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My mother teaches me the secret of what to do when you don't know where you are

Ellen White Rock

           On the way back

from piano lessons

the smell of Miss Stuart’s meatloaf

and my missed notes snarling

our hair,

          she confesses

she doesn’t know where

we are. She says

          Let’s pick someone

who looks as though they know

where they going

and follow them.

          We settle

on the red beckoning

of a dented Ford wagon

which leads us over

the black river, down

a grand boulevard

past a graveyard

with curling iron gates.

I rest my forehead

against the window,

feel the cool, flat night

seep into my eyes.

This starts to happen


          I realize now

we never found ourselves

lost on the way somewhere

only when not quite

home, where what waited

was monotony of bath,
bedtime: One more
story.  One more glass
of water, tomorrow’s lunches,

laundry, ironing, bills.



we returned so late

the worn brown

paper bags

and cartoon-stamped

boxes are laid out

on the counter next

to slices of bread

facing each other

like tombstones or pages,

impenetrable pink

bologna on one side

bright mustard

smiles on the other.

Ellen White Rook is a poet, writer, and contemplative arts teacher who divides her time between upstate New York and Maine. Retired from a career as an information technology manager, she now offers writing workshops and leads retreats that combine meditation, movement, and writing. Ellen holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Lindenwood University and has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Suspended, her first collection of poetry, was released by Cathexis Northwest Press in May 2023. She also teaches ikebana, Japanese flower arranging. Visit her website at

Marina Outwater
Self-Portrait with Foliage

misery loves company

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