Published on Academy of American Poets (

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


Dean Rader

Dean Rader is the author of Self-Portrait as a Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon Press, 2017) and Suture (Black Lawrence Press, 2017), collaborative sonnets written with Simone Muench. He teaches at the University of San Francisco, and lives in San Francisco

Date Published: 2015-12-30

Source URL: