Ellie White

The Doorway

Ellie White



Brace your feet against the smooth
baseboards. Feel your palms slip
across the paint’s satin finish.

Use every muscle in your ten-
year-old body to keep the door
closed. Know you are strong.

On the other side, she snaps
her jaw, charges the door
again and again.

Her nails scrape merely an inch
from your spine. You hear wood
splintering, smell her matted fur.

A grating snarl escapes your throat.
Of course, you are hers.





            The National Gallery, Edinburgh, 2015


It’s true. I did not need
them, the mounds of flesh
where my children should have
fed, their milkteeth nibbling
cracked skin, suckling little drops of
blood with every gulp of milk.
Still, as I lie bleeding,
my breasts carried away in a bowl
(perhaps given to a hungry dog)
I want them back. I send a prayer
like a stumbling child to heaven.
I wait in blooming red.





The National Gallery, Dublin, 2015

I’m surrounded by 24 photos
of the Aran Islands. On my knees,
the bruises from Inishmaan
not yet faded. In my backpack,
a shredded pair of denim leggings:
I remember them catching on the edge
of a flat stone atop a ruined chimney.
The stone tipped with half of me
still on it; the rocks under my feet shifted.
Fifteen feet below, the ground gaped
with hungry stones. All of them waiting.
I made a strange sound, almost
primitive, like a whimper.

Ellie White has been trying to teach people how to hallucinate since 1986. She holds a BA in English from The Ohio State University, and an MFA from Old Dominion University. Ellie writes nonfiction and poetry. Her poems have been published inFreezeRay Poetry and Harpur Palate, as well as other journals. Her poetry chapbook, Requiem for a Doll, was released by ELJ Publications in June 2015. Ellie’s work has won an Academy of American Poets College Poetry Prize and a Best of the Net nomination. She served as Poetry Editor at Barely South Review for three years, and currently reads nonfiction for Four Ties.