Two Poems by Fran Schumer

High Summer

I trudged through the day,
figured and refigured
plane routes, train routes
which buses to take
to see my aging parents.

My husband and our neighbor
would figure it out on the spot,
in the station, on the platform
bang bang it’s done — in situ
but I am not an in situ girl.

I plan
I worry.

Different parts of their bodies fail
lungs, livers, my father’s skin so delicate
it tears on the sheets at night.
Only their hearts keep beating
their ancient hearts
their faithful, ancient hearts
keep beating
keep loving us
keep us loving them.

Their kind doctors speak
in numbers, percentages, odds.

At dusk, I finish packing when I notice
the light, low and golden.
It’s high summer, early August
sunset still an hour off
the days warm and lasting.

Why not, I think, and carry my dinner
out to the deck where I listen
to the birds, the flap from the oven vent
tap tap-ing against the wall
watch the golden light
lick every leaf of oak and beech
until they glisten.
And I wonder
What did I ever do to deserve such happiness?

Ghost Writer

Who knew what a good job
it was for me who loved
to pretend I was someone else,
the only way
I knew to be myself.

They told me their stories
and I became a young lawyer
fired for marrying her boss;
an actress who gained and
lost and re-gained weight;
a thief; a bulimic; a druggie.

I slipped into their bodies
like ghosts in old movies,
cast spells to make them
heroes, victims, saints
and martyrs — and writers!

When we finished, I missed
them. But when I tried to
write my own book, the spirit
vanished. All that remained
was a ghost-white page.

Fran Schumer is a journalist and author. Her poetry has been published in The New Verse News, Hole In The Head Review, and Contrary. Another poem is forthcoming in Prospectus. In 2021, she won a second-place poetry fellowship from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She majored in Social Studies at college but wishes she had spent the time studying Keats.

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