Past, Future, and When

Monday Morning Musings:

“Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”

–T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton,”

You can hear him read the poem here. 

“Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”

–Justice Hugo Black, New York Times Company v. United States (1971)


“Wouldn’t it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true and we could live in them?”

–Louisa May Alcott, Little Women


The present passes, becomes the past

the future now, and now is then.

We ask how did this happen and when?

Too fast for us to learn,

to slow for us to train

the grasping hands

the lizard brains?


In May 1933, they burned the books–

but that was there and then

now here, and again,

a leader tried to censor the news

suppress the press

(What are the choices? Choose.)

“I am not a crook,” he said

before he fled

his seat of power

(looking ever more dour)

But that was then

and it is now,

though there are echoes of before

(his followers ignore)

hate and fear

always in the air

like war’s harsh glare—

sow discord, let others bleed,

while those in the lead, feed their greed.


Bright days turn to stormy nights

we gather inside










and hold our fears at bay

waiting for a stay

from thunder and lightning flashes–

the zigs and zags across the sky–

but in the morning,

the birds still sing and fly

this is the present,

the past, the future whys


the past, present, future merge

as it’s beginning to do within my mother’s head

confusing the threads of history and time

sometimes—no reason, no rhyme—

but just the way it is

a bridge to what is, or could be

if only we can see—









We celebrate Mother’s Day

a made-up holiday

from what was a protest against war

to one of flowers and treats—

for some, for us, it can also be sweet—

Flourless Chocolate Cake and Cannoli Dip

and we’ve done all this before,











but still—

my mother has a great laugh—

and it would not be so bad

if that became her epitaph–

gathering with love around a table

as long as we are able

is wonderful and something we need.

No, that is not greed

to desire love and peace.

Perhaps I sometimes long for castles in the air

wish that was here or something there,

want the best for my own little women

as my mother wished for hers

and her mother for her children

in the past, which is now, which was then—

I wonder when?










23 thoughts on “Past, Future, and When

  1. There are two kinds of time, I think. There’s the time like a gallery of static images of past present and future, and the time that is personal, that we live in, the time that flows and all we can do is flow with it.

  2. The construct sure is convenient, but then and now become the same as it fades in our minds. Sooner for some than for others. Either way, from the photos it’s clear that your mother enjoys these times together.

  3. You unquestionably had a great Mothers Day weekend … the mother with her mother and a daughter. Excellent. … and I enjoyed your opening look at past, present, and future.

  4. I am so enthralled with how much this is a warm, loving tribute to your family: mother, sisters and your own daughters. It embodies the meaning (in my mind) of Mother’s Day.
    My Mom has wry wit but she and I rarely laugh out loud! I wish we did. . . It was so much fun how you shared about getting your mother ready. I love the thought of you all giggling until tears coming.
    Thank you for all of this and it was extra special, Merril. Happy to know you had such a lovely celebration! 💐

    • Thank you very much, Robin. I’m glad this moved you!
      I missed not seeing my daughters that day–older daughter lives in Boston, and younger daughter was sick–but it was still a fun day. For the last few years, we’ve taken my mom clothes shopping on Mother’s Day, but none of us was up to it, so we bought her some clothes to try on at my sister’s house, where we were celebrating.

      • I have been doing a similar thing in choosing clothes and bringing them to my Mom. She gets thrilled and doesn’t mind missing the shopping part. I’m sorry about one being sick and the other, I’m sure you have chances to see despite her being in Boston. Celebrating in different ways, at various times works in my life! 💐 🌞

    • Hi Tarissa–thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I’m really a bit overwhelmed right now, so I don’t know about the challenge, but I will certainly keep it in mind.
      Have you been to her house in Concord, MA? We were there many years ago.

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