“City of Refuge” by Katherine Barrett Swett

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.”


Katherine Barrett Swett is the guest on episode #37 of the Rattlecast! Click here to watch …

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