Dreams of Generations

Monday Morning Musings:

“Time makes room

for going and coming home

and in time’s womb

begins all ending.”

From Ursula K. Le Guinn, “Hymn to Time”


“Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset

Swiftly fly the years

One season following another

Laden with happiness and tears”

–from “Sunrise, Sunset” Jerry Brock and Sheldon Harnick, Fiddler on the Roof


The dream flits,


spreading its wings

and soars

as the moon whispers

and shadows dance–

circles of light,

circles of darkness,

together, apart

beginnings and endings

all one thing,

in time



A hot July day

time with a friend

not wanting it to end


we drink, eat stay

talking of what was

and what now is, because


we’re catching up

he knew us way back when–

the before, and then

The Cool Lights! Revolution House, Philadelphia

we went our own ways

but kept in touch—

and now this lunch


though life intrudes

as I get texts about my mother

one after another


but still we laugh

then part, agree to meet

again soon—sweet


are friendships,

fleeting is time,

the clock chimes



through city streets

in buzzing beats


between the pauses, I feel

dreams rise from the cobblestones

beneath us buried bones.



We watch a movie

of fantasy and dreams

and my mom dreams, it seems


not certain of what is real

sometimes, but to her

fantasies, we defer.


And it is hotter now

some water ice to keep cool

in shaded bower, where statued pools

spray and children play

while others kept in cages

cruelty growing in stages


“Lock them up!” “Send them back,”

the ugly crowds chant

as the demagogue rants


and I listen to the fiddler play

and Yiddish spoken–

a culture not yet broken


entirely, and being revived

though they tried to kill us

six million then—but let’s discuss


how hate never goes away

entwined with fear

year after year


beneath the surface

like a dream.

Do you hear the scream


of those in a nightmare life

who are fleeing?

What are you seeing


when children in cages

appear before you?

Ho, hum, it’s nothing new.


Japanese, Jews, camps

of them, this and that–

and off them someone gets fat


(follow the money)

through history. We watch

a movie–does the cop botch


his life,

or is it ordained

as we see it explained


backwards through time.

Sci-fi and noir, violence and lust–

was it a story that must,


that always ended a certain way?

So many ifs and could-have-beens,

the outs and ins


of love and time

dances in circles, intertwine—



but the sun rises and sets

through our laughter and tears

and the years


circle in seasons

round and round–

light and darkness abound.



We watched two Netflix movies this week. In Sicilian Ghost Story, I liked the way dreams were a key part of the story and the fantasy of it; my husband not so much. We both liked The City of Last Things.  The story is told backwards in time.

I listened to this Fresh Air episode about the Yiddish version of Fiddler on the Roof. Well worth the listen, if you have the time.





































In Transit

Monday Morning Musings:


“Ports are places where stories are told.”

Transit (2019)

“Time is being and being
time, it is all one thing,
the shining, the seeing,
the dark abounding.”

–Ursula K. Le Guin, “Hymn to Time.” Full poem and more here.


We travel here to there

and back again

full moon shimmers

then grey clouds reign


The movie set in a sort of purgatory–

or is it hell?

Well, there they dwell


in a timeless space,

1942, or perhaps today,

first Paris, then Marseilles


where the man

and all the refugees

flee and plea


and then they wait

for updates—human freight

telling their stories—annotate


in endless exposition

tales of existential despair

they share, aware



of soldiers raiding houses

and the whispers of cleansing and camps–

there mark with the official stamps


the necessary papers

but another visa always needed

and time passes on, unheeded


are the pleas

there’s no direct here to there

false names and identities, stare


now at your betrayer

and then betray–

go again, or stay


it’s all the same, it seems

the stuff of nightmares and false dreams

of hope


of getting out.

And is the story even reliable,

truth seems rather pliable


on “The Road to Nowhere”

echoes sigh and ghosts flitter

and titter, while fear litters


the air—here

now in this my port city

ghosts also walk, in close proximity

to us, all around,

people who came to escape, in fear,

in tears and sometimes a cheer


for whiskey and beer

refugees arriving each year

surviving or dying—the crying


of those left behind

and so here my ancestors also arrived

and mostly thrived,


but what of the untold tales

and the stories that are told,

of the days of old,


perhaps embroidered details

come to sit atop the truth

but lost, the tales of grandparents’ youth


I learn, when vision fails,

the brain fills the void with what has been

projecting patterns on the unseen screen


My mom says, I see it there

like a bird cage

it covers your face, your hair–


a cage without

birds, visions in transit sprout

high–set free to fly


So, we eat hamantaschen

and we drink some wine, it’s fine

because tomorrow we may be


between sun and moon

halfway from here to there–

in transit.


