‘Self-Portrait as Unsent Lines,
Unsent Letter’
A Poem by Rebecca Hazelton

From the Collection Gloss

Self-Portrait as Unsent Lines, Unsent Letter

Hello. Hello dear. Dear one. Dearest. Dear to whom
my concern draws near. I write to you from Oklahoma.
From a small town in Georgia, sweltering. Blue sky above,
clear. Gray day, train trestles. Night with no distinction
between the water and the sky except for stars and stars
reflected. I write to you with the ticking keyboard
of my smartphone. A pen in my hand. A pencil stub.
Paper folded and refolded. Dear one, I stutter to start.
This tongue can’t shape the words. A mouth full of spit.
When I last spoke. When I last saw you. When I last spoke
to you I saw you for the first time in the shape
of the last time. Such a relief when a city block erupted
between us, then a stretch of street, then miles, blissful.
Still I write to you. I text. There is no emoticon denoting
the distance between a face and its expression.
I am enclosing a photograph. I am attaching an image.
I no longer love the way you block the light. I am not attached
to your feet. Every night while you slept I picked the stitches
free, but then I had to learn to walk again. I took this picture
of the empty bed so you’d remember the shape of my body,
so I could imagine my return.

From Gloss by Rebecca Hazelton. Reprinted by permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. © 2019 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.

Rebecca Hazelton
Rebecca Hazelton
Rebecca Hazelton is the author of Fair Copy, Vow, and the chapbook Bad Star, and the coeditor of The Manifesto Project. Her poems have appeared in Boston Review, Poetry, and The New Yorker. A two-time Pushcart Prize winner, she is an assistant professor of English at North Central College. Her latest collection is Gloss.

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