Bodies and Souls


When we were both younger.

Monday Morning Musings:

“Here is a thing my heart wishes the world had more of:

I heard it in the air of one night when I listened

To a mother singing softly to a child restless and angry in the darkness.”

–Carl Sandburg, from “Poems done on a Late Night Car”


“And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

From, Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night”


Beneath the beauty–

pink, red, yellow-petaled–

nectar flows,

pollen-dusted bees

hover, their buzz

a soothing lullaby–

the sound of if, is, was,

and will be


Enter a caption

What will be?

From my mother’s body,

I came,

my earliest memory, her

(she was beautiful)

shushing me,

telling me not to wake my sister


My sister and I played,

sang the songs of Broadway

and our lives,

nonsense words became family slang

over the dinner table—

the sound of family dinners,

and playing the dictionary game.


From my body,

my daughters came.

Sisters, they played,

sang songs of Broadway

and their lives

nonsense words became family slang

over the dinner table—

the sound of family dinners,

and playing Scattergories.


They look alike,

(but they don’t)

anyone can tell they’re sisters,

the way they talk and gesture–

we look alike

(but we don’t)

anyone can tell I’m their mother,

it’s in the blood,

our souls

from bodies, the blood of

grey and green-eyed ancestors

generations stretching far back

to first hearts beating

and blood flowing

women, men,

loving, hating,

beautiful and ugly bodies

crawling, walking–

in the cold May rain

we go to see my mom

no longer young

with body failing

and mind not as sharp

(not as it was, not as she was)

but heart beating

and blood flowing,

we make her laugh

she’s in the hospital

(first docile, now demanding)

it’s the anniversary of my dad’s death

hearts beating

and hearts not beating

once my father raged,

against the dying of the light

till he raged, no more,


body and soul both gone.

I don’t believe in ghosts

and spirits

(But I do.)

There are things in the air

we can’t see, can’t hear

the songs of stars and bees,

the humming of the moon.


Can two people share the same dream?

The woman asks in the movie—

because it happens to her and a man,

It happened to me, once long ago,

to my daughter and me

a dream forgotten now– except

“someone played a flute,”

we both say, when I mention it—

years later.


Things unexplainable,

things I hear in the air,

that I wish we had more of,

I remember singing to my babies

My mom’s cousin says,

“people remember

the songs they heard

when they were children.”

Perhaps there are things

in the air–

If we stop and listen,

the sound of stars and bees,

the humming of the moon.



Yesterday was Mother’s Day, here in the U.S. My mom has been in the hospital for the past several days. My father died on May 11, 1998. I remember going to the hospital on Mother’s Day, for what would be his last night.

My husband and I watched a Hungarian movie, On Bodies and Souls on Netflix. In it, a man and a woman share the same dream every night. (Warning: there are scenes at the beginning in a meat-packing plant, but keep watching past that.) It also features a beautiful Laura Marling song.



39 thoughts on “Bodies and Souls

  1. I almost wept through this poem, it is so beautiful, so full of love. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I can’t help but think that your mom must be so deeply satisfied with what she is leaving to the world: you, your sister, and your daughters.

  2. What a beautiful journey of changing generations with similarities and differences … let alone the wide range of emotions. Best of luck to your mom, you, and your family. Be strong!

  3. Having thoughts for your mother, Merril, and hoping for a recovery. Even a long life is too short, at the end.

    Regarding the lines about your father, your “no more” perfectly echoes “the dying of the light.”

  4. This is so beautiful. I love the way you trace things through the generations. You are lucky to have such a mother, and such daughters – and they are lucky to have you. All the best to you all, I hope that life is gentle with you.

  5. Beautiful post, Merril. A perfect one for Mother’s Day and sharing the generations of same/different. Loved it.
    All my best wishes to your mom for a prompt recovery!

  6. Thank you for the update on your mother. When I think of her and your family, my thoughts will transmit positive energy, my hope. I have the same diagnosis as your mom’s eye disease, but there is treatment, thank God!

    My caption for your flower photo: Smell me!

    • Thank you very much for your kind thoughts and words, Marian. (And always.) I hope you have better success with treatment for your eyes than my mom has had. The flowers are blooming here, but today’s it’s so cold, I finally gave in and turned the heat back on for a bit. It’s just 50 F–and raining!

  7. Pingback: Bodies and Souls, Part 2 – Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

  8. Beautiful Merril, I love the journey through the family from your mum giving birth to you and your sister to you and your daughters and those songs along the way. Love and hugs to you all.

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