Saturday, May 14, 2011

“Laundry Slave”

            Chores don’t bother me. I can resist the urge to vacuum whenever I see a tuft of cat hair by looking the other way.  Our dog, Koi is shedding right now, leaving little balls here-and-there, but I don’t need to haul out the vacuum cleaner because I simply scoop them up as I move room to room. Dusting? I blow it off! Literally. I have a glass topped console in my visual range. In the bedroom, as I type on my laptop, it lurks in my peripheral vision. Some mornings, when the sun shines through the window behind me, the dust on the console becomes alive, catching my attention in the light as it drifts on whispers. My willpower allows me to ignore the coating until my “Dusting Day.” And if, for some mysterious and unknown reason, the layer forms faster one week, I’ll blow it off as I walk by.  My solution dealing with dirty dishes is simple—eat out. And the dreaded grocery shopping (which becomes torture lately with increasing prices)? My solution is to eat out more!

            But laundry—laundry enslaves me. If I avoid the overflowing basket, piles of clothing form in other places in the house, breeding daily into hideous mountains. My weeks revolve around conquering these Everests. Monday’s I round-up stray piles and herd them to the laundry room, maneuvering them into piles by color or temperature needs. I haul out the hamper, adding to the mounds until each item’s categorized. Dumping in detergent and a pile of clothing into the machine doesn’t demand much effort or skill. Shifting load after load from washer to dryer requires little, too. I don’t mind folding the towels into their neat piles, hanging shirts or dresses, or even battling with the fitted sheets. For some reason, though, I dislike putting away clothes. I hate fighting for space in the closets because once everything’s clean, there’s less room. I battle to find a spot for socks and often scrunch shorts into an overflowing drawer. And then, within two days, I must repeat the entire process again. Laundry never totally disappears.  I know, however, that my laundry challenge of today doesn’t compare to the work I did as a child.

When I was a little girl, my aunt had a wringer washer down in her basement. I remember standing on a stool to submerge the clothes into the water, dragging the heavy wet cloth out and over the scrub board. My small hands ached when I finished scrubbing, plunging, scrubbing, plunging. To this day, I remember the fear that knotted my stomach as I’d timidly feed the clothing into the ringer. I had nightmares that my fingers would slip in with the fabric, the rollers grabbing me and pressing my flattened body out into the tub.

We’d toss the wet clothing into wicker laundry baskets and half-drag them up the stairs to the clothesline in the back yard. In the winter, the wind and cold would freeze my fingers as I’d clip up towels, sheets or even undies. On freezing days, the cloth would stiffen on the line before I’d finish my basket. In the summer, the scent of sunshine would permeate the fabrics. I loved pulling the warm clothes down. As an adult, I’ve occasionally taken a load hot from the dryer, thrown it on the bed, and wrapped myself within the soft, warm blankets; but it’s not the same as bedding baked by a Texas summer sun.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Friday, May 13, 2011

"You're Not the Boss of Me!"

eyes flashing
heart pounding
little foot stamping firmly on the ground
a whirlwind
a furious tornado destroying her small world
fingers gripping and yanking
popping and catapulting the doll’s head
clutching the decapitated body to her chest
a ruined toy
bottom lip quivering
eyes brimming and overflowing
words sobbing
“You aren’t the boss of me!”
a bundle of frustration against boundaries
two-year-old temper tantrums
expected and accepted
at twenty-one
a ruined life
pouting lips twist with disdain
defiant words ring with desperation
a demand of attention and love
from a soul contemptuous of compassion
from a heart spoiled and rotting

 Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Hickory Farms: First Job"

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese! And more cheese!

I entered employment bliss for my first job—at Hickory Farms in North Star Mall, my favorite mall in San Antonio. The store, sandwiched in between a shoe store and boutique, became my second home for a couple of years while I saved every penny I could for college expenses. No job could have been better!

The owners required employees to pass taste tests on a regular basis. Imagine—part of my job meant I ate cheese all the time! At any moment, the manager could hand me a cube of Swiss or a sliver of cheddar, expecting differentiation between Jarlsberg or a baby Swiss. Could I discern the variations in texture and taste among three different American cheddars? Would I sample Stilton Blue Cheese and describe vividly its robust flavor to a customer?  

Sampling all of the various salamis and meats proved a treat, too. We’d combine meats with cheeses or one of the multitude of breads or crackers, attempting to discover the best combination of flavors. These we’d offer to customers when they wanted a small taste of heaven.

The store dedicated an entire wall to imported teas, feeding my need to try every nuance of the brews. My enthusiasm for the teas helped move the inventory that, prior to my employment, sat undisturbed.

Some first jobs leave a sour taste in the experiences of teens entering the work force. That never happened with me. If I inhale, the aromas and essences of the store linger in my memory, and I smile.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


If they hurt you by their thoughtlessness
            Don’t forgive
If they forget to say, “We care”
            Don’t excuse
If they break all of their promises
            Don’t condone
If they make you feel guilty
            Don’t endure
If they place the blame on you
            Don’t accept
If they make demands upon you
            Don’t embrace
If they break your heart
            Walk away

Copyright 1995 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Sometimes it's easy to give advice when you're watching someone else struggle through a relationship. However, having "Insight-" won't make your suggestions any easier to follow.

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Middle Child"

Middle child
between curly hair with doe brown eyes
and an only son
one five years ahead, the other five behind
imitating the elder while
lingering in childhood with the younger
envying her poised elegance and
longing for his sweet innocence

Middle child
between worldliness and naiveté
flanked by her play for independence
and his everlasting childhood
expecting more from myself
learning by her mistakes
benefiting when parents learn
it’s something kids just do

Middle child
between reserved solitude
and gentle attachment
becoming reliable and resilient
out of necessity and then habit
passing white glove inspections
knitting and purling the blanket of family
needing its comforting warmth

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Sunday, May 8, 2011

“Funhouse Mirrors”

Look into the eyes
vacant sockets
hollowed by decadence
and despair
distortions of reality
rippled and waved by experiences
your view, my view
righteous and indignant
warped by conspiracy

Look at the smile
deceitful daggers
grotesque with innuendo
and disbelief
twists of faith
buckled and bent by interpretations
your view, my view
dishonorable and  corrupt
perverted by unknowns

Look for the Truth
barren words
spoken through slanders 
and mystique
sleight of hand
molded and modified by consequences
your view, my view
devout and extreme
destroyed by secrecy

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

I never know where I'll find inspiration for a poem. My mother's rediscovered "The X-Files" and a recent cluster of episodes triggered the idea for this piece.