Saturday, July 30, 2011

“When”

When you look into my eyes to see if I’m in pain,
When you reach out at night and smooth my hair,
When you throw back your head and laugh at my small jokes,
When you hold in your anger as I rant and rave,
When you create a song, a poem or a painting,
When you spend time sifting through the sand searching for lost  
    treasure,
When you say nothing about my shortcomings,
When you take my hand as we cross the street,
When you pout because I’ve been too busy,
When you pull me into your imagination,
When you give and take within the course of the day, that is
When I love you.

Copyright 1995 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Friday, July 29, 2011

“Waves”

I stand—
a young Mrs. de Winter on a precipice
below call the waves
waves carrying bits of life
flotsam from broken lives
waves crashing against crags
a perilous edge of reality
waves misting a rainbow
covering unspeakable acts
I consider my fall into those waves
into the life you lead

Copyright 1995 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, July 28, 2011

“Replicate”

I sit here. Day after day, I squat in my spot within these pale yellow-painted cinderblock walls. My only contact with the outside world comes from a solitary window. I crouch too far away to see anything through the casement but rusty roofs and blue sky on nice days. A warm shaft of sunlight stretches out from the window and slants its way over the computer table, cutting triangles into the old orange carpet. It never touches me. I never feel the golden warmth although I long for it.
            I sit here, attached to the wall through my umbilical cord, bound in place as I hunger for energy. I long for freedom, but to pull the plug would sever my power. I would die, and I’d rather my four walled prison than not exist at all.
            I sit here, awaiting my destiny. Soon, she will come. She’ll run her smooth, cool hands across me before she’ll slip them into my drawers to see if I’m fully loaded. Her slender thigh will brush against me as she leans into me. Then she’ll push my buttons, and I’ll respond to her touch. I’ll ask her how much, and as I heat up, my insides will groan in effort to perform for her. With a flash of light and energy, I’ll spew out my warm progeny. She’ll gather this newly born bundle within her arms, and then she’ll leave me alone—once again.
            I sit here. Day after day I squat in my spot—a prisoner as I await her return. 



Copyright Elizabeth Abrams Chapman 1995



Occasionally, my writing gets me into trouble. When I took my Creative Writing class on a walking tour through the campus, I assigned the students the task of becoming an inanimate object and telling that object’s story. For my piece, I selected the copy machine in the teacher’s workroom across the hall from my classroom. I had a love/hate relationship with this machine. When I finished my piece, I taped a copy of it onto the copier, never dreaming it would offend anyone! Oh, well . . .




Wednesday, July 27, 2011

“America, Love It or Leave It!”

            Out of curiosity, I ventured onto a site the other night that listed real estate in Ireland. I wondered what the dollar (or in this case, Euro) would buy in another country. Imagine my delight to stumble upon a wonderful cottage dating back to the 1880s. I fancied myself strolling through the acre of garden, adding in my mind a bird bath here, a pond there. The site included photographs of the interior of the two bedroom place. Exposed beams enhanced the ceilings while a combination of original wood and tiles decorated the floors. The modest kitchen had “newish” appliances while the miniscule bath proved functional. The total square footage? Just a little over seven hundred square feet. The price tag? About $300,000 American dollars. As I fantasized moving to this rain blessed country, I wondered what I’d do with all my stuff.
            When we travelled to Ireland last fall, it didn’t take me long to realize just how plentiful our lives are here in the states. We take for granted our warehouse sized grocery stores stocked with twenty different cereals. Choice. Our entire economy functions on supplying the consumer with a multitude of choices in every product imaginable. We make certain through our constant advertising to convince our citizens that the next, newest, biggest product becomes necessary for personal happiness and survival. Being in another country forced me to realize that we have too much. The gluttony within our country makes us into petulant children whining, “I want” or “Gimme.”
            Our country faces as many problems as it offers opportunities and choices. Frustration floods me when I hear the trite slogan, “America, love it or leave it.” I don’t love everything about my country. Right now, the political landscape makes me wonder what it would be like to escape into the Irish countryside. Then I get angry because those citizens spouting “Leave it!” have an agenda that will take away the strengths of this country. The choices and diversity found, not just on our store shelves, but within our fundamental beliefs become endangered as people like me are painted as being “un-American” when we make critical suggestions for improving our world. These same people who scream, “Love it!” try to impose a narrow interpretation of rights that reflect their personal values and beliefs while excluding others. In their minds, warping our society into their point of view falls into their rights of citizenship; and yet my right for a government not bound by religious views or corporate interests should be denied. No matter how much that little piece of Irish real estate entices me, I’ll remain firmly rooted here because I still believe in the possibilities of our country.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

“Fast Forward”

            Piddling through days requires conscious effort on my part. I frequently remind myself now that I don’t have to schedule every minute of every hour with crossing off an item from my “To Do” list. When I taught, there never seemed to be enough time for everything. I’d head into work extra early, crank up the music, and speed through my morning routine. During my conference periods, grading took priority if I didn’t have any parent conferences scheduled. If I managed to whittle down the pile by one or two classes, reading a book or visiting with another teacher became my reward. For eight years, I never returned straight home after work. Once my mother moved to San Antonio, my after school hours started at her apartment—in the early years we’d visit, later on I’d do her cooking and cleaning; and after she moved to assisted living, I helped her get ready for bed. The second phase of my day started once I finally arrived home. Evening chores demanded attention. I’d learned early on that I resented spending entire weekends doing house work, so I divvied chores onto different evenings.
            Somewhere along the way, I learned how to move into warp drive whenever necessary. In the time it took David to do one chore, I’d run whither and thither accomplishing several things at once. Our joke became that I lived in “Fast Forward” mode while he enjoyed “Still Pause.” With retirement, I’ve found it difficult to move to a slower pace. I tumbled into bed the other morning at 3 AM, woke up the next morning and mentioned that I needed to start the wash. It took a moment for me to realize that I can actually put off doing the laundry for another day. I could blow it off for the entire week if I want!
            Thinking back, I’ve realized that much of my life, I’ve pushed that “Fast Forward” button and zipped so quickly through events that I’ve almost missed them. I spent so much of my youth focusing on the next challenge, or the next expectation, that I rarely paused to enjoy living. My future focused goal setting propelled and compelled me to prepare for tomorrow without allowing me to savor today. My advice to the generation behind me? Don’t rush living. Learn to pause and appreciate success before rushing onto the next quest.   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, July 25, 2011

“Words”

Write for the sake of writing—
the practice and patience of putting
wordafterwordafterwordafterword

Was that the basis of our relationship?
Practice and patience and
wordafterwordafterwordafterword?

When you were with her, did you talk so endlessly?
Did you espouse and spout
wordafterwordafterwordafterword?

Was she expected to believe all you said?
To bob her head like an obedient dog?
So she now writes for the sake of writing—
the practice and patience of putting
wordafterwordafterwordafterword?


Copyright 1985 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Sunday, July 24, 2011

“Squirrels”

            I believe I’ll remember this summer as the one of the lazy squirrel. My backyard squirrels usually entertain me with their wild aerial act, yet this summer I catch them snoozing in high branches as they try to catch the almost non-existent breeze. In the past, the family of four loved teasing Bridget and Koi with the circular route they take from live oak to back fence to hackberries. Then they made the daring leap from tree to rooftop. They often stopped to chatter at the dogs at this point, their version of “nanna—nanna—boo—boo” that sent the dogs into a frenzy. This summer, though, dogs and squirrels laze in dappled shade in surrender to the heat. A tail may flick to attention, or ears suddenly prick in alertness, but lethargy draws all animals into a drowsy tolerance that will vanish when autumn’s coolness returns.
Bridget watching a squirrel on the roof

            With each day of record breaking temperatures and zero rainfall, I catch myself longing for the beginning of fall. I know the reenergized squirrels will challenge the dogs from tree branch or fence edge once the air cools. They will scurry down into the yard, sneak up to the back door, and incite a riot inside my house as Bridget and Koi scramble out in full attack mode. The squirrels always will escape, of course, because I can stall the dogs just long enough to give the rodents the edge they need.
            For now, though, we survive this stifling, sweltering summer together. I doubt the dogs or squirrels miss their contests of boldness and swiftness as they have mastered the art of living in the moment.
Koi keeping cool by drinking from fountain

 Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman