Conversation with Dr. Zhivago’s Lara in the Backseat of an Uber On the Way Home from My Therapy Appointment (Where My Therapist Told Me an Attachment Disorder Affects My Marriage)

by | Dec 15, 2022 | Poetry

Conversation with Dr. Zhivago’s Lara in the Backseat of an Uber On the Way Home from My Therapy Appointment (Where My Therapist Told Me an Attachment Disorder Affects My Marriage) by Ellen Austin-Li

Lara leans in and whispers,
“true love’s not carriages and cozy cottages.
Snow comes with cold. At first, the silver land-
scape’s magical. Then, you must wrap
yourself in furs. Romance starts
like a revolution but, in the end, it’s war.
The train leaves smoke trails and you see
your breath comes in clouds, alone.”

Dear Lara, let me tell you, I’ve lived
in your Russia. Waiting for the good doctor
to appear. A nest with one man under
the comforter. No comfort if no twin soul is there.
I want to say, fiction’s not your friend.
Listen: your perfect match dies
of a heart attack. The lesson is to stop
looking for lovers out every streetcar window.

But here, I ask Ousmane, my Uber driver,
how he got to Ohio from Senegal.
He shows me a photo of his wife of 30 years.
“She’s Khady,” he sings. “She makes me
crazy, but that’s the thing. She wants,” he shrugs,
“we’re here.” He points at his phone emphatically.
I lean in and hear myself say, “You stayed
that many years. She’s family.” At ride’s end,
I open the door, look up at my home.


Photo by CarSpotter, used and adapted under CC.

About The Author

Ellen Austin-Li

Ellen Austin-Li’s work has appeared in Artemis, Thimble Literary Magazine, The Maine Review, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Rust + Moth, and other places. A Best of the Net nominee, she’s published two chapbooks with Finishing Line Press: Firefly (2019) and Lockdown: Scenes From Early in the Pandemic (2021). She earned an MFA in Poetry at the Solstice Low-Residency Program. Ellen lives with her husband in a newly empty nest in Cincinnati, Ohio. She co-founded the monthly reading series “Poetry Night at Sitwell’s.”