Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Weddings and Funerals"

Best friends      
sharing whispered secrets late into the night     
laughing at inside jokes     
crying at sentimental Hallmark card commercials     
Best friends     
writing voluminous letters across the years     
freezing moments with photographs     
offering comfort and strength     
Best friends     
visiting at weddings and funerals     
revealing superficial news     
concealing heartbreak and disappointments     
Best friends     
reconnecting despite differences     
creating new laughter      
rediscovering commonalities     

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Friday, December 16, 2011


Puzzle pieces piled upon the table   
Moments carefully measured and cut   
Respites sandwiched between what is and what won’t become   
Not wandering in my mind anymore into tomorrows   
I flail helpless against the inevitable   
I choke on my burning unshed tears   
I grieve the erosion of self   
I step away from plans   
Now my focus sharpens upon the fallen leaves under my feet   
Instead of next Spring’s buds   
How cruel, to lose the future   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, December 15, 2011

“For the Camera”

The old photos reveal nothing   
         show no hint of the abuses   
                     that darken your future   
         Gape-tooth smiles, youthful   
                     mugging for the camera   
                                 don’t predict   

         The childish arms that hugged   
                     friend and family   
                     hang skeletal   
                                 by your sides   
         While your sunken eyes   
                     and forced and frozen smiles   
                                                         for the camera    

         Pretending your world glows   
         Making believe he’ll finally   
                                             notice you   
                                             love you   
                                                         fit you into his small and selfish life   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

“Cows in the Road”

In route to Doolin, Ireland Sept. 2010
          When my father first met my mother, he told her he and his family owned “land in Texas.” Although my mother’s family no longer owned their farm in Illinois, others in her family still farmed their acreage. Visions of Giant must have briefly flashed through my mother’s mind until my father jokingly admitted that the “land” consisted of the two plots his parents and aunt owned in League City, Texas. My mother, interested more in Dad’s good looks than his possible oil rigs or herds of cattle, married him anyway.
          As a couple, my parents moved frequently. During the first few years, Dad’s training took him to twenty-four different places, and my mother followed him each time. In later years, they entertained us kids with tales of Texas Panhandle dust, Shreveport gumbo, and Florida lizards big enough to ride. By the time I came along, Dad had completed his training and began three or four year assignments in exotic places like New Jersey and Delaware. After a year in Vietnam, Dad decided to say goodbye to Air Force life and retired in San Antonio, Texas. He wished to be closer to his own aging mother and great aunt, who still resided on the family “estate” in League City, but he didn’t want to be too close.
          My siblings and I, transplanted so many times in our childhood, fixed deep roots in Texas. If you heard my sister speak, you’d never suspect she’d lived anywhere but here. Having spent from the age of two to five in New Jersey, I had a different accent for quite a while, and my blended twang belongs uniquely to me. My brother, somehow, escaped the Texas drawl. All three of us have never thought about leaving the state. As a matter of fact, my brother lives in my parents’ home while Mom’s living with us. My sister and her husband landed in Bay City after they graduated from college thirty-seven years ago, and David and I settled back in San Antonio as soon as I graduated from college.
          Now, I don’t go around claiming Texas is the grandest state in the nation. Nor do I deride others for living in different states. Most of the time, I muddle through each day without much claim to “Texas Pride.” When we travel to other states, I enjoy the beauty and unique features of each place, but I’ve always been glad to return home—until Ireland.
          David and I try to spend our vacations in new places, but we talk of returning to Ireland eventually. On our last trek up to our cabin in the Hill Country, the summer’s drought scorched everything in sight. The contrast to Ireland’s lush green made me wince. Clouds of dust enveloped our SUV as we snaked down our rocky road, and we stopped for some cows in the road.  Instantly, I transported to another street. This lane, slicked wet by an earlier rain, rolled among soft green hills. We paused in our journey on this faraway track because of cows in the road.
          I know the “What if we leave Texas?” temptation is only a game we play. We’ll cling to our soft hills, green only in the spring, and our winding rugged roads because our roots have fastened themselves so deeply below the rocky ground (probably in search of water).

