Saturday, September 3, 2011

“Reunion”


            My thirty-fifth high school reunion starts tonight, but I won’t attend. I can’t make plans for future events anymore because I don’t know what the future holds. Making a decision last summer on whether everything would line up “just right” proved impossible, so I declined the invitation for the two days of celebration. I find that my comfort zone in planning ahead shrinks down to scheduling an outing a week in advance—and then I make certain that others involved in the plans know I may cancel at the last moment.
Felice Casorati,
"Dreaming of Pomegranates," 1913.
            I never predicted that life would lead me to this moment. I thought my retirement days would evolve in whatever manner I selected—morning gym runs, afternoon writing sprees, evening park walks. I’d read voraciously. I’d start new craft projects. I’d design and construct my gardens out front. I’d stretch out on a blanket and dream of pomegranates.
            In recent months, the unexpected life twists of many of my friends, those graduates from the class of ’76, make me realize life’s difficulties never cease. Mistakenly, I thought all of those early years of struggle would lead to later years of contentment and security. Instead, my generation feels battered and rejected. Three friends have lost their thirty year careers. Each day, they search for another job, compete with this generation’s youth, fight to regain footing unexpectedly kicked out from them. I don’t know how to comfort these people. “Hang in there,” or “I’m thinking of you,” or “Things will work out,” seem pitiful platitudes in the face of their dilemma.
Another group of my peers watch their own children battle against the economy. They welcome their children back into their homes because these young adults often cannot afford expensive rents, high car payments, and repayment of school loans on the stagnant pay they receive. One friend called the other night, thrilled that her daughter landed a job doing something that didn’t require her expensive college degree, but at least it offered full time work with a salary and benefits.
Then my graduating class members face the ailing health of our parents. I am not alone in my role as caregiver. As I’ve reconnected with friends from my past, I find comfort in the support they give me. Some have already walked down this path while others begin their journey along with me. Their encouraging words, quick wit, and genuine understanding prop me up on my toughest days. Unfortunately, I’ve also witnessed several classmates fight personal health issues. The tremendous courage and grace under pressure I’ve seen makes me thankful that these friends touch my life.
I remember the graduates from my class as intelligent, generous and talented people. Some of us still hold onto the idealism that we can make a difference in the world—maybe not on a huge scale, but by how we handle life’s challenges! I may miss the festivities this weekend, but the real reunion happens every time a friend from the past contacts me.  

 Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman            


Friday, September 2, 2011

“Frustration”

A gray mist engulfs me   
            Substance without form   
                        Not there—but there   
I inhale bitterness   
and its parasitic nature   
            Infiltrates me   
                        My lungs pull it inward   
                        as I gasp for breath   
                        trying to exhale its pungent mold   
                        trying to breathe as it weighs me down     
                                                presses against me       
                                                            from inside   
                                    Invading my body   
                                    freezing my logic   
                                                pulling me into panic   
            because I can change nothing   
                        It        
            has no form—   
                        nothing to hold onto   
                                    or push away   
A gray mist   

Copyright 1995 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, September 1, 2011

“ An Old Friend”

She’s an old friend,   
just a co-worker now—an acquaintance   
We smile when we pass in the hall   
We share complaints about classes, victories with kids   
Lately, she’s lost her smile   
Her usual elegance fades    
Her eyes, downcast as she walks, miss my smiled greetings   
Someone whispers a rumor   
asks what I know—me, the ostrich with her head in the sand   
I look around   
Suddenly I see her loss   
realize her shock and grief   
Stunned, I see them together—       
as she must see them, too       
He sniffs around the other woman like she’s a bitch in heat       
They drive up in the same car       
step out for lunch       
stand together in the hallway       
flirtatiously laughing       
body language that screams—Couple       
What words can I offer?       
advice, as they say, is cheap   
How do I let her know I care   
without letting her painfully realize—   
I know   
(just like everyone else)   
I can talk to her, try to listen, try to be around just a little more   
Her other friends and I can form a safety net   
but we can’t protect her from anger, loss, grief   
We see it in her eyes  
in the way she moves now   
I remember another time when she had no net   
her loss almost killed her    
So, I’ll stand guard

Copyright 1999 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

“Playing Games”

Love to play my games, it seems that’s all I do.       
Turning up at set times, just to rendezvous.       
Rolling new characters to achieve more goals    
forces me to don imaginary souls.   
A rogue, a wizard, a tough tank or a troll—   
the role doesn’t matter—I am always bold.       
Playing for more coin, whether silver or gold,       
becomes challenging; the grinding’s never old.   
Love all the carrots dangled before my nose:   
requiring new levels, armor, or the clothes.   
Running through an instance, hanging with my crowd,     
ganging up on villains always is allowed.   
Love to play my games, it seems that’s all I do.   
Glad that my virtual world led me to you!

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

“Mother’s Clone”


cradled gently in her arms   
Mother bends her head close to Child   
her finger feathers the pure smooth cheek     
her hair becomes a sheltering shield   
protecting them from prying eyes   
in syncopation Mother and Child breathe   
one without the womb   


Mother’s eyes mist as Child’s hair darkens   
her mouth becomes a rigid line     
when bluish eyes turn brown   
her voice takes on ice     
when others note differences   
in syncopation Mother and Child breathe   
one without the womb   


Mother’s heart hardens   
her Child wields her wayward will   
with terrible temper tantrums   
fists and teeth and legs fighting   
struggling against Mother’s programming   
in syncopation Mother and Child breathe   
one without the womb   


desperation drives Mother’s dissatisfaction   
she tethers Child with demands   
her fears feed phobias and fictional afflictions   
her disappointment distorts her love   
her rejection rips through Child   
in syncopation Mother and Child breathe   
one without the womb
 
Mother and Child stab and wound   
pushing and pulling in tangled bindings   
never severing the umbilical cord   
they dance in macabre madness   
enmeshed and ensnared within their love-hate trap   
in syncopation Mother and Child breathe   
one without the womb
 
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, August 29, 2011

“Frying Eggs”

The air carries ripples   
a Saran Wrap view   
of my world   
pulling tight off the rooftops   
My Keds melt and ooze   
as I tiptoe across the blacktop   
jumping over bubbles that pop in the road   
My hair plasters against my head   
a blonde Pixie helmet   
I envy the crew cuts sported by the boys   
We stand in a semicircle   
smudging sweat from smarting eyes   
watching in wonder   
Dad cracks the egg   
one-handed like a master chef   
he doesn’t break the yoke   
the edges turn white against the tar   
I lean closer   
 hand resting on Dad’s shoulder   
for a better view   
“See,” I challenged my ring of doubters   
“It is hot enough to fry an egg!”   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Sunday, August 28, 2011

“Saturday in the Swing”


Saturday in the swing
            serenaded with cicada song
                        and the chuck-chuck-chuck
                                    of chiding squirrels
                                                I float
                                    aimless—and appreciative
                                                of quiet moments spent swaying
My dog calls greeting to our neighbor
            rolling her Rs like that old Ruffles commercial
                        she’s a sentry
                                    sniffing out lizards
A breeze plays with my writing paper
            dances the words among the shadows
                        cast from sun and leaves
                                    making me dizzy in the Texas heat
A paw taps my knee
            accompanied by a whine
                        I’m abandoned
                                    for central air
Moisture collects
            on the back of my neck
                        on upper lip
                                    around my hairline
                                                behind my knees
I inhale humidity
            yet I linger
                        savoring my Saturday in the swing

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman