Beginnings and Endings




Monday Morning Musings:

“But now I’m not so sure I believe in beginnings and endings. There are days that define your story beyond your life.”

–Dr. Louise Banks in the movie, Arrival (2016)

“Time is what stops history happening at once; time is the speed at which the past disappears.”

–David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas


Beginnings and endings,

I hear the mockingbird sing.


A spring day in February,

we changed plans,

instead of a movie,

we went to lunch,

where we could sit outside,



Valley Green Inn, February 2017


and take a long walk.

our server did Sesame Street character voices

(for the children at a nearby table),

he carried our dishes to us

announced them with a song,

kind of strange,

but so is spring in February.


We sat at our table watching people walk dogs,

and dogs walk people,

(dogs pulled leashes,

noses up, sniffing,

pulling toward the porch-

This way! There is food.)

we watched bicyclists,

and one unicyclist,

and I watched the geese

beginning and ending flights,

over and over

the same patch of the Wissahickon Creek,

a gaggle of honks and feathers in short, graceful flights.

Were they the same geese?

Was it a game?

Teenage geese in race?

I watched

wondering when they began

and when they will end this game,

their journey.



We walked,

we talked,

spring fever,

people smiled

said hi as they passed,

everyone enjoying this glorious February day,

We strolled along the Wissahickon,



we could have veered off to another path—

(two roads and all that)

I think about other walks we’ve taken

and other times we’ve walked,

and other people who have walked where we walk,

will walk there after us,

wonder if they walk with us, unseen,

I think about paths and time and connections

and music that is triggered in my head

by a word,

a thought,

and the way that books take people through time and space.

I see scenes in my head as I read,

(do you?)

and sometimes I feel that I am there

in that moment,

in that place,

and sometimes I’m not certain if I’ve read a book

or seen the movie

because the scenes are so vivid

and when I write,

the characters become real,

they have always existed,

no beginning

no end

on a timeless path.


Days later,

I think about how I love books, shows, and movies with complicated storylines—

stories that move through time,

or are told from different characters’ points of view,

I realize

(of course, you will say)

it’s connected to my fascination with time and timelines,

different paths our lives could/might/may have taken,

the protagonist of our own lives,

a minor character in someone else’s,

a movie extra without lines.


I wonder if time passes the same way for everyone,

does the mockingbird singing before dawn

know the sun will come up soon,

that it’s a new day?

I wish I could ask him,

I wish I could understand his answer,

instead, I listen to his song,

and in that song

in the predawn darkness

he does communicate,

an announcement,

I am here. Listen!

Perhaps that is enough,

I relive the moment in my head

a moment past,

but present,

no beginning,

no end













27 thoughts on “Beginnings and Endings

  1. Random thoughts here:

    I know the calendar moves from past to present to future, yet I have always thought of time as circular. I also like your version of Canada geese. You spoke too of tables at a restaurant. My guess is your server gets big tips. About the warm weather: Enjoy it to the fullest. My recollection – Often the mid-Atlantic get one final wet snowstorm in mid-March.

    One thing for sure: “when [you] write,
    the characters become real,
    they have always existed,
    no beginning
    no end
    on a timeless path.”

    • Awww–thank you for your very kind words, Marian!
      Yes, I keep thinking we might get a snow storm in March. Last year, remember how beautiful it was at the beginning of our stay with Janet, but then it cold and rainy? They had snow here.
      I think of calendar years as circular, too, but time itself–hmmm. . .I think of it maybe as multi-dimensional. Maybe 3D Venn diagrams. 🙂

  2. That mockingbird that sings before dawn is actually praying the sun into existence.
    I’m surprised you didn’t know that, Merrill, you being a poet and all. 🙂

  3. Not only do I get books and film mixed up, I sometimes can’t figure out if I actually experienced something, or if I read about it, or heard about it, or maybe just thought about it…it’s a bit disconcerting. I think the layers of the world must overlap and some of us get caught between…(K)

    • Oh yes–exactly, Kerfe.
      I was thinking about synchronicity, too, and how we both seem to be writing about these shadowy, connected, interconnected places–and then we watched “Arrival,” and then I heard This American Life where two women were switched as babies, and they wonder what their lives would have been like. . .

  4. Each morning new
    Or else so it seems
    When time’s out to lunch

    Tell me who’s to know?
    Maybe David Mitchell
    Or his witless reader (I)

    Ghostwritten called me
    Across a crowded room
    Gradually revealing

    Solitary atemporals
    The true citizens united
    Their “Citizens United” – Hah!

    It’s not called
    The mockingbird
    For nothing

  5. I liked this post, ponderings and the paths in your beautiful mind, Merril!
    In response to the inquiry of do mockingbirds know when dawn approaches. . .
    My friend Bill and I many times would sit at a fire circle on his farm waiting for dawn. Sipping on coffee, his heavily sugared and mine a creamy tan with flavored creamer.
    The deer’s snorting out steam, the rustlings and calm. Then voices of birds startling in their simultaneous eruptions. Barely a slow chirp, all so cheery and bright.They sense this even as it is dark, seemingly no light at all! Smiles, Robin (break is over.)

    • Thank you, Robin. Your pre-dawn fire circle sounds lovely. (If you’re taking orders, I drink my coffee black. ) 🙂
      Yes, I’m sure they do sense the dawn will come. I guess I was thinking more if they think about it at all, or what they think about it. Is the new dawn all new to them? Do they remember the past day? I often try to imagine what thinking is without language, but I can’t really imagine it.

  6. Holy Crapsticks! That was amaxing. I felt I was there with you, wishing, wondering, asking, accepting, looking for what was next and feeling the loss of what had just moved off. bravo!!! bravo!

  7. Yes, I do (see scenes in my head as I read).
    I often wonder what the birds think, what it is they are communicating when they sing. Why does the mockingbird learn so many songs? Is he the translator of the bird world, deciphering the different bird languages/songs so that they can all communicate with each other? Is it true that animals are more in the present moment than we are, always there in the Now without concern about past, present, or timelines? Or do they know the secret of the circularity of time so that they can be in any time, any beginning, any ending?
    Now you’ve got me ruminating. You have a gift for that. And a gift for writing. I enjoyed your musings, your walk, and felt as if I’d come along with you for the day. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Robin.
      Many years ago, I read some articles about birdsong. It was fascinating how they learn them, and birds in different areas have their own dialects that they sometimes teach to others. But it is fun to wonder if they know more about time. I’m glad I got you wondering. 🙂

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