Poem of the Week

[Valuing sincerity most of all]

Katie Berta

Valuing sincerity most of all, you felt yourself estranged from yourself. Leaving a part of it behind, a part of your sincerity, there was nearly nothing you could say that struck yourself as true. Everything rang a note off. Everything wrung like a rag in your brain. Your brain a sort of wrung-out thing. A tired thing. It was tiring to always have to think about it, the hitch in you, in everything you said, as you tried to think. Valuing sincerity most of all, and finding yourself hypocritical, you started looking for it elsewhere. And look where that got you. Your therapist would say, it got you here. It got you to be this person you are now, who is beautiful. The person you are now is not a person you are not. At least that is a relief. There are many people who are not you. That’s part of what you could say you learned, here. Many people are not you. They belong outside. You don’t have to let them in.

Katie Berta is the managing editor of The Iowa Review. Her poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, Massachusetts Review, and other magazines. You can find her criticism in American Poetry Review, West Branch, and elsewhere.
Originally published:
March 30, 2022

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