Monday Morning Musings:

“Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”
–Mary Oliver, Georgia Review (Winter 1981), 733.

“There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.”

“I have a right to be angry, but not to spread it.”

–Hannah Gadsby’s, “Nanette”


Ask why an ancient wind

rose beneath a hot sun–

they never will

see souls rustle in soft shade.


murmur harmony

to nature’s song

and feel life bloom








We listen to the woman, a masterful storyteller,

skilled at creating tension—and

relieving it with a punchline,

but in this set,

she lets the tension linger–

at least for a while

noting both her anger

and its reasons—

reasons that should anger us all.

I think of that,

as neo-Nazis gather in our nation’s capital.

Neo-Nazi? Why should there be new ones

after the defeat of the old ones?

I ponder the other labels–

shouldn’t we all be anti-fascist

and united against hate?

It should be the default mode, shouldn’t it?


The novel I’m reading is set in

the early 1930s in Berlin,

the female protagonist had a gay brother

who was murdered.

While they were growing up, she tried

to teach him what she called

“A Code of Masculinity,”

so, he could pass,

but he didn’t.

Hannah Gadsby

in the 1990s in Australia

was assaulted for not being

feminine enough,

she couldn’t pass either. But growing up,

in a culture where she was reviled, left its

legacy on her. She talks about the shame

she felt for being a lesbian, for being different.


I think about trying to explain

these weird and artificial binaries

to a visitor from another world,

But how could I,

when they make no sense to me?

You must be this color,

you must love this person,

you must be this religion. Why?


And where do I go with this? I seem to have

gone off on a tangent–because

I wanted to tell you about baskets.

Picture the basket itself,

woven together from strands of straw, reeds, or

even wire,

each one different.

And my life, also woven of many different strands.

I weave my basket, and sometimes I take it apart

and start over.








So, let me tell you how

we celebrated the anniversary of my father’s birth—

He would have been ninety-nine. He’s been dead for twenty years,

and I still miss him.

We toasted him with wine–

and ate ice cream afterward,

because he loved ice cream.


















We eat Pakistani food with our younger daughter and her husband,

enjoying samosas and other delights

as their dog and cat circle the table,

where there were no scraps tossed,

but love drips,

like melting ice cream,

because it can be messy,

but there is plenty to go around.


I could tell you about being with

dear friends over the weekend,

how we eat pizza,

and discuss that new normal, how

it is difficult not to discuss politics

but at the same time,

conversations are fraught

with hesitation—or anger.

How can one be friends with someone

who supports a racist?


The saying goes, “Don’t put all your eggs

in one basket.”

We should welcome those who think

differently or look different.

And isn’t part of the joy of having

a full basket

come in examining its contents?


There is so much we do not see.

We toss everything

in the basket of life, and pull out what we need

or what we want. But maybe sometimes

we need to look at the basket itself.


There is no punchline here.










We watched “Nanette” on Netflix. Trailer here.

I’m reading the novel A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell.















36 thoughts on “Baskets

  1. I’ll call this Monday Morning Weavings, again so well done. A favorite line: “There’s nothing stronger than a woman who has rebuilt herself.”

    Your title called to me because my husband found a huge box of baskets that a previous owner had left in the attic. We decided to donate them and handed them off to two happy women in the parking lot. They never made it through the thrift shop door.

  2. I love the drift and shifts of your poetry, that sort of “stream of consciousness” that is seemingly random and yet not. I read part of an article about Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Unite The Right rally. Apparently he liked to dabble in poetry and, according to the article, one of his poems included the line “exchange your pride for fame.” When I read that, even though it’s out of context, all I could think was, “well, here it is. Fame and fortune. People who will say anything to get attention which might lead to fame and fortune.” So how many of these “neo-Nazis,” especially the organizers, really believe in white supremacy and all that and how many of them just really like the limelight, their rock star status among their tribe. It’s so disheartening (understatement) because either way (they really believe or they just really want to be famous), they are part of the problem, never the solution. When they complain about the growing diversity of our country, all I can think is “Thank God for that!”

