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Poetry By Elinor Chaum

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The River Nile


The Egyptian song sings its harmonic melody
as the ship glides effortlessly
through the waters of the River Nile.

A white egret glides in the afternoon air
its wings echo the sail of the felucca as
Egyptians return home for the evening.

The banks of the river are a verdant green
there is a tropical feeling to the landscape
as palm trees cling to limestone earth.

The palms hide a desert behind their swaying branches.
Ancient ruins cling to what is left of banks not
swallowed  up by the hungry waters of the Aswan
their stories so old I cannot understand what they are
revealing.

Today, I have seen Temples so awesome
I cannot comprehend their enormity.
Columns, sculptures, and reliefs all telling Egyptian life stories.
All left for an eternity to see and ponder.

The air smells different here they burn sugar cane and whatever,
white smoke rises like dust from limestone and
as it rises against the barren brown hills, it looks like rain clouds
but it doesn't rain here in Egypt, not very often.

My guide who has seen many years tells me
he has only seen rain twice in his lifetime.

The boat floats quietly the music enhancing the daily scene
beauty surrounded by harshness, past the fisherman in small boats,
and farmers giving water buffalo a cooling river bath
like a Mother to a Babe.

Lotus plants float leisurely in the water -- no place in particular to go.
Bleak bare hills begin to appear behind the lush trees.
I am at peace and the late afternoon breeze is comforting after a very hot day
The sun lowers the long day will become a warm night.

Today, Tombs carved into hillsides, they
tried to hide themselves as best they could
but the grave robbers knew.

Maybe it is better the world know about a civilization whose
treasures can equal today's marvels.

But the mighty Aswan threatens these treasures, as salts
seep into those temple stones, no more
floods to wash them away.

While helping its people it is destroying it's past - the Temples -
Egypt's lifeblood is dying.

The sun sets as I take in the history of the moment,
as we move I am moved,
past and present have melded in my bones.

The boat glides, the breeze cools,
the melody sings a chanting last song signaling
the lateness of the night.

As my trip on the Nile ends,
I have come to understand the fragility of this ancient land
and her dependency on this River Nile.


Elinor Chaum 2002

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Bio: Elinor Chaum writes: I felt the need to write poems a year and a half after my husband of 38 years died tragically . I remember reading "Women Who Run With the Wolves", and something touched me deeply inside.  A few weeks later poems started coming at me so fast and furious that some I was never able to capture. I knew this was a way for me to express my grief and I was grateful. I wrote 33 poems in three months time. Interestingly, not all are about grief, there are so many other subjects and some are funny poems.  I find today when an event happens, such as Oklahoma City and the 9/11 tragedy, I feel the need to express my feelings, and somehow the words are there for me.