PLAN B PRESS Issue
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.
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
in Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 2010.