In another movie

a woman time-travels

trying to unravel

Homemade pizza and Netflix

timelines to save a boy

and her daughter—her joy

lost if time’s not changed again


between storms, or mirage,

stories hidden between and around

suddenly lost, suddenly found


like spring when trees and flowers smile

and dance the secret of all breathing

and times stops, but just for a while

a short embrace

of light–a kissing space

to gather pace


ourselves, geese in V flight

we set off, for the light

or like mockingbirds all night–sing

Geese at Red Bank Battlefield

our stories

in transit,

transitory always,

like shadows and spring


Last week was strange and surrealistic, as I’ve noted elsewhere. We saw the movie Transit. Trailer here.  [Dale see] this new movie by Christian Petzold is bold, intriguing, and haunting. I keep thinking about it. One review said something like it’s Casablanca as written by Kafka. So, you know, my kind of movie.  I really liked his previous movies Barbara and Phoenix, too, and the director has said he sees them as a sort of trilogy. I didn’t know until afterward that the movie was based on a novel written in 1944 and set in 1942, but there are no direct references to that time in the movie.

We also saw Mirage, a Spanish movie on Netflix. Trailer here. It was good, with echoes of a Twilight Zone episode in the use of TVs–but you probably shouldn’t watch it during a storm.




Love is Calling



“I have not spent a day without loving you; I have not spent a night without embracing you; I have not so much as drunk one cup of tea without cursing the pride and ambition which force me to remain apart from the moving spirit of my life. In the midst of my duties, whether I am at the head of my army or inspecting the camps, my beloved Josephine stands alone in my heart, occupies my mind, fills my thoughts. If I am moving away from you with the speed of the Rhone torrent, it is only that I may see you again more quickly. If I rise to work in the middle of the night, it is because this may hasten by a matter of days the arrival of my sweet love. …
Napoleon to Josephine

Last night I was telling one of our daughters that after her dad proposed to me I couldn’t wait to call my sister to tell her the news. To do so, I had to use the pay phone in the hallway of the college dormitory. My husband and I met when we were in ninth grade. He sat in front of me in English class. He used to borrow pencils, pens, and paper from me. I, of course, was a good student and always prepared for class. (Did you doubt this?)

The first time he called me, my sister answered the phone, yelled that the call was for me, and because she’s my sister, she announced to the household, “It’s a boy!” Before cordless phones, much less cell phones existed, we shared a family phone that had an extra long cord that was frequently knotted and tangled. It was located on a small table in an alcove between the living room and kitchen. My boyfriend, now husband, and I spent hours talking on the phone and preventing anyone else from calling—because, yes, there was no Call Waiting either.

I think about how lovers in the past often had to endure long separations without being able to communicate, and sometimes not knowing if they would ever see each other again. When John Winthrop, first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, left for New England in 1630, his pregnant wife, Margaret did not travel with him. The couple arranged to “meet in spirit till we meet in person” on Mondays and Fridays “at five of the clock at night.” Margaret did join him in New England about a year later.

Before telephones and telegraphs, lovers could only communicate over distances by writing letters. Often they had to overcome obstacles such as the expense or scarcity of ink, quills, and paper, and the problems of getting letters over mountains, across seas, and in and out of prisons. Sometimes people had to wait months to send a letter with a traveler or a ship going to a particular destination. Moreover, many people could not read or write and had to rely on others to write or read their missives.

I value written notes and cards, and they are wonderful to reread. Yet the ability to talk quickly despite distances is wonderful–and it makes separations much easier to bear. (I’m still waiting for a Star Trek transporter device to be invented to make travel quicker.) I love getting a text from my husband or children knowing that they arrived safely somewhere. It reassures me. When my husband is away on a trip, I expect him to call me. When our daughters have important news or want to catch-up, we enjoy talking to each other.

Today, lovers who are separated can keep in touch through texts and social media, as well as by phone. They can have real-time face chats on their phones or computers. This type of rapid communication would have amazed people in the past—but if it existed earlier many of the passionate letters we read now would not exist. (What if Napoleon just sent Josephine texts? “Hey Jo, this Russia campaign is a bitch. Love ya.”) Do we perhaps take this ease of communication for granted sometimes? I don’t know. Does the ease of communication make love less profound? Does it make it easier to dismiss or erase?

I like to think that love is love, but a relationship does take work. As Ursula K. Le Guin said, ““Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”
(Notice how I worked food into this post. . .because I believe sharing good food is also essential to a lasting relationship.)

On this Valentine’s Day, call someone you love—spouse, child, parent, or friend—and tell them how much you value them. If it’s too late for Valentine’s, pick another time–perhaps Monday or Friday at five o’clock.