Saturday, November 17, 2012

"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

Friday, November 16, 2012


Time pauses   
            when I dream of you   
                                    pulling me back through years   
            until I hear   
                        your booming laughter ricochet     
            You appear before me   
            I embrace your solidity   
                        catch a whiff of Old Spice,   
                                    pipe tobacco   
            My tiny hand clutches yours   
            I am your child   
                                    looking up into your deep brown eyes   
            You swing me up   
                        high onto your shoulders   
            I pat your chin—rough, unshaven   
                                    We stand in my front yard   
                                                hugging goodbyes   
                                                promising another visit   
            Plans cancelled by death   

Time pauses   
            when I dream of you   
                                    pulling me back through years   
            until I stand   
                        alone in the night   
            Suffering under the weight of grief   
            Conjuring you with my heartbreak   
                        your voice rises with enthusiasm   
                                    strengthens with determination     
            We argue politics   
            We agree to disagree   
                                    looking into your deep brown eyes    
            You vanish   
                        leaving me sorrowful   
            Regretting silly squabbles   
                                    I stand alone   
                                                searching for you     
                                                listening for your essence   
            Knowing you are gone forever   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Worse Case Scenario"

weakness tangles within rigidity   
and involuntary movement demands thought and discipline   
requiring repetition and obsession to manage endless days   
even as neurons decay 

no hope    
only loss crossed off the calendar day-by-day
the fight for dignity fatigues    
an unbearable weight constricting life   
she is Prometheus, bound   
punished for bringing enlightenment    
tortured in mind and body until eternity   

speech struggles against silence   
and suddenly words flee   
what is this?   
confusion adds to the overload   

helplessly caught in disintegration   
too much misplaced   
not enough forgotten   
gone too soon   
or not soon enough   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Tiny Houses"

Our "Tiny House" in Leakey, Texas

            Recently, a friend brought little, itty-bitty houses to my attention through various postings on Facebook. These tiny houses, and their inhabitants, fascinate me. The first video I watched chronicled a family of three who downsized into hundreds of square feet. Since then, I’ve viewed several other videos on individuals and families making the decision to “Simplify, simplify.” I envy these people who’ve somehow pulled away from their attachments to belongings. I don’t hoard, but I do have collections. Every item carries a specific memory, and although logic tells me that the memory won’t fade if I donate the item, my heart feels otherwise. So when I see others scale down their possessions to simple necessities, I feel awe. I don’t like to think that I define myself by what I own, but I can’t imagine not having my books, teapots, or Christmas ornaments.
Inside our--dining/living/bed areas!

Some people would find these little houses confining, but I understand the womblike comfort of a small space. My enchantment with little rooms goes back to my childhood. No matter where we lived, I always selected the smallest room as my own. I’d pack it with a twin bed, bookcases and desk. I’d put shelves on the walls to take advantage of the vertical areas many people overlook. By candlelight, these rooms felt cozy and calming.

Bath, kitchen, & dining areas!
Every time we go to our cabin in Leakey, I light candles and draw the shades to make the one room cabin welcoming and warm. I daydream about living up there permanently. The one room contains every necessity—kitchen, dining, living, sleeping areas. What else, really, do we need? And if I want space, all I have to do is step outside.
Candlelight and comfort
Logic kicks in eventually, and I realize I’m not ready to walk away from everything forever. Living sparsely for a cluster of days at a time tempts me. I’m charmed by the plainness of our days when I know I can return home. Could I make the change to the degree of these other people? Could I live a home that’s several hundred square feet forever? Is a tiny house in our future?

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Old Graveyards"


            Tombstones lean into each other, as though in death family members still long to whisper secrets. Each marker represents a life, and I wonder. Did this woman cherish her children? Did she weep at her infant’s death or bare her grief in stoic rigidity? This man, who lived to be almost eighty, did he throw back his head in laughter over a pint? Did he labor in the fields or at a factory? Did his days tally anger or joy? Did he pull the blanket of death tightly around him in those last moments, or did he fight for each moment of life?

            I stand before this couple, together for eternity. Was their marriage happy? Did they linger close to one another in the mornings, cocooning for warmth before each sunrise? Did he smooth stray tendrils of her hair away from her face and sneak a morning kiss? Did she pull him down in playful lust? Did they sing sweet greetings as they reluctantly left their warm bed to build up the fires, tend to the children, or head to the barn? Did she glance out the window as she did her chores, longing for a glimpse of him as he toiled through his day? Did he rush back for his midday meal, hungry for her smile? Each night, did she reach for him in her sleep, entwine her legs with his for warmth? Did he awaken at midnight to watch her soft breath puff from her yielding lips? As the years flowed one into the other, did he notice the lines around her eyes when she laughed? Did she mind the gray in his morning stubble or the thinning of his hair? During those final moments, did they clutch hands and pledge everlasting love?

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Veterans Day"

           “Is that Daddy?” queried four-year-old Lizzy as she pointed her finger at a man dressed in green fatigues.
         The young mother squeezed her daughter’s hand tighter as she answered, “No. I’ll tell you what you need to do. Look at the caps the men are wearing. Your daddy’s cap is dirty.”
         Ten-year-old Paula nodded in affirmation. “Dad needs a new hat.”
         Restlessly, the two children watched as airmen purposefully strode across the tarmac. Suddenly, Lizzy tugged free of her mother’s grasp and dashed toward a man wearing a dirty hat. She wrapped her arms tightly around his legs in the tightest bear hug her little arms could muster. The young man attempted to disengage himself from the small child, his face growing red as he scanned the area.
         “Elizabeth Anne,” the girl’s mother dashed forward. “This man isn’t your daddy!”
         “But his cap is really dirty!” Lizzy exclaimed earnestly.
         The airman pulled his cap into his hands, embarrassed by the child’s observation and confusion.
         “My husband’s been on a long TDY,” the mother explained.
         “I understand completely,” the man said as he sidestepped the little family and continued on his way.
         Hand on hip and head shaking in disapproval of her little sister’s faux pas, Paula pointed to another cluster of men approaching the fence line. “There he is!”
And there he was! Dad with a brand new cap cocked on his head. He jogged away from the other men and scooped his girls into his arms.

Karl F. Abrams--circa 1948
         For years, my family teased me about the time I flung my arms around the man with the dirtiest cap, converting the story into a running joke that I threw myself at men. As an adult, though, I realize how much that childish mistake must have stung both of my parents. My mother did her best to talk about Dad when he left on long trips, but keeping his image strong in the mind of a four-year-old proved an almost impossible task. Tight on money, my parents didn’t have many photographs of each other around the house. After my mistake, my father gave me dashing picture of himself from when he first joined the Air Force to keep in my room.
         For Veterans Day, we pause to honor the men and women who serve in our military, but we should also reflect upon the sacrifice the families make. When a young man or woman decides to serve our country, his or her entire family becomes a military member. The soldier misses birthdays, Christmases, and anniversaries. The soldier misses that first step, the lost front tooth, the touchdown, and the first broken heart. Every moment of every day, the families of these men and women ache for the lost moments. Our tributes to these veterans must recognize the full scope of their sacrifices.

copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman