Suspended

Monday Morning Musings:

Suspended

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
–Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

“We hope. We despair. We hope. We despair. This is what governs us. We have a bipolar system.”
Maira Kalman, And the Pursuit of Happiness

Clouds upon clouds—
an enigma wrapped in mystery,
we follow the clues
but find more questions.

What I mean to say,
is that I—we—are suspended
halfway to here or there

uncertain if we are rising or falling,
like astronauts in zero G
seeking up

or down, confused. The moon floats on the water,
unconcerned geese swim over it, but

another whale is beached, I read,
and I wonder if it, too, was lost,
coordinates off, communications broken–

and now the birds, first indicators.
Perhaps it was always about the birds—
the devilish bones and death rattles of dinosaurs
in their past, they soared into the future,
the evolution of unfurled feathers flapping,
vagabonds of time, soaring

out of the fog, I hear geese honk,
a blue jay squawks–not yet,
a gull laughs.
I walk on. Hoping.

I used some of Jane’s Random Words for this poem.

It already seems a long time since the start of the year. We saw more family members last Monday for brunch, and then met dear friends on Wednesday for a lovely lunch at a Chinese/Japanese restaurant. The temperature was in the 60s that day. Such weird weather—warm, foggy, and then more wintry temperatures over the weekend.

A strange week all around, including the spectacle in our House of Representatives, where it took Kevin McCarthy 15 votes and countless concessions to the right-wing extremists to become Speaker. What a contrast between the mess of the GOP and the unanimous vote by the Democrats for minority leader Hakeem Jeffries. He is quite an orator (Google his name and Alphabet speech if you missed it).

We watched several different types of mysteries this week—so there is a theme here.

Three Pines (Amazon Prime), series inspired by Louise Penny’s books. I’ve read some of the books in her wonderful series, but my husband hasn’t. We both enjoyed the TV series very much. I think Alfred Molina did a great job in portraying Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. This TV series focused on how indigenous people have been treated in Canada. It is darker than the novels, and the magic and warmth of Three Pines itself is not there the way it is in the books, but it is still an excellent series.

The Pale Blue Eye (Netflix) is a solid B movie. It’s a murder mystery with twists set in the winter of 1830 at West Point. Cadet Edgar Allan Poe helps the investigator brought in to solve the mystery of who killed a cadet. It was a good Friday night movie.

Decision to Leave (in theaters and rental) is South Korea’s entry for the 2022 Academy Awards. We both really liked this one, though probably I did more. I’m still thinking about it. It is a twisty tale of murder and romantic obsession with the noirish theme of the male police detective who falls for the beautiful female suspect. Both wonderfully acted. The cinematography/editing is brilliant with the camera giving viewers different points of view and lingering on certain shots.

I’ve recently read and enjoyed two novels:
Joanna Quinn, The Whalebone Theater
Kate Quinn, The Diamond Eye

I don’t know if these two authors are related, but there was a throwaway line in The Whalebone Theater that alluded to the main character in The Diamond Eye, a Russian woman who became a sniper in WWII.

The Eternal Endings and Beginnings

Monday Morning Musings:

The Eternal Endings and Beginnings

“In other words,
once there was air,
a bird
could be got.”
–from Lia Purpura, “Beginning”

I.
In dreams
time has no meaning,
our ghosts live again,
disclose the truth of stories.

II.
Invisible birds call
proclaim themselves in
the grey-blanketed world

where there is only them—
and me—but they are
shapeshifters, black dots
that honk as the mother mallard
laughs

then
the blue of jay, the red of cardinals,
spots of color in the monochrome–

is the universe
what we imagine? What comes first?

III.
Cycles and turnings,
sun, moon, earth,
mother and child
reborn
endings become beginnings–

and now, on New Year’s Day,
here, washed clean, sparkling,
it begins. Again.

Helllo, again. This is my first Monday Morning Musings of the New Year. For those who have been away from blogs, I hope you had a good holiday season, and I wish you a very happy and healthy new year. 2022 was quite a year. Friday will be the anniversary of when the US was almost destroyed. I 2022, I had loved one dies, and I also had my first book of poetry, River Winds, published by Nightingale and Sparrow Press.

