Walls, Again and Again

Monday Morning Musings:

From a window I watch the birds flocked together to find food, to feed, fueling before the chilly winter rain begins again, following each other ground to sky and back again. I watch a couple of black birds—starlings perhaps–pecking at an old light fixture hanging below the eaves of my house. We think they don’t think or love or dream. Perhaps they think the same of us?

Species to species,

is there communication?

Walls between us all


I watch my cat dreaming and wonder what he sees. I wake from my own dream. It fades to mist. I remember only my sister. Her hair is styled in coils on each side of head—a 1940s hairstyle. She slowly morphs into my grandmother, my mother’s mother–

dream walls dissolving

past, present, future merging

an uncertain message


On a chilly day, we see a production of Romeo and Juliet. The cast wears modern street clothes, Mercutio raps. There is a band and a “Greek chorus” of local college students. There are curtains of shimmering golden strands; the actors part and walk through them. They also wheel these golden strand curtains into place to form walls on the otherwise mostly bare stage. There is another wall at the end of the play, where the singer and band sing about love being “a waste” if it is only “a wall to keep the truth away.” Some of the beauty of Shakespeare’s play has been lost, yet we enjoy this imaginative production. We talk as we walk through city streets. Then within walls, where it is warm and dry, we sip some wine, and eat some cheese.

enemies fated,

or find love notwithstanding—

what is in a name?


We walk past garden gates and walls to see another play. Ripped from too many headlines—the far too common killings of black people by white law enforcement officers—the play is set in the jury room where the jury is deadlocked. They decide to try to react the circumstances of the case giving all those involved a backstory, which leads to the final, surprising, and powerful conclusion. The play is not perfect and some it is a bit contrived, but it seems designed to help tear down some walls. Every performance has a talk back session. Some people say they like how the characters are made human. No one here is evil, even if we do not agree with their opinions. There are walls of human misunderstanding and conflict in both plays.

conversations help

break down walls of distrust

challenge our notions

And yet—we finish watching the third season of The Man in the High Castle. I am chilled by the vision of smiling youths tearing down monuments and burning the New York Public Library. This is a fictional world, but lately there are too many similarities to the real world. The petulant baby foments hate. We should all be behind a slogan to Make America Better, not to the one he champions that looks back to world where racism, sexism, and homophobia flourished. I see too many posts railing against “illegals,” the ignorance astounds me. And on Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating when Auschwitz was liberated, too many do not believe it happened, while there are some who would like it to happen again. I watch Rent, and I think of the Parkland students singing “Seasons of Love” at the Tony Awards last year.

“It’s time now to sing out,

though the story never ends”

still walls of hate here

Every family has its secrets, its walls. Every family has its tragedies and comedies, a play in several acts. We live out our stories within the walls of homes, schools, workplaces, or in confinement somewhere. My mom rarely ventures outside the walls of her building now because she can’t go out by herself. We drive her to our daughter’s house for brunch. We talk, eat, and watch the dogs play. We laugh. We love. Sometimes that is enough.

Walls can shelter us

from bad weather, and from life

but love helps us grow

The moon hums a lullaby for birds, cats, and me. Walls dissolve, and we share a dream.


I guess this is more prose and verse rather than a series of haibun. And also, sorry, WP won’t let me delete the video below.






38 thoughts on “Walls, Again and Again

  1. Won’t let you delete it? Hmmm, that is strange… and funny, because I realised too late it was on the tube and I hate arriving mid-show – even if I know it 😉

    Lovely how many variations of “Romeo and Juliet” there are out there… saw a ballet last year with a quite modern take. I figure it’s not a bad thing to try and bring classic stories to life to the new generations (who would understand diddly-squat of the original, anyway!)

    Have a fabulous week, Merril!

    • Thank you, Dale. The video is just the clip of the students singing from the Tony Awards. And yeah, it is weird that I couldn’t delete it–unless I felt like re-doing the whole post. You can probably find the Rent that was on TV last night somewhere online. We’re also going to be seeing it in a theater next month. Yes, I think Shakespeare can be adapted in all sorts of ways (and has been).

  2. I think WP thinks they can post ads because you are using their service. Just be thankful you don’t have an ad for erectile dysfunction which I saw on someone else’s post recently. :-/

    It’s true as Robert Frost says, “Something there is that doesn’t like a wall,” but I like your conclusion here about walls sheltering us.

  3. I’m not sure I could get used to the modern day Romeo and Juliet. I so love the “old fashioned” version I grew up watching. I’m laughing at Marian’s comment about the ad. I hope it wasn’t on my blog!

  4. Food for thought, as usual. Your comment about The Man in the High Castle echoed what my daughter and I discussed after seeing Denis Do’s “Funan”, an animated rendering of his mother and brother’s life under the Khmer Rouge–all their slogans and justifications for doing evil–too many echoes of it today, from the top down, all over the world. Are humans to be reduced to their worst impulses?
    I hope not. Birds, cats, dogs, trees…all give hope and sustenance. (K)

  5. I’m glad you couldn’t delete it Merril – it was lovely! As were your musings thank you.

    Walls can divide but as pointed out they can also enclose, in a positive way. Even though your mother remains mostly enclosed within her walls, she has her loving family join her in that special place –

  6. Our society seems to be about walls (visible and otherwise) – within families, between families, between us and “others,” between nations. And when we find a way to tear down one wall, a new one goes up – and usually a revision of the old one.

  7. You and your musings, always a treasure to my lunchbreaks. I watched the movies Green Book and Boy Erased last week and then If Beale Street Could Talk this weekend I felt so sad that we are not just telling these tales because they are a part of our history that we should not forget, but that we are telling these stories because they are still a huge part of our ignorance. Some build walls so high they can only see shadow and not the light, some want to build walls perhaps so no one can see how utterly idiotic they are, others build walls to cradle comfort. Why can’t we see how important it is to comfort, caress, comprehend?

  8. I love how you slip this in: “The petulant baby foments hate.” I started reading an essay in The New Yorker last night on Plessy v. Ferguson, the history leading up to and after that ruling. It chills me how close we are to that history, when otherwise learned men proclaimed Africans as inferior or when they claimed that their goal was not to oppressed the “colored” races but simply to maintain the “purity” of the white race. And then I recall reading article after article of violence against women, this meditation brought on by a review of a documentary of Ted Bundy (the reviewer noting that Bundy gets the last word while his victims get no words), and the long list of serial killers–men who killed hundreds of women who are nameless and forgotten by society at large–and a young man who was arrested somewhere in Colorado because his friends were worried. He said he wanted to kill women, a lot of them. I think he also wanted to kill himself. Whether because of the petulant baby or not, I worry that we are receding, being pulled back to an era where white supremacy was codified in legal documents. I worry more that we never left that era. Sorry to be such a downer. Thank goodness it’s Wednesday 😉

    • Thank you. I have to say that I think of all those things, too. I’m reading such disturbing stuff on sexual harassment now–and yes, all those murders of women–oh, and the black actor who was recently attacked and his attackers shouted racial and homophobic vitriol. . .and on and on. dt might not be a racist or homophobe, but he’s definitely brought them out, and he hasn’t done anything to put them down.

  9. Walls. *sigh* There are, as with all things, good uses and bad uses for walls. No good uses (that I know of) for petulant babies who foment hate. 1WriteWay’s comment reminded me of my representative (who I sometimes call Big Jerk or something worse) who was recently seen with a white nationalist and holocaust denier (I won’t name him), a man who is interested in genetics, probably not in a good way.

    I love the image of the bird in flight at the beginning. And I love that you mix in the good, all the wonderful family things.

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