Still Searching

Monday Morning Musings:

“Whatever they turn out to be,
Let there be swarms of them,
Enough for immortality,
Always a star where we can warm ourselves.”
–Rebecca Elson, “Let There Always Be Light (Searching for Dark Matter)”

Foggy Morning at the River

Still Searching

After the wind roars
shedding fractious tears, the moon
hums a lullaby, settles
robins and us, while owl
arises without a sound, as

mothers hide their young,
aware of danger, always
nature gives and takes, balance
and circles, eternal
questions fly without answers, hope

Geese and Goslings

with feathers and claws
waiting to snag some morsel
of truth. Perceiving the stars,
the ghostly past echoes
so we can find light in darkness.

Just past sunrise, Delaware River at West Deptford

Early Morning Light at Red Bank Battlefield in Late May

Now there is friendship
of decades, of children grown,
of new love, births, joy, sorrow.
Understanding conveyed
with a glance, life stories re-told.

Now the air is washed
the breeze whistles in major
chords, no lonesome blues, only
azure of spring dreams, no
matter that we’re living autumn.

Flora and Fauna, Fog and Sunshine

Bats at dusk

We watch the bats soar
into violet night, flit-
flitter, zipping like a thought,
synaptic connections,
we, a piece of a larger whole. . .

and still searching.

This is a wayra sequence, except for the final two words.
I woke up not feeling well this morning, but I’m fine now. It’s been a strange week. The weather again has been crazy—fog, sunshine, thunderstorms, tornado warnings, and now after summer heat and storms, we’re back to a beautiful spring day. The world continues to move towards authoritarianism. The Republican party here is openly embracing it and actively working to end our democratic system. They’re not even trying to hide it anymore. And their supporters cheer them on. Will they still cheer, I wonder, when they’re still poor and there are no government services to help them, no rules regulating business, health, transportation. . .?

We went to a surprise birthday party, and I’m going to hope no one had COVID, as the numbers are rising again.

We started watching Night Sky, a new series on Amazon Prime. All I needed to hear was Sissy Spacek and J.K. Simmons, and they are excellent, of course. They play a long-time married couple with a secret—buried deep under their old shed is a portal to another world. We’ve watched 3 ½ episodes so far, and I’m intrigued to see what will happen.

Outside and Inside

Monday Morning Musings:

“but wait, Uncle Vanya, wait! We shall rest. We shall rest. We shall rest.”
–Anton Chekov, Uncle Vanya

Early Morning Delaware River at West Deptford, NJ
Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield, Early Spring

Outside, it’s wind-swept,
then calm, heron-grey till blue
returns, and sunshine wakes the
laughing daffodils to
play. Outside all is contrary—

we know the ending, but how
will the middle go? Bombs
drop, ice-shelves crash, pandemic
freefall– isolated
branches forget their roots, yet grow.

Inside, we drive with
Uncle Vanya—hear her voice,
then his, rehearsals for life
through Hiroshima streets,
the play’s the thing– but connections

through time and people
signing with love, humor, and
song. It is language, all the
languages—words, faces,
hands. The beauty of them all—
the text, feelings, love, and sadness

buds and blooms again.
Outside birds soar and find mates,
we hear dawn choirs begin
amidst the carnage and
despair, yellow waves across blue


Early morning reflections, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

again and again.
Inside and outside remind
us that life goes on—a dance
through time, variations
on a theme, singing with rhythm–

Vulture Aerial Ballet

signs of creation.
We are the product of stars
replicating their wonder
and extinguishing light
with big bangs—love, joy, sorrow, death

–and then we rest.

I watched this goose running and chasing after other geese. Crazy with love perhaps.

This is a wayra chain–5-7-7-6-8 syllables per stanza. March continues its craziness. The warm weather brought lots of blooming, but now it’s cold again. My husband saw snow flurries yesterday, and we might get more today. Later in the week it’s supposed to get unseasonably warm with thunderstorms. . .and still there’s war in Ukraine, Covid, and a huge ice shelf broke off in the Antarctic. Still, the birds sing and flowers grow.

Merril’s Movie Club:
We caught up with some of the movies up for Academy Awards last night. I didn’t watch the awards ceremony. We’ve seen 7 of the 10 that were nominated for best picture, plus 3 of the International Feature Films, including the winner, Drive My Car. (We may watch The Worst Person in the World next weekend.) And we’ve also seen The Lost Daughter, Parallel Mothers, and Flee–all excellent.
This week we watched:
Drive My Car, Coda, and West Side Story.