    • Thank you, Marie, and thanks for sharing that bit about Kessler. I didn’t know that about his poetry, but I think you are right that some people will do almost anything simply to be in the limelight. I’ve heard people say that’s why we should limit news coverage of murderers.

  3. Or First of the Weekday Weavings… What a wonderful post, Merril. I am with you on pretty much everything you said. Why? A question that we ask about all the mean and negative and hateful and hurtful.. things going on around us. Why do “we” do it? Why do “they” do it? Why indeed would there be new Nazis? Why do these bad seeds keep sowing themselves?
    Sigh. On to the lovely bits 😉
    I love baskets of all kids and do agree that part of the fun is discovering what is inside as well as how it is made….
    You do watch the coolest things that I keep listing, hoping I will take the time to sit my butt down and just watch. “Nanette” I am definitely watching!
    Thank you for sharing in your inimitable way…

  4. Oh woww wow wow… ‘ but love drips….’
    what a warm loving post, filling with comfort, as one reads it. My dad… I will never stop thinking he’s in the next room. They never really leave, how can they? And the ones with us, the whole texture of love, how precious it all is, every fragment of the day…

  5. Wonderful weaving of words, Merril. Wonderful post. 🙂

    Your question (“How can one be friends with someone who supports a racist?”) is one that I’ve been asking, and it is something that has been subtly changing the landscape of my life. An unweaving, so to speak, and I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

  6. This was such a unique way of tying the threads together as you gracefully do on Monday’s Musings. Baskets full of gifts, holding truths and touching the realities of differences held my attention fully.
    I have to admit distancing myself from those who are Trump “fans” or “followers.” I cannot help feeling that their acceptance of him limits their humanity.

    • Thanks so much, Robin.
      It is difficult–my friends and I were talking about how it is so difficult now. You have to avoid politics–while at the same time, now it is always coming up.

      • I just feel it is like those who have respect for Trump are like those who followed the KKK or something insidious. I cannot compromise or comprehend their praises and respect for the man. I just don’t think they are my friends. They are familiar faces with their minds too far from my way of thinking to spend time listening to. Old friends included! Just not worth the anxiety I feel when listening to their accolades on the Wall and keeping people out, as well as putting down our Hispanic culture in our building. I’m friends with the Filipino and the Mexican groups. At least I can be myself with them and don’t have to smile and nod. Jenny, Anna, Tammy, my gay friends and I know where we stand and I am happy for this. 💕

  7. I like the messy ice cream and the love dripping. I think toasting your Dad while spending time with your daughter and son-in-law was my favorite parts in this post.

    Baskets do bring a wide variety of thoughts into my mind.

    It would be wonderful if our Dads had lived longer. I didn’t get a chance to check out this post although you did say my post on July 31st had you stop and calculate your own father’s age. 💕
    You and I “spoke” of the difference in ages of our fathers and our loss of them fairly recently.
    For me, more space due to death was upsetting to me, as well as not enough time spent one on one. Having childless brothers he tended to spend more time to talk with them. While my having children, he gave the grandkids his attention and time. I appreciated this but took less time to discuss and learn his feelings on many important subjects.
    Not to presume anything, correct me if I’m wrong. . . I “feel” you faced distance before your father’s death. . . Wasn’t he living farther away from you, your sister (I forget about whether or not you have a brother) and your mother? I may have this reversed; since your mother’s family may have been farther away.

    • Hi Robin. Thank you for stopping by!
      I’m not quite certain what you meant. In the years before my dad died, my sister and my niece spent more time with him than I did. My sister lived much closer to him, and she doesn’t have children. My niece wasn’t married at the time, and my dad was like her father. I had two young children and lived about an hour or more away. I do have a brother. He lives in Philadelphia now, but at that time he lived in San Francisco.

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