July 19, 2019

Katherine Barrett Swett


I dream we’re exiled to a distant land,
a home for careless parents searching for
the lost, a place where locals understand
we’ll never find what we had years before;
and when a stranger there makes idle chat,
we know he’ll know that we have a dead child
or two and he does too and he’ll know that
you talk about the dead as if alive.
For in the waking world we hesitate
to mention her; we have to make a choice
between our neighbor’s staring at his plate
and somehow seeming to have lost his voice,
or our just saying that we have no daughter,
the way a drunk might say his gin was water.

from Rattle #63, Spring 2019


Katherine Barrett Swett: “I write a poem every day. I always write in a notebook, on lined paper, with a sharp pencil. Some days I do not get to my notebook until late at night and have no more than ten minutes; other days I spend more than an hour on a poem. I write in the house and outdoors, at my desk and on the subway, before my first cup of coffee and after my last glass of wine. I write free verse, haiku, sonnets, villanelles. Subsequently I choose the better efforts, and revise and edit on the computer. I can go a month and write nothing that will ever leave my notebook, or I could have a week where every day I write something that I want to type up. I live with a photographer, and I think my notebook is a bit like his contact sheets—you look for the image that is worth working over in the dark room—or nowadays in Photoshop—and then printing.”

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