Drive My Car was my favorite. I was hooked from the beginning, and I just keep thinking about it. Like Coda, it also features signing—Korean Sign Language—as one of the actors in a multi-language production of Uncle Vanya communicates through it. The movie has so many levels—and languages. It’s about connections and language, love, and loss. Much of it takes place as an actor-director drives or is driven in his beloved red Saab listening to his wife’s voice reading Uncle Vanya with pauses for him to say his lines. The movie is three hours, which along with subtitles, will probably keep many people from seeing it. As for me, I want to see it again. Trailer here

Coda was very good—loud out loud funny in parts, sweet, sad, and poignant, even if it was a bit predictable. It’s a definite crowd-pleaser. Troy Kotsur, who plays the deaf father of a young woman who can hear and wants to follow her dream to sing, won a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor award. Coda won Best Picture. Trailer here

West Side Story—was very enjoyable, and I liked it a lot. My sister and I used to listen to the album (an actual record on a turntable), and throughout the years I’ve seen the movie many times, as well as stage productions (including the worst ever production when I was in college), so I know all the songs. I don’t know that all the changes were necessary, but I suppose if you’re going to remake a classic, then you should make it your own, as Spielberg has done. Tony Kushner updated the book, and the cinematography and the literal dancing in the streets brought a better sense of New York City and the changes it was undergoing in the 1950s. I liked that there was a native Spanish-speaking cast for the Puerto Ricans, and that they spoke without subtitles. And of course, there was no horrible make-up, as in the original. Ariana DeBose, who played Anita, was a standout for me, and she won the Best Supporting Actress Award. Rita Moreno won the same award as Anita in the original 1961 film.

Without a Prod, the Light Still Sings

Franz Marc, The Fate of the Animals

Monday Morning Musings:

And all being is flaming agony.”
–Franz Marc, killed in battle in WWI, this inscription on the canvas of his painting The Fate of the Animals

Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be as urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.
Mary Oliver, “The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac,” from Blue Horses

“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune

Caught between never
and never again, we watch
skies flame past sunset, colors
echoed in streaming blood—
as robin’s breast and blackbird’s wing

sing the red of spring.
Is it logic that we seek
in tumbling waves and earth’s spin?
The continuity
of sprouting green wakened seeds

though no blue horses
prance in meadow grass—never
separated from their young
by ricocheting shells,
they live on in painted visions

after the artist
is gone–a truth, as beauty
we see around us greening,
singing, winging light, echoes
of stars, their ancient dust within

A peaceful early morning.

our cells. We ingest
fallen traces of before,
tidbits of eternal time–
passages or gateways?
As gulls catch light with fish, swooping

from river surface
to rise in feathery clouds,
we glimpse blue obscured by grey,
till blue appears again.
Shadows walk hand-in-hand with light.

War and the seasons—things we can count on to appear
over and over again.

Daffodils almost ready to bloom

March is as capricious as ever. Winds blow in cold air, then warm. Today is unseasonably warm. It’s already 70 F, but we have a wind advisory, possible thunderstorms later, and then back to colder temperatures. We had hoped to do something outside yesterday, but though it was warm, it was damp and dreary, then windy.

We watched the movie After Yang (Showtime). It’s sci-fi only in that it concerns an android and is set sometime in the future, but it’s really a family drama. It is about what makes a family and what does it mean to be human, as well as exploring love and parenting. To complete our sci-fi Saturday and Sunday, we watched the new version of Dune (Amazon Prime rental, also on HBO max). I read the books a million years ago and saw the earlier movie. Of course, this was meant to be seen on a big screen, but it was well-done. The movie touches on the layers and allusions, and wars it seems still go on, even in the future.

Frost-Flowers and Spring

Monday Morning Musings:

Frost Reflections

Crystalline, they catch
and scatter light, frost-flowers
on reflected branches, the real
and perceived now conjoined
in stark evanescent beauty

as over-wintered sun
returns, we rejoice to walk
in not-yet-warm, but warmer
light. A tangerine sky,
fades, lemonade gleams from blue sky.

