By Sarah C. Harwell Sarah C. Harwell

for Hannah

The way my daughter sleeps it’s as if she’s talking
to the dead. Now she is one. I watch her eyes roll
backwards in her head, her senses fold
one by one, and then her breathing quiets to a beat.
Every night she fights this silent way of being
with all the whining ammunition that she has.
She wins a tired story, a smothered song, the small
and willful links to life that carry her away.
Welcome to the Egyptian burial. She’s gone to Hades
with her stuffed animals. When she wakes,
the sad circles disappeared, she blinks
before she knows me. I have listened
to one million breaths of her. And every night
my body seizes when she leaves to go
where I am not, and yet every night I urge her, go.

Sarah C. Harwell, “Dead” from Sit Down Traveler. Copyright © 2012 by Sarah C. Harwell. Reprinted by permission of Antilever Press.

Source: Sit Down Traveler (Antilever Press, 2012)

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Poet Sarah C. Harwell

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Parenthood, The Body, The Mind, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Tercet


Born in Nashville, poet Sarah C. Harwell earned a BA at the University of Toronto and an MLS and MFA at Syracuse University. She is the author of the collection Sit Down Traveler (2012) and, with Courtney Queeney and Farah Marklevits, Three New Poets (2006). In her poems, Harwell explores loss, intimacy, and mortality, often through the joys and dramas of motherhood and domestic rituals. In an interview with Sapling, Harwell . . .

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Poems by Sarah C. Harwell

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Parenthood, The Body, The Mind, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Tercet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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