Oh Brother

by Ellen White Rook


Through the window in your front door
I see the pile of unopened mail
sliding from beneath the mail slot
around the corner to the living room
where a rocking chair is baffled
with log cabin quilts
Petals from the Christmas cactus
skitter on the hardwood floor
red wrinkled to the palest brown

I wanted to tell you I walked
in the park we had talked of going to
near the old house but closer to the river
through stone gates
up and down the sculpted hills
still raw from winter

There were swaths of blue Siberian Squill
pushing through the noisy leaves
and at the overlook
I could see a dozen swans
swimming upriver
parallel to the Seekonk’s shore
On the bench
where I wanted to sit down
the way we used to sit
I would eat an apple
You would smoke a cigarette

It would not have changed anything
but I should have brought you coffee
or a pot of pansies
their faces cheerful
but bruised

Ellen White Rook is a poet and teacher of contemplative arts residing in Albany, NY and South Portland, Maine. She offers writing workshops and leads Sit, Walk, Write retreats that merge meditation, movement, and writing. She also teaches ikebana, Japanese flower arranging. Ellen is a graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program at Lindenwood University. Her work has been published in New Verse News, Red Rock Review, Black Fork Review, New Note Poetry, Trolley Literary Journal, and more. In 2021, two of her poems were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Read more of her work at