The Before and the After

Monday Morning Musings:

“For every atom belonging to me as good
Belongs to you.

SINGULARITY by Marie Howe (after Stephen Hawking) 


Before the before,

or perhaps, after the after

of each birth, of each death

we are not,

and then we are


the dust of centuries,

circling round

what we know,

and what we’ve forgotten

of love and time and belonging


to stars and earth and sea—

remember this, I say to myself,

I say to you, remember when?

And we laugh, remembering

what it was like


to be with people,

to sit outside on a summer night–

the things we thought we’d always have,

forgetting time circles

back to the before and the after

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she died and he died–

mothers and fathers and children–

and who is to say the momma duck

does not love her offspring as much as we,

or what they remember of before

This video doesn’t exist


they swam in a river.

Crow voices his concerns, proclaims and prompts

us to action that we ignore,

like the goose looking for the tastiest grass,

we go about our lives, walking past


the river, watching reflections,

reflecting on a world upside down,

tide and time-rippled,

sparkling, then clouded over

like an aged brain


Tree reflection on Delaware River

filled with hidden recesses

and paths that lead to unexpected spaces—

the road not taken

to the wolf in the woods, to sleeping beauty,

to a forgotten love


before the before–

or, perhaps, after the after,

when the sun does not rise again,

imploding instead, and we are atoms,

dust returning light to the stars, remembering.


Portrait in Blue Goose on the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, July 2020 ©️Merril D. Smith



We actually went out to a winery last week–Vino and Vibes at William Heritage Winery. With cases in the U.S. going up (though not so much in New Jersey), we may not do it again, but it the tables were well spread out—much more than six feet apart. Everyone wore masks when they were not at their own reserved tables, so it seemed as safe as anything is these days. My siblings and I are in the process of clearing out the storage unit where all of my mom’s stuff went after she died. Everything has been complicated by the Covid 19 situation and the need to keep socially/physically distant.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched a new Australian horror movie, Relic, which I thought was very scary—perhaps because it deals with dementia, which is terrifying to me anyway. We also watched the French movie, The Midwife, which is about family and relationships and has wonderful performances by Catherine Frot, as the midwife, Catherine Deneuve as a woman from her past, and Olivier Gourmet, as a gardening, truck driver neighbor. I liked both movies more than my husband did. We’re also about two thirds done with the third and final season of the German show, Dark (on Netflix). We are totally lost and confused, but loving it anyway.






46 thoughts on “The Before and the After

      • I’ll definitely be checking out the French one (Assuming I have it, of course.)
        I haven’t gone for a walk in over a week. It’s been soul-sucking hot and when I’m off work, I am recuperating! Maybe later today…

      • The Midwife was on Amazon. It’s from 2017. I hadn’t been out for a walk in several days because it was so hot and humid here. It was hot when I got home at 8 something AM, but it wasn’t so humid today. It was actually really beautiful when I set out.

      • It’s actually reasonable-ish today and I think I might take a chance later. I’m so drained after my 13-hours at the canteen that I have no juice left… I feel like I work in a sweat-shop. So gross. I dunno if I’ll even last the sason.

      • It really is. But here’s the funny thing. I do enjoy the cooking part and the customers are really nice. The heat just overrides everything else…

      • Oh. . .could they set up an outdoor fan for you? I assume where you are the heat is not going to last, but the weather seems to be as crazy as everything else in this world. . .

      • I have a small A/C unit and we have a fan set up to blow the cool towards the rest of the hut. However, the new unit is coming in so that will make a huge difference.
        I’ll send you pics on Messenger, to give you an idea.

      • Hahaha. No. I just don’t want spam and scams. Seriously yesterday I got like ten messages from someone I don’t really know or communicate with. If he had something he really wanted to tell me, then he could add a personal message, right? If I just get so and so sent you a photo or attachment, without a message, then I’m not going to open it because it’s usually junk, but it could be a virus.

  1. I love this so much Merril thank you time weaves in and out and in between and the pauses. And the photographs, invariably beautiful snatches of Nature and food …

  2. Thanks for the crow and goose. And beautiful reflections.
    And I’m glad you got out for wine. My sister-in-law was just saying that she suddenly realized this was going to be going on for a very long time. It did not have to be this way. That’s the depressing part.
    But in the ends, yes, we will join with other elements and perhaps become something new. (K)

    • Thanks, Kerfe. Yes, some places in the country are really bad now, and I’m afraid it’s going to get worse everywhere. And of course, when it gets cold, what will happen? And what will happen with schools? Our younger daughter is a teacher, and my husband is teaching part-time.

      • I’m worried about schools too. No one seems to be considering the adults involved, from janitors to aides to lunch ladies to teachers. My nephew teaches high school physics at a private boarding school with many foreign students and they still haven’t figured things out. As he says, the motivated will do well no matter what,but some need classroom instruction to thrive, or even to just get by.

  3. You are getting to be quite the multi-media expert, Merril. Thanks for the introspection, a reflection I found bittersweet, especially the line “remember when?” recalling sisters and other friends gathering to share for real.

    The tree reflection on the Delaware looks like a watercolor, simply exquisite. And thanks for the movie suggestion, The Midwife. I’ll have to check it out. ((( )))

  4. Merril, how did you know that this would be a safe place to attend? We haven’t done anything, and it’s because we don’t know where to trust the safety.
    Love your photos!

    • Thank you, Luanne. Of course we didn’t “know” that it would be safe, but we know the winery. We’re wine club members there. I received several emails from them describing how it would work, and I’ve seen photos on social media. So, I knew they were only doing a limited number of reserved tables, and that they would be wiping down everything before it opened. My husband went into the winery briefly to buy the wine, and then I gave him a wipe to clean his hands. The food truck just required him to put his card into a reader–but no touching or pressing buttons. We had decided in advance that if it did not seem safe, then we would just turn around and go home. Are things even open in your state right now?

  5. These lines, along with the accompanying tree reflection photograph particularly spoke to me:

    we go about our lives, walking past

    the river, watching reflections,

    reflecting on a world upside down,

    tide and time-rippled,

    sparkling, then clouded over

    like an aged brain.

    On another note, I watched the trailer for “Relic” and put it on my watch list.

  6. Every moment is both before and after, but this one seems prolonged in both senses.
    As in “things will never be the same,” while waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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