“Self-Portrait as a Highway” by Sarah Hart

Sarah Hart


Lately I’ve been spending more
time getting by on my looks,
pretty, unaware, not quite there
in the head sometimes,
a little like Highway 61
when it’s night and the street
lights have not come
and who can say whether it’s skirted
by undivided fields
or oceans,

a little
like Highway 61
with arms that stretch
both ways passing by moments
of towns,
and it will not name them
but you know them
so well

in the center of the Mississippi Delta
where they tell you to drive
once on the other side
at the day’s end
just to know how it feels,

but how can you
reverse the direction
of a body
like that?

Sometimes I stare
at myself naked
for another minute
to note the flat,
the dry,
the movement of it all
which is

a little like Highway 61, which is
a departure from what holds you,
which is a way through,
which is always just enough
to get you
but it will not keep you.

from Rattle #53, Fall 2016


Sarah Hart: “During my first poetry workshop in college, I read W.S. Merwin’s ‘Yesterday.’ While reading the poem, I realized that I was entering into a conversation with a person whom I had never met, and yet with someone who understood me in the most complete sense. This was the beginning of my dialogue with poetry. I write because I want to continue the conversation.”

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