“Letter to Myself, 15 Years After the Affair” by Sarah McKinstry-Brown

Sarah McKinstry-Brown


He said that if he had more lifetimes, he’d give you
at least two. But you really just wanted the one

you made for yourselves between midnight and sunrise
every other Thursday night at the Holiday Inn.

You knew it was easy to be the other woman.
When he pulled you toward him,

neither of you had to work to soften. There was no trash to take out,
no dishes, no children, nothing stacked

between you. Friends said you deserved better,
but deserve had nothing to do with it.

The night he said, Baby, we were born to bruise,
his hand turned up the stars, and that stupid city

finally receded until nothing was left but the two of you,
famous in each other’s arms, your bodies working like cogs,

the thick motel curtains shut tight
against the coming morning.

You didn’t even mind the dark that came after,
when he slipped away to drive his kids to school

and you were left to your dreaming,

their small faces, echoes,
slowly coming into focus.

from Rattle #52, Summer 2016

[download audio]


Sarah McKinstry-Brown: “I’ve wanted to see my work printed on Rattle’s pages ever since I read my first Bob Hicok poem, ‘Elegy,’ in the journal (circa 2003). Hicok’s poem was written in one long stanza with these incredible line breaks, and reading the poem felt a lot like driving along California’s infamous costal highway 101. At night. In dense fog. I know because I’ve driven that highway before under those conditions, my hands at ten and two, gripping the wheel, praying the whole way. I guess that’s how I feel a lot of the time when I’m writing anything that’s worth a damn—it feels dangerous, but I know I have to do it if I want to stay alive and find my way back home.” (website)

Rattle Logo