Laryssa Wirstiuk

Lost at the Ashram


No, I haven’t read Eat, Pray, Love, but isn’t the point

that some broad visits an ashram to find herself?


While she’s eating, praying, and loving, I’m thinking
of myself as that caricature: white woman wanting


something outside of herself, some meaning
impossible to find in a city so crowded; no matter


where she goes, she’s always in her own way,
and rent’s too high to budget for spiritual dalliance.


For my twenty-ninth birthday, I bought a Groupon
for an ashram in Woodbourne: just seventy-nine


dollars for two nights in a shared, single-sex room,
meatless meals, meditation, yoga, and a view.


I was told I should bring my bicycle, so I dusted off
my Raleigh comfort bike with the padded cushion


and waited in the parking lot with spandexed hopefuls.
This was a tour, not a race, right? I grew nervous,


pulled at the mala bead strand around my neck,
but inner peace won’t stop me from careening


down a paved country road at impossible speeds
yet still somehow behind the others. I’d have to find


my own way back. Thank someone/thing I brought
my cell phone, despite my twenty-first century guilt,


because I had no idea how to orient myself
with all that pollen in my eyes, the fresh air high.


I wasn’t the only one lost: found using Google Maps
was the way back and two bewildered cyclists.


“I know the way.” It was in my pocket, not my hand
gripping handlebar so tightly my knuckles were white.

Laryssa Wirstiuk is a writer and writing instructor based in Jersey City, NJ. She teaches writing and digital media at Rutgers University - New Brunswick. Her book The Prescribed Burn won Honorable Mention in the 21st Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards (Mainstream Fiction category). Her writing has been published in IthacaLit, Hamilton Stone Review, and A3 and is forthcoming in Instigatorzine and The Stockholm Review of Literature. You can view all her work here:


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