Alternate Self-Portrait

One day

I will drift

into darkness

and know it


the way a son

recognizes a mother

after he has returned

from many years

of travel


the new distance

is neither

beginning nor


only stillness


Copyright © 2015 by Dean Rader. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 30, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“There are a lot of self-portraits or faux self-portraits in my forthcoming book, Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry, as the title might suggest. In this poem, I had been thinking about unusual self-portraits, in particular portraits at the moment of death (rare) as opposed to those at the moment of birth (legion). And I began wondering if death were not something new but later something intimately known; the comfortable welcoming place we were before we were born.”
Dean Rader