Patience Road Sign
Parking Lot Anxieties
by Courtney Mae Cochran

I was 22 and working on Master’s degree and couldn’t drive.
But how the hell do I overcome the confines of my history?

The keys in my hand I knew this was a step to getting out of poverty.
My best friend sat next to me calmly talking me through mechanics.

The car’s name was Prince.
His bumper was held together by rainbow duct tape.

We drove in the parking lot of that church for weeks.
My anxieties had peaks and lulls.

The one consistency was my teacher.
My best friend had what my parents never did—patience.

My best friend and Prince eased me out of my poverty trap.
They eased away my shame about familial poverty and ignorance.

My best friend and Prince took me to the DMV.
Multiple times. Until I passed.

IMAGE: “Patience Road Sign” by Andy Dean, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My creative process is rooted in the processing of my own traumas and life. I spin the pain of my past and present most into poetry. Some poems manifest as angry rants and other soft, gentle coos about the life I live. Much of my subject matter is the battle between the poverty, trauma, chaos of my childhood and the current relatively privilege lifestyle I have created for myself. In this, I often write about my family, as I am one of very few in my family who have escaped the cycles of generational poverty.


Courtney Mae Cochran
grew up in River Falls, Wisconsin, and moved to Duluth, Minnesota, in 2009 for school, completing bachelor’s degrees in Political Systems and Social Work, and a master’s degree in Social Work. She has nearly eight years of experience working in housing and homelessness sectors, both in direct service and systems change capacities between the Loaves & Fishes Catholic Worker Community, The Human Development’s Homeless Project, and her current role at CHUM as the Congregational Outreach Director and Volunteer Coordinator at CHUM. Her biggest passions are in faith-based community organizing, restorative justice, empowerment of young leaders, and racial equity. She loves sewing, everything outdoorsy, writing, theology, public policy, punk music, and old horror movies.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken at my church The Duluth Superior Friends (Quaker) Meeting House in the Summer of 2015 by photographer Michael Nordin.