There are places in time
where meetings unleash
the fires of forever
burning everything behind
but these meetings missed change minds
change lives, so nothing is left
save simple simmering smoke
only embers in infinite time
a speck in the void of endless space.
There are places in time
I searched her face for it
in her eyes that had seen
a spectrum of scenes over years
her brow which she could have bent
signaling absolution, but she didn’t.
The last thing she gave was a reluctant smile
so I thought maybe she’s coming round
but before I could sit
listen as she told me again to toughen up
to always hold my head up high
in this world of vultures, redemption, sin
before I could talk to her of mistakes
and regret, her soul fled.
She died at night, a woman
who could command the attention
of any room, at the end laying cowered,
alone on the ground, taking with her
any possibility of peace between us.
Your ashes will sit in a lifeless urn
of dead stone, on a table of dark tone.
Your remains will wait quietly
till you are called back by the One
to be put back together again
to be given back everything
the tumors took away
one by one
your body healed, your eyes of soft hue
red blood back, flowing forward and through
so the whole face is lit up again.
Then, there will be resplendence
with the feeling of your warming light
without guilt, without pain
when finally one day, we see you again.
I became friends with Elaine Paliatsas-Haughey through Writers for Writers, an online writer’s group, of which we are both members; her supportive attitude in this group sparked a conversation between us. Now, we often talk about topics related to writing and the writing world.
Despite chronic health problems, Elaine stays positive. Part of this positive outlook comes from will power, and part of it comes from her family, which is the most important thing in the writer’s life. Elaine is married and has a four year old daughter named Zoe, who is the center of her world. Also, Elaine is close to her parents, especially her father, and says that, “my father has been my rock. When I woke up from my heart transplant, he was sitting and waiting to talk to me.” Now in her thirties, Elaine had to have a heart transplant when she was 13, after noticing that she was having trouble breathing and couldn’t lie down flat. The diagnosis was cardiomyopathy, or heart failure. She needed a heart transplant to survive and, luckily, received one on December 11, 1989. She just celebrated the 25th anniversary of her life-saving transplant.
Family has not only been central in Paliatsas-Haughey’s outlook but has also influenced her decision to become a writer. Her father’s life story continues to inspire the author. She says, “I really look up to my dad. I’ve seen the American Dream in action through him. His immigrant story is very typical – he grew up in a one room house with a dirt floor and had to go up and down a mountain to get to school. Today he is a successful owner of a diner in New Jersey.”
Paliatsas-Haughey’s mother also has a Greek background, although she grew up in the United States. In the seventies, she visited Greece where she met her future husband, and the couple travelled back to the U.S. to start a family together. The writer notes that her cultural background has given her greater insight into others, which also inspires her in her writing. She says, “As a child of immigrants, you feel that you are in between worlds. I’ve noticed that living between two cultures has always made me akin to otherness. I, myself, sometimes feel like the other, and am able to relate to people that have experienced this feeling.” Elaine uses this sense of empathy to give back in her interaction with others and to the community at-large.
For Elaine, 2012 was the year when her writing career really started coming together. She attended Philadelphia Stories’ Push to Publish conference and was really excited to talk to professors like Carla Spataro and Richard Bank. She found this to be a very supportive environment, and this conference made her more excited about her aspirations to be a writer.
When Elaine isn’t writing, she is busy with a packed schedule. During the school year, she teaches grade school full time, and is a student at Rowan’s MA in Writing Program. Also, she is an administrator for Writers for Writers, Philadelphia and the Creative Nonfiction Editor for The City Key. She is the founder of The Scars and Tattoos Project, a collaborative multimedia project. For this year’s exhibit of Scars and Tattoos, approximately six writers, two photographers, and an oil painter will create a literary and visual presentation based on the underlying theme of tattoos and scars, emotional or physical. This year’s exhibit will take place in Summer 2016.
Elaine’s publications include “Whore Tie,” published by Philadelphia Stories, “Philadelphia Phlobodemy,” published by The City Key, and “Blood Bath” published by Philly Flash Inferno. The author is currently working on a full-length memoir. To hear more from Elaine follow her on Twitter @EPH1013 and on WordPress.com at elaineph.wordpress.com.