, Green Book, I discover a little pond by the multi-plex parking lot. Beauty in unexpected places.

sun shines one fine day–

cold white clouds on blue surface,

rippled by webbed feet

Pond beside Multiplex, Voorhees, NJ--Merril D. Smith 2019

A friend stops by–just for a moment to drop off a belated birthday gift. The presents are lovely, but it’s the thoughtfulness that I cherish more. We’ve been friends since our college years when our now husbands were roommates. She’s a friend I could call in the middle of the night if I ever had to.

know you’ve got a friend

in January’s dark cold

to bring glimpse of spring

 

We’re watching The Man in the High Castle. In this alternate reality, the United States is split between the Nazis on the East coast and the Japanese on the West. In one episode, a Jewish man (who practices his religion in secret) tells another character to continue to create art, to find beauty so that “they” don’t win. He says Jews have outlived evil before, and they will do it again. I hope he’s right.

creating beauty,

wondering if it’s too late

for seeds to flower

Sylvia Schreiber Painting

One of my mother’s paintings.

Sun and wind, then grey skies again. A Sunday morning snowfall, quiet and beautiful.

there, up on the roof

snow lays a silent white quilt–

inside all are warm

 

We eat mussels and pomme frites at a Belgian bar. Then we walk through the cold city streets, where some holiday decorations remain.

 

small blankets of white

lights twinkle so far away–

city winter night

In the beautiful Academy of Music, we see Beautiful. The show tells the story of Carole King’s life, focusing on her relationship with Gerry Goffin, her husband and writing partner, and their friendly rivalry with songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The show ignores the social and political events going on at the time, though her declaration of independence got a cheer from women in the audience. Still, the songs that carry the show along—and they, of course, are wonderful. The show begins (“So Far Away) and ends with Carole alone on the stage at the piano (“Beautiful”).

light so far away,

you’re beautiful as you feel—

hope in dark of night

 

We go home to dream–of some kind of wonderful.

White Cat on Grey Couch, National Park, NJ

Each of the haiku–and the final line– includes a line from a Carole King song:

“One Fine Day” (Gerry Goffin and Carole King)

“You’ve Got a Friend” (Carole King)

“It’s Too Late “(Carole King)

“Up on the Roof “(Gerry Goffin and Carole King

“So Far Away “(Carole King)

“Beautiful “(Carole King)

“Some Kind of Wonderful” (Gerry Goffin and Carole King)

And here’s a bonus for you from when Carole King was honored at the Kennedy Center.

If you’ve never seen this, then you’re welcome. And if you have, then you know–Aretha Franklin, the Obamas, and Carole King herself–all the feelings!

 

Grey January Blues

January—the new year begins with day after day of grey skies and rain. I sit in a medical center. The light here is muted, the voices are hushed, except for those on the TV set, which no one is watching. I wait for a fax to arrive so that I can have a test done. Like Godot, the fax never appears. After three hours of waiting, I reschedule the test for another day. I walk outside to find it’s now sleeting. I travel home, only a few miles, but it’s another world, one of warmth and light. The cats greet me. My husband naps in front of the TV.  I defrost some homemade soup for dinner for us and drink a glass of wine. It is dark now, but somehow the world seems brighter.

unrelenting clouds,

sun and moon sheathed in cold grey–

wind sighs lonesome blues

Onion Soup

Warmth for body and soul

This Haibun is for Haibun Monday at dVerse, where Kim asks us to write about January. This was my afternoon yesterday. Thank goodness I had a good book to read. In case anyone was worried, I was simply getting a routine test to check my bone density.

 

 

December Comes with Cold and Light

Monday Morning Musings:

“Thus having prepared their buds

against a sure winter

the wise trees

stand sleeping in the cold.”

–From William Carlos Williams, “Winter Trees”

The first of December is mostly grey,

but not so cold—winter held at bay

 

for a while, but we smile to see the glow–

the sun on remaining leaves of trees slow

Philadelphia Parkway, December 2018

to sleep in winter’s arms,

and we walk to see the city’s charms

 

even in the bleakness of late fall—

almost winter—some magic calls

 

there, Diana shines atop the stairs

gilded anew, she seems aware

Diana, Philadelphia Museum of Art

of her strength, though she charms–

with arrow frozen in her arms

 

goddess of the hunt,

a moment, centered, upfront

 

there, I greet her like a friend

each time I visit, happy to see her send

 

(not the arrow), no never,

but she seems much too clever

 

to harm–such determination in her face–

perhaps she could send us hope and grace

 

we see dolls reflecting the passion

for both play and fashion

 

the bisque baby catches my eye

or the phrase captures my ear, why?

it sounds funny to me,

and so, we wander and see

 

a sibyl and monuments and Eve

through museum and streets, we weave

our way, and see the sights,

some Christmas lights,

 

drink mulled wine

feeling fine—then laugh to see that sign

we walk back and down the hill

where no joggers jog, all is still

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except the duck, who with quack and flap

jumps into the river—a slight slap—

 

against the surface, he swims

the sound, a chorus, a winter hymn

 

before the start of winter rain

with sun gone, shadows come again

 

bringing a misty afternoon twilight,

yes, this is December’s light.

 

Then Hanukkah comes with candle light

to bring us wonder and delight

 

I fry latkes in a pan

listening to a man

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discuss his life

some of the strife

 

escaping the Holocaust

in Kindertransport, crossed

 

to Sweden, his stuffed monkey with him*

the object now brings some joy, an era dimmed

 

by tragedy and time—family reunited

evil not forgotten or righted

 

exactly, but comforting to know

that helpers were there, not so long ago

 

and still, that there are people who did good

and do it still, do what they can, should and could

 

and so, we light the candles on this first night

eat latkes and smile at the sight

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Latkes!

of them burning till the flames die,

watch them belie

 

the darkness of night and soul

as believing in miracles makes us whole

 

more perhaps than what we seem–

the sum of what we hope and dream.

 

First Night of Hanukkah, December 2018

 

Hanukkah seems both more poignant and more important to celebrate this year.

I think I shared this story before from a previous All Things Considered segment, but Michel Martin interviewed Uri and Gert Beliner again last night.

We visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the members’ weekend and the Christmas Village.

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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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