Tall Pines State Preserve

Tall Pines State Preserve

enough to banish
February gloom—too soon–
the white fox clouds and moonless sky,
and so, winter resumes
her sharp blanket laid on the ground—

Still February–Another snowfall

but still, the birdcalls
begin, no morning choir
summoning the sun, yet bits
of song, the wrens duet
amid jay squawks and crow chatter

high on budding trees,
green tendrils emerge to test
and taste the air, not yet, but
soon, I hear them whisper,
the doves not mourning, woo–love comes

through an unlocked gate.

Garden Gate, or Magic Portal?

We had some warm almost-spring days this past week. On Saturday, we took a walk in Tall Pines State Preserve without having to bundle up in winter coats. Then yesterday it snowed, and today it was only 18 F when I woke up. So much for spring. But the days are getting longer, and trees are starting to bud, and the spring bulbs are starting to shoot up their first leaves, at least in the parts of the ground that get a lot of light.

February is birthday month here, both my now grown children had birthdays last week; my mother-in-law and my husband’s birthday are this week. I may have and will do some baking. Today is also Valentine’s Day. When our kids were young, we used to have Valentine-Birthday parties, where they made Valentine cards and crafts.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Definition Please (Netflix), an enjoyable movie about a former spelling bee champion and her relationship with her brother and family. It deals with some mental health issues. Not a wow movie, but good, with a strong, touching performance by Sunjata Day, who also wrote, directed, and produced the movie. We also watched Flee (rental from Amazon Prime, also on Hulu, and in theaters). I’m not normally a fan of animated films, but this was excellent. It’s mostly animated, but with some film clips, too—it’s a documentary, a memoir of a man who fled Afghanistan as a young teen, and who is pursuing a career in Denmark. He gradually reveals some painful secrets about his life to the friend who his interviewing him. Highly recommend this one; I really would like to watch it again.

We also started watching Inventing Anna (Netflix), which I’m enjoying so far. I’ve liked Julia Garner in everything I’ve seen her in, though she looks and sounds different here. This Shonda Rhymes show is based on the true story of Anna Delvy, aka Anna Sorokin.

I just remembered this photo of Ricky as a Valentine Kitten.

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

Slumbering Sun Rises Again


“The wild swan’s death-hymn took the soul
Of that waste place with joy
Hidden in sorrow”
–Alfred Tennyson, “The Dying Swan” (1830)

The sun in slumber,
a bird, head tucked beneath wings,
waiting for the storm to pass
trees lashed by sharp-tongued wind
who screams with frozen breath, “I’m here.”

Now marmalade sky–
Seemingly gone, light returns
again and again, dazzling
us with beauty and hope
a better tomorrow comes.


Do we wait for if?
Do we sail the ship of fools,
or look for wiser pilots?
Each dawn a new page turned,
some dog-eared, marked for remembrance

in sorrow or joy,
we’re prisoners of finite
who hold the infinite, too—
memories of the past
and dreams of the future

we inhale stardust
as star-bird melodies call
the reminder of always
we are connected too–
sky, sea, earth, forever embraced.

Not much to say this week. It snowed, and it’s cold. Joy and sorrow.People are still spewing crazy theories and trying to destroy our democracy and the world, but the sun comes up. There’s poetry. There’s so much that I love.

If you’re a poet, and on Twitter, I’m hosting @TopTweetTuesday tomorrow for Black Bough Poetry. Post a short, imagist poem, if you’d like. See @TopTweetTuesday for more details.

Merril’s Movie Club:
We watched two movies this week. We both really liked Swan Song (2021). I don’t know if you can view it without Apple TV+, but if you can, I highly recommend it (unless you only like action movies). 😊 Starring Marhershala Ali (he was in Moonlight) as a man who is terminally ill, and who must make a decision about whether to replace himself with a clone or not. It is beautifully done.
We also watched Last Night in Soho (Amazon Prime rental). I also really enjoyed it—though I didn’t expect it to turn as dark as it did. It’s very clever and beautifully and creatively filmed. It’s been described as “trippy.” The story involves a young woman who goes to London to follow her dream to be a fashion designer. She’s obsessed by the 1960s, and (sort of) time-travels back there. Lots of ‘60s music and references. I think this may have been the last movie Diana Rigg was in.

We’re also watching The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window on Netflix. It’s a spoof of that genre, but there’s also a mystery. It’s a fun show with short, bingeable episodes and Kristen Bell. Sometimes that’s all you want, right?

