Bread and Roses

Monday Morning Musings:

Early morning in December, Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Scarlet, russet, orange, green—
the colors bright against the sky
pewter, lead, as clouds fly

Color against the grey river and sky. Delaware River, Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

one day bluster, one day calm
gulls and geese mind the storm
of swirling wind, cold and warm

opposites attract,
or do they simply fight
in thunderous rumbles, a response to flight.

In darkness, we seek light,
in longest night, the dawn
apricot and pink, shy sparkle then gone

but where do we go
when hate comes again
cycles of not if, but when

in endless journeys,
ships in the night, dreams
of a future— streams

of thought from the past,
ancestral visions caught or checked?
What happened, what comes next?

We need both bread and roses
to survive, to thrive
beyond existence, life and alive

to hope and beauty–
to plants seeds, then wait
for others to germinate

tender buds, well-nourished—
bread and roses, not
blood and lies, a nation fraught

with dangerous thoughts
bread and roses, not mobs and guns—
the ones

who shout loudest attract a crowd,
but circles and seasons, round and round
the sun rises, beams from sky to ground,

even if we’re not here, even if no one is around,
the star-birds twinkle and sing, wing light
into the future, red and blue shifts bright beyond our sight—

and perhaps—

some travelers in some time hence
may see not only relics of destruction and fear,
but traces of love sown and grown, still echoing here.

I found a heart.

The weather has been strange, and the news has been frightening.
We took a trip to Longwood Gardens last week just to get out of the house. We wore masks indoors, though some did not. We had a recent COVID scare, but fortunately my husband and I both tested negative. Yet some people still refuse to wear masks or get vaccines and believe the pseudo-science they hear.

My theme was also inspired by this Marginalian post about Rebecca Solnit on George Orwell’s Roses. Bread and Roses was a poem set to music and used as a union marching song.

Last night we watched an interactive streaming play called Witness by the Arlekin’s Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab. It shares the experiences of the Jewish refugees on the St. Louis, which left Germany in 1939, only to be turned away in Cuba, and then other countries, and combines them with stories from more recent Jewish immigrants from Russian and Ukraine, along with discussions of recent acts of anti-Semitism. It was interesting and thought provoking. My grandparents came from what is now Belarus and Ukraine.

This morning I saw so many vultures just down the street from where I live. I could hear their wings flapping. It was thrilling.

52 thoughts on “Bread and Roses

  1. Beautiful photos, Merril! I love these lines (although it was hard to choose which lines I loved the most):
    “even if we’re not here, even if no one is around,
    the star-birds twinkle and sing, wing light
    into the future, red and blue shifts bright beyond our sight—”
    This feels hopeful to me, despite the horror of our times.

  2. So interesting that your relatives came from the exact same places as the gardener’s–Belarus and Ukraine! Maybe you’re related . . . .
    Lots of beauty here though. You are a breadmaker and your poems are roses!

  3. I did not know that was the origin of Bread and Roses.
    The natural world is still spectacular, despite our best efforts to cover it in blood. I too am dreading the next elections and everything leading up to it. (K)

  4. Such STUNNING pictures and a wonderful poem! A very wholesome post. The sceneries in the images are so ethereal and EXQUISITE! The sky is captured so masterfully.
    A phenomenal post! 👌😀

  5. Lovely post Merril thank you … those colours not just at Longwood Gardens – all the other one too. Yes, not if any longer but when – it’s as well that we appreciate the simple and fine things of life like bread and roses. Glad that your tests were negative. I pray for Belarus & Ukraine …

  6. Yes, we need both bread and roses. And we need poems…poems and musings as we try try try to make some sense out of this world. Or at least within ourselves. Going to Longwood Gardens was a wonderful idea. Walking through (well-trimmed and tended) nature is a natural high. When I Iived in DE long long ago with little babies, I got an annual pass and drove the 30 minutes to LG to de-stress and relax. Walking around all of those acres, breathing in the air, listening to the bells ringing, watching the fountain streaming (with on ein a stroller and one a frontpack) – it all helped me be a better mother! Now, when we drive down to MD to visit family, we spend a day at LG – an amazing place that so few know about. Thanks for sharing.

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