Reflections: Shadows and Light

Billy Penn Reflecting on Philadelphia--Merril D. Smith, May 2019

Monday Morning Musings:

“But it is only in epic tragedies that gloom is unrelieved. In real life tragedy and comedy are so intermingled that when one is most wretched ridiculous things happen to make one laugh in spite of oneself.”

–Georgette Heyer,  Civil Contract

“Here in the moving shadows

I catch my breath and sing–

My heart is fresh and fearless

And over-brimmed with spring.”
–from Sara Teasdale, “May Night”


Here the ghost eyes eternity

looking through a window

from the after

flying through fires of if

laughing at when

they embraced,

in heartbeats

measured time


My heart is over-brimmed

as my mother’s eyes fill

and weak are her limbs.


Days move from freezing rain

to summer heat

and I reel from pain


of seeing her so.


But nature and comedy

make me smile and laugh

and provide a remedy

both constant and temporary–

because life is full of

tragedy and joy, the extraordinary


and ordinary

of illness, broken cars, and trains delayed

–and the first strawberries


of the season

the scent alone

a reason


to celebrate life

and being here

friends, family, husband, wife—


we go through shadows

seek light,

and who knows


what will be, and if anything will be right

(the world sighs)

but there, the light


comes through the trees

and we drink coffee

savor moments, these

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

small joys, please–

the walks and shadow shows

pizza, wine, dogs—these


simple pleasures bring

to our hearts even in winter

feelings of spring


(briefly in my mother’s eyes)

and comedy and tragedy both fly

dancing to the tune

of the moon’s lullaby.

Full Moon over Woodcrest Station


Thank you for all the good wishes for my mom. She has improved some from her stroke, and we were able to take her outside yesterday for a little while. We saw our son-in-law perform a stand-up routine at Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia, and we saw Manual Cinema’s Ada/Ava at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. This is the second time we’ve seen one of their shows.  They’re hard to describe–but combine shadow puppets, actors, and live music to create something unique. If you get a chance, see them perform. There’s a video on this Kimmel Center link.




38 thoughts on “Reflections: Shadows and Light

  1. I love reflections and so does my husband. Once on our way downtown, Cliff, the driver, was staring at a reflection on a skyscraper and nearly crashed our car. My scream saved the day!

    And I share Derrick’s wish for your mother’s recovery.

  2. I’m glad to hear your mother is improving. I hope that continues.
    I love your images of light and shadow. They go well with your beautiful weaving of words. ❤

  3. These ups and downs can be trying for your mother, and on you. That you are there for her comes as no surprise, as your posts have always shown how close you are to your family. I’m glad she had that good day to enjoy the fresh air.

  4. As others have said, I too am glad your mum had a day with you and yours outside. Sadly the ups and downs will continue but I hope she (and you) can still look forward to more such days. By the way, I had to smile at the mention of strawberries as a reason to celebrate life. Here’s why: a cousin who grew up in upstate NY lived for several years in Arizona and then decided to return to NY and its long, dark winters. At one point, she told me that when it got to be around February, she would feel almost suicidal from the relentless cold and dark. And then she’d remember the strawberry picking that she and other cousins and friends would enjoy. Just the idea of fresh-picked strawberries got her through the darkest time.

    • Thank you very much, Marie, for your comments. Yes–all of what you said about my mom. I love your friend’s strawberry story. I honestly haven’t had any fresh Jersey strawberries yet, but I saw the signs up at a stand, and I will get some soon. And your friend’s story made me think of all the fun times I’ve picked strawberries. When we picked them with our girls when they were young, we always had strawberry shortcake for dinner! 🙂

  5. I love how you view life – the tragedy and the comedy intermixed and interspersed within the drama and daring of life. (I believe I view it all similarly.) I’m glad your mom is getting better. My guy and I drove down to see my mom in DE a week ago – her dementia even deeper (if possible), me trying not to cry, but at one point laughing at her sudden smile, wondering what and who she sees. ❤

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