Random Food and Cat Photos

A Universe of Ghosts and Words

Monday Morning Musings:

“The world was filling with ghosts. We were a haunted country in a haunted world.”
–Louise Erdrich, The Sentence

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
–William Shakespeare, from Macbeth (spoken by Macbeth after Lady Macbeth’s death)

Ducks swim through sunrise clouds.

Apparitions slip
between worlds, linger like words–
the spoken and unsaid–each
waiting to be seen, heard,
read and remembered, infinite

combinations, in
every language, past, future
meld in the timeless sea where
yesterday’s twinkling light
haunts and comforts. Does tomorrow

on the horizon
give a straight-lined smile? Or false
the glimmer of hope? Sound and
fury—nothing or all?
Candles burn bright, yet mimic stars.

The light comes again
reverberations, colored
by space-time meandering
carrying messages
in microscopic dust missives.

Early Morning Reflections
Evening Snowfall

Now, winter’s blanket
lays etched with sharp lettering–
yet beneath, cursive tendrils
wait to write new stories
spirits and words hover, beckon

with endless stories,
whole books, unfinished chapters
brief verses, epic sagas,
chronicles and reports.
The universe shouts and whispers.


I decided to try a wayra again. It forces me to think and choose words in a different way.

We’re bouncing from very cold to warm for January to cold. We had snow last night, but it’s been washed away by the rain, and there’s a wind advisory for later in the day into tomorrow.

It’s soup and blanket weather. I made clam chowder (without bacon) last night, and vegetarian onion soup earlier in the week, served with oven french fries.

Merril’s Movie, Books, TV. . .

I couldn’t quite stay up to finish Louise Erdrich’s new novel, The Sentence, last night, but it’s wonderful—words and books, tribal lore, ghosts, and social commentary.

We watched A Perfect Ending (Amazon Prime), a psychological thriller with Polish actor Tomasz Kot as an architect delayed by a young woman in an airport. It definitely kept me interested till the end. And since I forgot to cancel Apple TV, we also watched The Tragedy of Macbeth, a new adaptation by Joel Coen. Purists may not like the streamlined version, but it’s excellent, filmed in a stark black and white where shadows loom and the Weird Women become birds. The supernatural elements of the play really come through in this version. Denzel Washington plays Macbeth and Frances McDormand is Lady Macbeth. She’s so good.

The book and movies share connections of ghosts, regrets, deaths/murders, and memory.

We’ll be watching the finale of Yellow Jackets tonight, a show that I’ve really enjoyed. (I wasn’t sure I would from the opening scenes.) And I suppose there’s a connection here, too.

Colors of Time

Monday Morning Musings:

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment.

A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors.”
–Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Another Tree Spirit

Follow the shadows
through dreams colored with deep-time
longing. The seeds nested, specks
of hope, driven by time—
unleashed cycles, harmonic notes

star-born melodies
heard without, but held within
blood, skin, and organs—dust of
ancient incandescence
infinite shades of light from yesterday

merge with tomorrow
harmony and dissonance,
my parents speak in dream-time
enrooted in my mind
and heart, we are united

as midnight blue shifts
to violet, then golden
blaze, an ageless song of light
captured, remembered as
it passes, every color

in time, of time, time-
charged, time-changed by shifts of chance,
a crash, a brief encounter,
a prism of color
light reborn, transformed, transcendent.

The rising sun captured in a bottle.

I didn’t go anywhere this week or do anything special, but the changing temperatures and weather have made for some incredible skies. Influenced by Jane Dougherty, I decided to try a wayra chain today for my musings.

Merril’s Movie/TV/Book Club:

We saw The Hand of God (Netflix), Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s autobiographical coming-of-age movie. The movie is set in Naples and full of quirky characters, as well as some surreal images, combining warmth, fate, tragedy—and soccer—in a poignant cinematic memoir.

We watched Anxious People (Netflix), a Swedish series written by Fredrik Bachman based on his novel. (He also wrote A Man Called Ove.) This limited series of 6 short, bingeable episodes (we watched it in two nights) is quirky, but heartwarming. My husband and I both enjoyed how the story was revealed over time. You would see something like a man’s bandaged nose, but not find out how it happened until another episode. The story concerns a failed bank robbery/hostage situation with a father-son pair of police officers who are not used to dealing with such crimes. It’s more Nordic charm than Nordic noir.

I read Lauren Groff’s Matrix, a novel based on the twelfth-century Marie de France. Little is known about her, so Groff is free to invent her life, which she does, in this beautifully written book.