Blink, and Look Again

Monday Morning Musings:

Blink, and Look Again

“There’s a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes. . .”
Emily Dickinson,

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant —”
Emily Dickinson

I have more to say about images,
the ones within the ones in frames,
the shadows and reflections,
the dreamworlds
and the in-between

what you see and don’t,
the half-glimpsed, and
the quickly vanished.

Consider the photos
of galaxies beyond, the ghost light we see,
a miracle, amazing, full of color, brighter
than what we’ve ever seen before—

and yet,
it’s a blink from the past,
there’s no way to capture the present,
and hold it tight,

Eagles and Crows at the River

each second flies,
but why do some move so swiftly
on eagle wings,
while others linger,
as bees on flowers–
some burst bright-blossomed,
others fade like the moon
smiling into sunrise clouds,
but most tick past, tiny ants
in the dirt of time.

Quickly, how our babies grow.
Suddenly, how summer skin turns cold.
The green world is dying,
the world is burning and frying,
the grass is crunchy,
the ponds and streams are dry.
We close our windows, turn on the a/c,
say goodbye,
then eat our salads, as so many die.

Life wasn’t simpler before,
we simply didn’t want to know
all the worlds are connected,
the future holds the past.

Who is the woman in the mirror?
What happened to the dark-haired girl?
See my long-legged shadow? A super-hero
in another realm
who bends the light, to see the slant,
in that,
a prism of colors, truth abloom—
perhaps, more than one timeline in this room.

My shadow in the light at Red Bank Battlefield

My readers know I love time, shadows, reflections, and all the in-between things. I’m still thinking about the exhibit we saw Pictures in Pictures,

Self-Portrait in a Dresser Mirror: Cream Hill, 1930, Wanda Gág–Philadelphia Museum of Art

as well as recent movies mentioned in previous posts (Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes and Everything Everywhere All at Once) and then Emily Dickinson popped into my head (as she does) 😏. And the recent Webb Telescope Photos. Now we’re watching Shining Girls (Apple TV), starring Elisabeth Moss, which combines searching for a serial killer who attacked her and time travel—shifting realities. We’re about half-way through the series. Here’s the trailer. I hadn’t watched it before. You probably know already if you’d like this type of show.

It’s been too hot to go anywhere. We may get storms tonight. I’m hoping we get steady rain, not a sudden burst. We had a lot of rain in the spring and early summer, but now everything is very dry from the extreme heat.

There’s been a lot of bird action at the river recently. I’ve seen the young eagle a few times, and once watched crows chasing it.

We’ve been eating this tomato salad a lot for dinner. I never was that fond of tomatoes, but these fresh Jersey farm stand tomatoes with salt, good olive oil, fresh basil, and some fresh mozzarella, along with bread to mop up the juice, are the perfect hot weather dinner.

Summer farm stand tomatoes, olive oil, basil from out garden–delicious!


Crow— nest building


The robins have been singing for hours
when the crows awaken with raucous chatter
shattering the morning peace with treetop banter
leaves shake, and branches quake, a squirrel squawks back,

but the crows continue to squabble–about mundane chores,
the everyday–yet keeping watch for hawks and eagles,
daring to yell at them, too. They strut across the grass, kings
and queens, then launch with elongated wings outspread,

to look for food or treasures. Finding some or finding none,
never mind, not nevermore, they cry with knowledge of the past,
millions of years of wisdom.

Listen to the crows. Black feathers shake as they exhort,
not a murder, but a plan. Fate, justice, the circle of time?
They know what is known. And the mysteries beyond
what we can see—what could, what might be.

For dVerse, where Ingrid has asked us to write about corvids. Most of you probably know I love crows. I was watching a crow couple at the park this morning. They were arguing in a tree, and they seemed like an old married couple. This is a first draft, written quickly.😏

Crow Dreams

Monday Morning Musings:

Crow Through the Trees, April Morning

Crow Dreams

“Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.”
–Langston Hughes, Dreams

Storm-dark clouds turn sunrise pink
daffodils toss their heads and quip,
eagles soar, mockingbirds sing, it’s spring

and bombs explode, mothers cry, lovers part, a child’s song
bursts from the heart
atrocities and carnage—I read of ancient Troy, I read of today–
nothing changes, and the world spins,
another day

of hope and grief, for building nests and
laying eggs, now greenery grows–
the cherry trees bloom—
the petals fall
soft rain
quiet tears,

tiny shoes
placed on a mall.

The crows have been very busy.

I dream of birds, of red-winged blackbirds chirping
against a peacock-blue sky, of
dusky crows on slate-grey rocks, gazing
as the river’s azure ribbon flows—
what does it know?

My dreams are the colors of portend and possibility,
breadcrumb paths from my subconscious
for me to follow and taste.
I toss Cheerios to the crow,
essential elements that dissolve on the tongue
like thoughts, like dreams
I hold them fast, I let them go.