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

“The Lingering Dream”

"Smoke Lady"   

traces of a dream    
nonsensical, inconsequential,   
mood tinting   
skewing my day   
blurring the boundary with reality   
chasing an elusive image   
whispers of memory   
a scent   
here and gone   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Dusk with Daybreak"

Dusk with daybreak—the shadowed haze   
sits cold upon my shoulders   
hiding Future in gray unknowns.   

Tethered to old illusions,   
I hunker low to the Mother   
longing to return to her   
as mist gentles me to slumber,   
numbs my fears, halts my labored   
breath with winter’s monotony.   

Knees pulled tight, a fetal ball   
of too many expectations,   
I flee in desperation   
back to her welcoming graces.   

My unsteady hand gathers   
kindle, possibilities fueled   
by spring’s retreat, fall’s demise.   

A flame feeds upon offerings   
of leaf and twig, stick and log   
until the blaze scorches my cheeks,   
warms my tremulous fingers,   
and banishes the icy gloom.    

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Sunday, December 11, 2011

“The Cone of Shame”

         Bridget and Koi chase each other through the house, whipping around corners, clawing against the carpet for traction, rolling in a tumble of black sleekness and white puff over the foot of the bed. This represents their last bout of energy for the evening before they’ll vie for the mound of pillows and blankets tossed into the floor of the master bedroom.
         I know Bridget divides time into three categories: Before Koi, Before Grammy, and Now. In her past life, she enjoyed the indulgences of “Only Dog” status. Although she still had the two cats around, they rarely deigned to acknowledge her presence. Occasionally Padme would swat and hiss at a playful Bridget, but most of the time they lived happily ignoring each other.
When Koi came along, Bridget allowed him to snip at her. Her poor ears looked tattered for a little while. I expressed concern to our vet over the little bites she endured, and he responded, “When she knows Koi is old enough, she won’t let him get away with this nipping.” And, sure enough, one day Koi’s teeth lodged into Bridget’s leg, and she snarled with full ferocity, sending him tumbling head over heels. His approach with her after that incident showed more respect and caution.
When my mother joined our household last year, Bridget’s life changed even more dramatically. Her daily walks to the park ended. Occasionally David or I may manage to take her onto the back trails, but most of the time she’s housebound. I realized this week just how these changes in our lives have stressed Bridget. Normally a pretty laid back and eager dog, she now parks herself by the front window and barks at anything or anyone that passes.
A couple of months ago, Briget clipped her leg on a rock outside. She licked at the injury with neurotic fanaticism until I wrapped the sore. Then her focus shifted onto beating the bandage. It didn’t matter what kind of covering I devised for her leg, she’d manage to get it off before the end of the day. Eventually, the wound hardened and started to mend. A week ago, she injured her other leg by gashing it against one of the rocks out back that line my gardens. This time, she ripped through the bandages in record time and licked the entire area into a hot spot. Not wanting a repeat of her last injury, I researched some home remedies for hot spots.
My research led to several reasons dogs lick and chew at areas of their skin:   allergies (which Bridget has), infections (which she doesn’t have), mites/fleas (none), and behavioral issues. It troubled me that perhaps Bridget needs a little TLC. I’ve placed her in a “cone of shame” to prevent her from licking at her legs. Of course, every time I scratch her ears for her or rub her tummy, I tell her she looks pretty. When I apply cloths soaked in black tea to her leg, I shower her with attention. I bought a soothing lotion specifically for hot spots and dote on her as she lets me massage the ointment into her skin. More importantly, I know I must find the time in my day to take her on her walks again. Today’s rain ruled that out, but tomorrow I’ll take her along the roads near the park if the trails are wet. Otherwise, I think I should be the one to don the cone of shame.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman