A Final Bloom Before the Cold

Monday Morning Musings:

“It was a happy thought to bring 
To the dark season’s frost and rime 
This painted memory of spring, 
This dream of summertime. “

–John Greenleaf Whittier, “Flowers in Winter”

 

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A surprising last bloom of the geranium in November.

 

A final bloom,

flowers that were vibrant red

fragrant in the summer heat,

now scentless,

a different hue against autumn’s rusts and gold,

in the cold,

a final bloom,

tired, but heroic,

a reminder,

a last hurrah,

as the nights grow longer

and we must grow stronger,

winter is coming.

 

The skies darken and the winds howl,

we huddle under blankets,

fill the house with the scents of cinnamon, apples, pumpkin,

and freshly baked bread,

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Apples cooking for Thanksgiving applesauce

 

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Artisan-style bread to eat with our soup

 

I think of tea and oranges that come all the way from China,

we eat, sustaining ourselves with hearty soup, a hunk of cheese,

a glass of wine and Netflix,

we smile and dance with the opening credits,

wondering where life is headed,

winter is coming.

 

We go to see Loving

a quiet, unassuming film

about the landmark decision,

Loving v. Virginia,

we watch and listen

two ordinary people,

black and white,

they want to marry, not fight,

but their marriage a crime under Virginia law.

I want to scream at the hypocrisy

the result of the slavocracy

of the state of Virginia, how

centuries of miscegenation,

and the degradation

the rape of black women,

and the suffering of families,

and the telling of lies.

But the heart is not silenced

And love still sings.

I cry at the end,

happy with the result that justice brings,

that our system worked then,

(and I think, too, more money to the ACLU.)

 

We discuss the movie over vegetable pakoras,

vegetable soup, naan

yellow dal tarka

and other delights,

a buffet,

and we eat too much,

but they’re all so delicious,

these Indian dishes,

warm and comforting on this cold day

when we sense that winter is coming.

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Autumn leaves against the wind-swept clouds

 

Winter is coming

will we see another bloom?

The bloodred blossoms of civil rights

fading, turning to dust

causes forgotten, results of long fights,

gone with civility,

(utter imbecility)

social contracts, death of the Great Experiment,

But still we know,

that love is love,

and we must shout what’s in our hearts,

Ask not what you can do for your country

Ask not for whom the bell tolls

It tolls for you and me,

good or evil

we are stronger together,

winter is coming.

 

We laugh and talk

Denial?

Well, life must go on

even when the bloom is gone

even in winter.

From within the darkness

we light the candles

to illuminate the room

to cast the shadows to the corners,

amidst the cold,

amidst the gloom,

we seek warmth

and offer shelter

when the winter comes.

 

We prepare for the long winter,

not to be seduced by the stark beauty of the snow

but noticing the cracks in the ice.

The last bloom, as autumn turns to winter,

and we remember spring

a distant, buried memory,

we remember and hope

for new blooms

after the winter comes—

and goes

and spring returns.

 

We saw the movie, Loving.

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Time for blankets–it’s going to be a long winter.

The Light Shines, Over and Over

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By LacZ (Own work), “Sunlight through Pallisades,” [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.”

–Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

 

We pause now to gather strength

to fight for justice

over and over

to strive for courage, hope

lost and then regained

over and over

change happens for good, for bad

thoughts and actions

over and over

two steps forward, one step back

over and over

through the ages

we find the crack

to let the light shine in.

 

 

I wrote this poem yesterday afternoon before I heard of Leonard Cohen’s death. I guess it was of those strange coincidences in life that I had been thinking about him.

This poem is for Secret Keeper’s Writing Challenge.

The prompt words were: Pause/Over/Strength/Age/Change

 

Selma

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By Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

To the bridge they marched, making the decision

though they knew it was risky, in Selma they marched.

They wanted their rights, after years of derision,

struck with clubs and tear gas, they were bloodied and parched.

 

Though they knew it was risky, in Selma they marched

the judge ruled, in court, saying they could march on

struck with clubs and tear gas, they were bloodied and parched,

soon they walked on to Montgomery from evening to dawn.

 

The judge ruled, in court, saying they could march on,

they’d been delayed in Selma, but they were not broken,

soon they walked on to Montgomery from evening to dawn

their stories now heard, their stories now spoken.

 

There have been lakes of sorrows, and lakes of tears,

they wanted their rights, after years of derision,

but a stand must be taken, despite many fears,

to the bridge they marched, making the decision.

 

This is a Pantoum for Secret Keeper’s Writing Challenge.

In a pantoum, the second and fourth lines become the first and third lines of the next stanza, and the poem ends with the first line.

The prompt words were: Broke/Judge/Story/Bridge/Lake

 

The protesters in Selma were marching for civil rights, including the right to vote, as black voters were disenfranchised by various “tests,” poll taxes, and intimidation. State Troopers beat nonviolent protesters as they attempted to cross Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. The day became known as Bloody Sunday. Edmund Pettus, for whom the bridge was named in 1940, was a Confederate general, a U.S. Senator—and a Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. The Selma to Montgomery march began on Sunday, March 21. The marchers reached Montgomery on Thursday, March 25. I took some poetic license with “evening to dawn.”  President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on August 6, 1965.

See “The Racist History Behind the Iconic Selma Bridge”

And “Selma-to-Montgomery March