At the start of this past week, we got together with family. Our older child and their wife were here with us over Christmas and for a few days. We will see more family and friends this week.

We said goodbye to the old year with wine and cheese from Tria and a virtual tasting. It was a fun and educational event with Tria’s wine director, Lauren Harris and Tria’s Cheese Director, Madame Fromage (Tenaya Darlington) who was in Belgium. I liked everything. My husband and I who do not generally like rosé, enjoyed this sparkling one from Italy, and every single cheese was delicious. Really delicious. It was a good night to stay in, as it was foggy, then rainy outside.
But yesterday, New Year’s Day, was sunny and mild.

In my dream early this morning, my children were still children, my mother was around, and so were old pets. It was a past and now. Old and young, dead and alive.

Perhaps I was influenced by what we watched, The Eternal Daughter, a film by Joanna Hogg in which Tilda Swinton plays both mother and daughter. It’s a definite Merril movie that I highly recommend. It’s a mystery with ghostly overtones set in a grand old house in Wales. Merril movie should tell you that it has layers and that it is not an action film.

We also streamed the Lantern Theater’s one-man show version of A Christmas Carol. We had seen it live a few years ago for my birthday. Dickens used to perform it himself, too. Also highly recommended. My husband said, “I could watch that every year.”

Shows: We re-watched the final two episodes of 1899 with our older child and daughter-in-law. We finished Let the Right One In, a Showtime series based on the movies about a vampire girl and her friendship with a boy who needs friends. It’s vampires, but it’s really a show about family, friendship, and what you will do for love. We had started Wednesday, didn’t love, but went back and ended-up enjoying it.

I’m currently reading, The Whalebone Theater: A Novel by Joanna Quinn, and thoroughly enjoying it. I’m also reading some unpublished manuscripts, and poetry that I will review soon.

November Morning

A Foggy Morning, Delaware River

November Morning

And again
fog, a pewter mist,
a curtain
but threadbare,
patched—here see the scarlet leaf,
the flash of white tail?

I haven’t participated in Tanka Tuesday for a long time. This is a shadorma. The challenge was to include color–though I think for me the challenge would be NOT to include color. 🙂 The photo is from this morning. I saw three deer with their white tails flashing as they ran.

This Wondrous Truth

Monday Morning Musings:

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars”
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 31

“Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines”
–Maya Angelou, A Brave and Startling Truth

Venus, just before Sunrise

Not yet dawn, the robins sing
in twinkling tones that answer stars–
light becoming sound,
the call for love all around,

a song that runs through nature
carried in secret whispers of the wind
heard even in fog-obscured morning
a sun-bright melody pinned

to the coming of spring.

Forsythia in the Fog

Am I the river that murmurs,
the breeze the rustles leaves and grass,
the perfect blue of sky, and the white peony clouds
floating past–

My willow, Dock Creek, Old City Philadelphia, US Custom House in the background

I hear their sigh–
I am everything
the bloom of life, the garden’s laughter, the love the flies
on dragonfly wings, gossamer, then gone–

Reflections, Doubletree Hotel, Broad Street, Philadelphia

the flash of mirrored light
the echoed song

the transformation of grape to wine,
that ephemerality that lingers through
the shape of time
the triangles and circles,
the nebulae of cells
the marvel of blooms
that call birds and bees
in colors beyond what we can see—
the echo of an empty room,

the startling truth of us and stars
in mingled dust, brave as a leaf–
the contradiction of belief,
a tangle of shades and sounds–
a wondrous mess, this existence is ours.

We actually went out this past week! We sat outside at a winery on Wednesday.Purim started that night, and I made Hamantaschen, the triangular filled pastries. We went to a Judy Collins concert on Friday night. That day began with dense fog, then turned to bright sunshine, then got cloudy again. We saw a play on Saturday afternoon. It was a play we were supposed to see the previous Saturday—when it was snowing. What a change in a week! It was almost summery as we walked around Old City Philadelphia before the show. March is living up to its reputation.

Concert, play, wedding stalking, and murals and street art for Resa.


