poetry quarterly

10th anniversary

PLAN B PRESS Issue

Ellen Sullins

Elsewhere won our 2007 poetry chapbook contest. I am including it here so that I can post the title poem, which is superb. For this project, our Creative Director, Katy May, created a simple window frame with 5 different views beyond: an oceanfront, a desert, an urban landscape, a mountain range with snow capped peaks, and a rural Italian landscape. It was a lot of work, but the results were marvelous.

 

ELSEWHERE

The folks who settled Missouri seemed to long for somewhere
else, judging by what they named their towns: California,

Versailles, Nirvana, New London, Cincinnati, Berlin,
Cuba and Belfast, Vienna, Lebanon, even Waterloo.

Their yearning permeated the soil of our farm, seeping
deep in its aquifer, was drunk by the timothy and grass

that fed our milk cows and the steers we butchered each fall,
composted itself in the garden to gestate potatoes we mined

from that earth, green beans we snapped, sugar peas zipped
from their pods with our thumbs, tomatoes plucked and eaten

right there, the flesh still warm from the sun and the juice
tasting of God’s holy promise.

And through my bloodstream that ache for elsewhere
thrummed, infused every cell, every tissue, organ, bone,

so that from the age of ten or less I thought of little else
but elsewhere. And now that I’ve settled in countless

elsewheres, never wanting to live again in that place,
decades of biting into counterfeit tomatoes from the store

cannot quell this need to taste again God’s promise on my tongue.

 


Ellen Sullins was raised on a farm in Missouri, but has also lived on the west coast, the east coast, places in the middle, and now seems to have settled in Tucson, AZ. She holds a PhD in social psychology and for 15 years was a university teacher and researcher in that field. Since retiring from academia, she has divided her time between practicing psychotherapy and writing poetry. Her work has appeared in Nimrod International, South Carolina Review, descant, Calyx, and Red Wheelbarrow.

 

Published in Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 2010.