The Unimaginable Magic


Monday Morning Musings:

“There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is suffering too terrible to name

You hold your child as tight as you can

And push away the unimaginable. . .


There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is a grace too powerful to name. . .


It’s quiet uptown”

-Lin Manuel Miranda, “It’s Quiet Uptown,” Hamilton


“The atoms that huddled for a cosmic blink around the shadow of a self will return to the seas that made us.

What will survive of us are shoreless seeds and stardust.”

–from Maria Popova, Figuring.



 No human voices break the silence,

but robins and mockingbirds sing, a woodpecker pecks,

crows caw wise warnings, geese honk greetings

I hear a whoosh above and a shadow flits before me, gone


my own shadow remains, long-legged, invincible goddess–

if only,

she could push away the unimaginable,

the suffering, the families who will never hear a familiar voice.

She can’t. I can only I look for beauty and share


the way sunbeams sift through early morning clouds,

the astounding variety of flowers in a multiplicity of hues,

rainbows revealed in sprinkler sprays, the sight of a deer family

the charcoal splendor of thunderclouds, the intense blue of the cloudless sky,

color and light, physics and magic, charm and fury—



life itself, cycling love and loss,

we never imagine, don’t expect

plagues, freak accidents, revolutions—

we push away these thoughts

because to do otherwise, we could not go on


and on, we go,

craving life, survival

seeds of hope sprouting in unlikely conditions

growing, reaching for light,

for grace


The tenacity of plants. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, July 2020. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

perhaps unimagined,

silence can be comfortable;

it can be lonely, too–

equal and opposite reactions,

we’re pushed and pulled


from the womb to ashes and dust

we ebb and flow

like the tides of river and sea

and yet traces of us survive forever

in shoreless seeds and stardust—


this is the unimaginable magic of the universe—

that in the sparkle of light on water

the past and future exist together,

holding love, loss

and hope.


Delaware River


Merril’s Movie/Theater Club: We watched the Taiwanese movie A Sun (2019, Netflix). I don’t know if it’s the same in Mandarin, but in English, the title plays on the words sun and son. The movie is about family dysfunction and tragedy; the favored golden son who is working towards entering medical school and the younger son who predictably ends up in juvenile detention. But each member of the family has secrets and depths. After a tragedy, the family dynamics change. Though this movie is perhaps a bit too long, the acting is excellent, and the cinematography is beautiful.


Whitall House with a tree decorated for the Fourth of July. Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

We celebrated Independence Day, the Fourth of July by watching Hamilton (Disney+). I don’t know if this is available outside the U.S. I subscribed to Disney+  for a month just for this, which was a bit annoying, but I don’t plan to keep it, since there’s not much else I’m interested in on that platform. Still, at $7 and change, it’s worth it. We’d pay more for a movie ticket at a theater. This film is compiled from two performances of the original Broadway cast production, but it includes camera angles that you would never see from sitting in the theater. I’ve discussed Hamilton before. Believe all the hype, it really is a wonderful show, and most likely I’ll watch it again while I can.

The excerpted lyrics above are about after Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza’s son Philip is killed in a duel. Alexander and Eliza have been estranged, but in this aftermath of their personal tragedy, they grow close again. Life goes on in the midst of revolutions and tragedies—people fall in love, babies are born, children die. History is never simply about battles and elections.

We ate and drank a glass to freedom (that’s a glass of sangria, banana chocolate chip cake with cream cheese frosting) Ricky was not interested in the first act, but enjoyed the second half. 😏





























45 thoughts on “The Unimaginable Magic

  1. Beautiful poem, Merril. We don’t ignore the less stellar parts of life but we can’t remain focused on them solely. So yes, to looking for the beauty in the every day.

    And now I am contemplating signing up for one month, just to see Hamilton…

    • Thank you so much, Dale. Yes, exactly.

      Do you know the soundtrack of the show? If not, you can get a good idea of what the show is like by listening to that first. But seeing it, adds an extra dimension.

      • 🙂

        I’ve heard snippets of songs but no, I think I’ll splurge. I’ll sign up, watch, cancel! Like you said, it’s less than the price of admission to a movie – even on cheapie nights (Which we have on Tuesdays when the world is normal.)

  2. You are so lucky to have such wonderful scenery for walking and contemplation. The birds still keep me company here though.
    You always give me a good perspective on Mondays. (K)

  3. I watched Hamilton and thought it was compelling, throughout. However, it took half-way through for me to get over my annoyance at the delivery of the lyrics/dialogue in the first third of the story. The rap/hip-hop seemed forced and was a distraction. (I actually do appreciate some rap.)
    That said, I’m sure I’d appreciate these lyrics more if I were to read them as poetry.

    • Interesting, Ken. Different tastes. 😀. I’m assuming maybe you weren’t familiar with the show before watching it? It certainly didn’t seem forced to me. I’m really not much of a hip hop/rap fan, but I like it here. The lyrics really are quite clever.

      • I was familiar with the premise, and understand the irony of black performers representing revered characters of liberation. (While I appreciate that as a social statement, I don’t think it did anything for the telling. I suppose that, in itself, is ironic.)
        The first three or so numbers did not sit well with me. At the time I thought that I’d appreciate it more as slam poetry.

        I try to put in 90 minutes/day on the rowing machine, treadmill & exercise bike, so maybe I’ll sit through that first half and reassess it.

      • It just might not be your thing. I love that opening number. I think that’s the one he originally did for the Obamas.
        But your exercise routine sounds intense. Good for you!

      • The energy in those numbers is important for the message, so I get that. We’ll see what a second viewing does for me.

        I need that routine. I’ve become too sedentary. Heat is not my thing, and that’s the norm for at least seven months here, but I knew that before I moved. I may rise early these days, but I was on second shift for most of my working life and I find it hard to get out of the house before the temperature rises. I save outdoor activities for mid-70s max days, but those are few and far between from mid-April on.

  4. I must see Hamilton, in any of its presentation forms!
    Your prose remains the best of this post. I’m sure you already know that, but I’m just reaffirming.
    We are pushed and pulled, yet I think/feel/see that the pendulum wants to settle in a place: reposed in common joy and well being.
    Beautiful post, Merril!

  5. Again, I sank into your words. The magic of your thoughts that reflect so much of mine. I couldn’t get Disney + on my TV so I’ve been watching Hamilton on my computer (with a big monitor) and embarrassingly, crying through the entire musical. It’s unimaginably magical. The story. The way the story was made into magic, with its hopes and dreams and tragedies and love that still somehow endured/endures.

    • Thank you so much, Pam, for that lovely comment. I’m glad you got to see and enjoyed Hamilton. I’m definitely going to watch it again. We can see it on TV because we have a Chromecast device (how I watch Netflix and Prime, too.). I only cried during the song after Philip’s death and at the end. . . I was couch dancing to some of it because I know the score, much to my husband’s amusement. 😏 (He thought it was good, though he was teasing me about seeing it because he said we’ve already seen it.)

      • I love to couch dance also! Did I mention the book My Dear Hamilton? Historical fiction that is a fabulous read with the full Schuyler/Hamilton story. I highly recommend it. My grandfather’s name was Philip Schuyler – we go way back, we Schuylers. 🙂

      • I think you and someone else mentioned it on FB. I can get it through Hoopla, but I’ll wait till I’ve finished what I’m reading now. I had forgotten your Schuyler ancestry. Do you know how you’re connected?

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