Crow (with twig)

I’ve had a couple dreams about crows lately, and other morning I wrote the last couple stanzas of this poem while I was waking and still in bed. After I wrote it, I thought of the Langston Hughes poem, and then I went back and wrote the beginning of the poem.

Overnight we had a frost advisory, but then on Wednesday and Thursday we’re going to have summer-like weather. That will be the end of the daffodils.

Merril’s Movie, TV, Book Club:
This week we watched Apollo 10 ½ (Netflix). It was enjoyable–a sweetly, nostalgic fantasy for people who grew up in the 1960s.
However, I LOVED The Worst Person in the World. It was Norway’s entry for the Academy Awards, and it is on several best movie of the year for 2021 lists (including Barack Obama’s).
So, it’s a definite Merril movie—if you’re looking for popular, action films, this isn’t it. It was worth seeing simply for Renate Reinsve’s peformance. She was wonderful as Julie, a young woman who is trying to find herself. I’ve seen it described as a sort of anti-rom-com, in that there is romance, but. . .

Also—my first poetry collection, River Ghosts, published by Nightingale and Sparrow Press, is out in the world! I don’t have a copy yet, but you can get yours here. Or available soon here.

All the Dreams Fly Like Birds

Monday Morning Musings:

“Sueñito, it means ‘little dream.’”
–In the Heights

Three Crows on an Uprooted tree, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Three crows sit on an uprooted tree,
gods, fate, or destiny?
Day to night, birth to death, changes come—
love and regrets,

of words unspoken, of dreams unachieved,

but in the balance of all things–

“Like a Bird on a Wire.” (Leonard Cohen)

seeds are planted, and eggs hatched,
in fertile soil, with care and light,
life blooms, the cycle resumes,

seasons spun in revolutions
of the earth, and thoughts that spark like stars,
the universe of the mind, our Milky Way inside

in glittering array. Sometimes enlightenment
comes our way,

dream-born, though dreams evolve
with the dancing of your heart and the echoes
of the stars,

the fire in your eyes
and reflections from the sky,
the whys and when return again
revolving into something new—

the evolution of dreams come true.

Between storms. Early Morning, the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

We are dust from the stars,
and rise from the sea,
we wing and dive–fate or fait accompli?
Ever-soaring dreams blowing
through earth, sky, and blue-water flowing.

It is definitely summer in southern NJ! Heat, humidity, storms—and then an occasional beautiful day. We went out once this week for a trivia night at a winery. We were not allowed to have our phones out during the rounds, so I only got this one photo.

Trivia Night at Sharrott Winery

Merril’s Movie Club—We watched two movies this week, and I would watch both of them again. One you’ve probably heard of, and one you probably have not heard about. Our friends invited us to a movie night at their house, so we could watch In the Heights. (We don’t have HBO, and they do. It’s also playing in theaters.) You may or may not know that I love musicals, and this one combines Lin Manual Miranda’s songs with old-fashioned movie musical choreography and vision. Dreams (and immigrants and DREAMers) is a recurring theme in the movie. All the actors are wonderful. My friend, Pat (the one in charge of rainbows) had a bounty of farm-fresh summer vegetables and made a grilled a vegetable lasagna. I made brownies because. . .well, chocolate.

My husband and I also saw Undine, the most recent movie by German director Christian Petzold. (Rental through Amazon.) It stars the two leads from his previous movie, Transit, which my husband and I both really enjoyed. We also both liked this one, though maybe not quite as much. The movie is a sort of modern re-telling of the ancient myth of the water nymph, Undine. My husband, who had never heard of the legend of Undine, saw the movie as a metaphor of Berlin. So, it’s clearly not a movie for people who like straight-forward stories. It’s dreamy and has a beautiful score (mainly the adagio from Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974), but also “Stayin Alive), and we had a great discussion about it afterwards.

We had some wine and cheese to nibble on while we watched the movie.

Movie Watching Companion

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.








Vincent van Gogh, “Wheatfield with Crows,” [Public Domain] Wikipedia Commons


crow calls, beckoning,

rosy-robed sun arises,

new day awakens

with murdered conversation,

echoes in black-winged flutter


I’m still waiting for the sun to rise. This tanka is for Frank’s Hakai challenge (crow) and Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday.  And another van Gogh–because you can feel the movement and hear the echoes in this one.

Dying Crow: Haibun

This is for Frank Tassone’s haikai challenge. He asks us to write about ravens, but he also says “kangarasu translates as ‘cold crow,'”  so I’m going with that. I really like crows. When my daughters were little, there was some sort of illness that killed many crows. I knew not to touch the dying crow in my yard, and I called animal control. They collected his body at some point while I was away.


I hear the sounds of crows cawing, over and over. They have gathered in the trees around their fallen friend, as he lay dying on the ground in my backyard. I stare into his eyes, which seem to plead with me. What is he asking? How do I answer?  I want to comfort him. I wish I could. His eyes still haunt me.


windows to the soul

dying crow’s thoughts never voiced

winter without spring



Mikoláš Aleš [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons