Ellen White Rook

Three Poems – Ellen White Rook

After loss

Let me
tell you
what I found
jay feather
blue black gray
a stone
from a crushed driveway
like a fortification
the paper fortune teller
fallen from a child’s notebook
I fly the wings
and peel open
the final triangle
in block letters
no when only
a season could

I found the scissors
that were never lost
they were pinking
shears and every heart
had a rick rack

I found the cookbook
sticky brown with batter
instructions stuck
to paper words

When I dug
I found my
trowel-arm tendon sore
I found ash under
both thumbnails

The upside-down clock
makes nonsense
of the day
what time is it
are we there yet

The treasures
in my jeans pocket trip
the translucent shaft
empty of
itself like
chipmunk tunnels
and the small hill
behind the high green
hedge in the cemetery
where they put
the sand and clay
from graves


Natalie Wood buys a cup of coffee

She’s wearing a scarf but not sunglasses
It’s cloudy and cold
Her dark hair waves lush
almost hidden
beneath a bright silk wrap
She buttons her camel
cashmere coat
She wears stiletto heels

Cup in hand, lips pursed, she turns away
unsteady over cobblestones
Is it true she doesn’t love the sea
even rocking waves?

How do her eyes prefer the world?
Gold and velvet? Black and white?
What splendor is she waiting for?

She dreams of beauty rising from the deep
She dreams of being lost and found
She dreams of too-fat Venus drifting on a shell
She was never innocent as love

She doesn’t speak or take a sip
One more iconic woman dreaming on a city street
like pigeons they all wear the same dull coat
They seem satisfied with crumbs
and are not


At Cashel Rock

My sister slept at Cashel rock
with her best friend
It was in the days before cell phones
They missed the tour bus call
Anyways there was no one to call
and nowhere to go
They could not remember how they came
The only lights were planets
and summer’s falling stars

All quiet
cows milked
and returned to sheds
Sheep ceased to bleat
There was only rock
limestone jagged huge
thrust like anger on bucolic fields
Built on that ruggedness
stone floors and roofless halls
the empty-arched cathedral
that overwhelmed the seat of kings
a place where prayer
has been accomplished and abandoned
surrounded by graves

Our people come from near this rock
They may have passed it on the road to market
or on that last journey to the ship that took them here
They might have looked at it the way
I see the slaughterhouse
beside the highway
defunct unusable but still
unyielding hard
a thick-walled ruin that smells
of dust and fire and blood


Ellen White Rook is a poet and contemplative arts teacher living in upstate New York and southern Maine. Retired from a career in information technology, she now offers writing workshops and leads retreats that merge meditation, movement, and writing. Ellen is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at Lindenwood University. Her work has been published in New Verse News, Black Fork, New Note Poetry, The Banyan Review, Quibble, The Dewdrop, Trolley, and more. A collection of poems, Suspended, is forthcoming from Cathexis Northwest Press in spring 2023.

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