More on Heroes and Hearts

Swirls Over Spruce

Spruce Street, Old City

Monday Morning Musings:

“She preferred imaginary heroes to real ones, because when tired of them, the former could be shut up in the tin kitchen till called for, and the latter were less manageable.”

–Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

“i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”

–e.e.cummings “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]”



Ancient voices carried on a breeze

float beneath the moon

in leaf-rustle, they speak

in each footfall, they keep time

and secrets


that whirl in dusty motes

gathering in silvery specks,

specters of the past

the echo of their heartbeats

caught in a laugh, a scent, a cry.



Harriet was a true hero,

but she was a woman, too,

who loved and laughed and cried

and if the playwright has her move through time

is that so odd


because we still hear her voice,

don’t we?

She walked down this street or that one, perhaps

here the enslaved reached freedom,

here refugees still hide


Second Street, Old City Philadelphia (From the Arden Theater) Merril D. Smith 2020

their hearts full

or broken.

I learn my friend’s heart literally broke

the day before Valentine’s Day–

but it is patched, stents installed


to let his blood flow.

Another friend has an artificial heart,

but like the Tin Man

she doesn’t need a heart

to love or be loved.


I read that the Giant Heart in the Franklin Institute

has been refurbished–

it now has the soundtrack of a real heart

with beats that echo

through time and space


like Harriet in the play,

like the memory of my grandfather

popping up from the giant heart’s artificial valves

to show me and my little sister

that it was a safe space


a place I carry

a memory of a heart

carried in my heart

his heart and that heart

in my heart, they echo


as do the voices of women

leading “lives of quiet desperation”

that the assistant sees in the movie

and what can she do

till enough people speak and the system changes


as whistles are blown

and heroes speak the truth

even as rich and petty men besmirch them

retaliating with the power of wealth and position–

tin men without the shadow of a heart.


But still,

I bake chocolate hearts

for all the hearts I carry inside

and we celebrate love

and heroes–


because both

transcend time and space.



We saw My General Tubman, a new play by Lorene Cary at the Arden Theatre.

We went to the Wine and Chocolate event at William Heritage Winery.

Merril’s Movie Club: we saw The Assistant, a bleak but excellent movie with an outstanding performance by Julia Garner.

We also finished Counterpart. We really enjoyed the two seasons. It’s on Prime, and apparently Starz cancelled it because they didn’t feel it appealed to female viewers (!).  You know how women don’t enjoy well-developed plots and complex storylines (rolling eyes).






























31 thoughts on “More on Heroes and Hearts

  1. “tin men without the shadow of a heart.” — an apt description for a plethora of you-know-who’s ;0) But love threads through your poem and I’m left feeling warm and fuzzy in a bounty of hearts.

    • Somehow that just slipped in when I started thinking about the movie. The assistant’s boss is definitely supposed to make us think of Harvey Weinstein–and then that made me think of all the others. But I’m glad that overall this made you feel warm and fuzzy. 🙂

  2. I love your musing on hearts. Really made me think, plus it’s been a topic I’ve been lingering and loitering around in some writing. You always bring me back to food and the comforts of home. You must have some of your planetary configurations in the House of Cancer.

  3. May all hearts bear their joys and sadnesses with grace and humour. So many threads so many acknowledgements woven so deftly and such a pleasure to read, thank you Merril. I hope your friends are doing well ..

  4. I enjoyed Harriet, the movie, and Little Women too. Because we have Prime video, we’ll check out Counterpart.

    You and Doug have perfected facial expressions, including eye rolls and gasps – ha!

    • Thank you, Marian.
      This play was very different from the Harriet movie, but we enjoyed it.
      I don’t know if Counterpart is the type of thing you like, but J.K. Simmons and the rest of the cast are so good, and the idea is really interesting.
      Yes, we’re a strange pair. 😉

  5. What a beautiful post (sorry I’m late!) Perfect for Valentine’s Day weekend. Love the goofy faces! You two are like two peas in a pod…
    And since I’m late, happy birthday to Douglas!

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