Meanwhile, the craziness of the world continues. The concert venue, the Scottish Rite auditorium in Collingswood said that vaccination/proof of negative Covid tests were required, but they didn’t check. The ushers were masked, as were we, but most people were not. On the Patco train, masks were required, but we were in the minority wearing ours. At the Philadelphia Arden Theater, however, we had to show our vaccination cards and ID, and remain masked.
The war in Ukraine goes on, and the GOP extremists are still peddling Russian disinformation. Sigh. But spring is beautiful.

Judy Collins was wonderful. She can still sing and write, and she’s gracious and funny. The play Tracking Back, was funny and heartwarming—just what we needed.

A Desire for Magic

Monday Morning Musings:

“I don’t want realism. I want magic! . . .I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be truth.”
Blanche , Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

Foggy winter morning. The river is completely obscured.

Fog-clad river flows,
unseen gulls laugh and call, trains
whistle lonesome morning blues,
ghost sounds from a cloud realm,
lull beak-tucked geese in fitful sleep,

and do they dream? In
bird-soul night do they recall
hopes and dreams, or seek magic
in the everyday?
Imagine river-worlds beyond this

clouded grey expanse?
Tomorrow’s sun will erase
the smudges, reveal azure—
there all along–science
of light, magic of perception

how I hear moon-song,
see time rippling like a wave
caught in glass, there a reflection
reveals what could be, or
perhaps what never was. Is this truth–

Merchants Exchange Building, Philadelphia
Carpenters’ Hall, Philadelphia

a poem of rays
that sing in distant domain,
warbled notes of space-time strike
the window, the water,
the river gulls, and streetwise squirrels,

Old City Squirrel, Philadelphia

connecting them all.
Magic and realism both,
the dance of earth, moon, sun, stars
creating life and vision
of colors, all that we can see–

and those beyond our dreams.

Walt Whitman Bridge at Sunset, taken from the car

This is a wayra chain, in case you’re wondering. 😉

We’ve had a week of cold and warm weather, fog and light. The snow has melted, though a little wintry mix fell early this morning, icing sidewalks and coating the cars. We braved the elements and Covid to go to a live theater performance on Saturday afternoon. We saw A Streetcar Named Desire at the Arden Theater in Philadelphia. They checked vaccination cards and IDs, and they required all in the audience to remain masked throughout the performance. It was fun to be out, and the story is moving, even if this was not the best production. We both thought the secondary characters were excellent, and much better than the leads. The man sitting next to my husband couldn’t hear the actors, but for some reason decided to stay for the entire performance.

Today is my daughter’s birthday. She and her now husband were in a wonderful college production of Streetcar—she was Blanche and he was Stanley. Desire struck that Streetcar. When they got married a few years later, the director of the production officiated.

Random Food Photo

Mixed- Berry Crisp for dessert last night

Beyond

A foggy January morning. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

Say there were shadows—there
whispering beneath the fog—and–
say there were blue-sprayed shapes
watching with silent sea-tongues
who wanted you to see

~beyond~

and after,
and if, the bitter blows come,
there is still the luscious scent of summer rain
and a dream of light,
of moon-song’s lingering silver after a storm.

Today’s message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. She always knows. The photo is from my walk earlier this morning.

Silence Comes on Morning Fog

Silence comes on morning fog

shrouding life in grey and white

drifting in, an epilogue

to what has come before, at night,

the starry skies and canorous moon

hidden behind the shadowy clouds–

but listen–silence sings a tune

sometimes soft, sometimes loud,

in the susurration of wind and rain,

in the scurrying from dusk till dawn,

in hearts that beat again and again

there’s never silence till we’re gone.

Caspar David Friedrich, “Sea Beach in the Fog, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dwight, guesting hosting the dVerse poet’s bar, has asked us to write about silence.

 

 

Is it, Was it, Ever Thus?

Show me the beauty

beneath mist a thousand pictures,

in shadow whispers

time’s music urges, please

recall when,

and if—

was it so

or no?

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 12.23.12 PM

 

512px-Monet,_Claude_-_Waterloo_Bridge._Effect_of_Fog

Claude Monet, “Waterloo Bridge, Effect of Fog,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Oracle was being coy today. It took me a few attempts to coax anything from her, and then apparently she looked outside my window to see the misty day.