by KateLynn Hibbard


           “The writer should never be ashamed of staring.”
           — Flannery O'Connor

I want to write about how beautiful people are, especially in their cars when they think no one is looking, faces in repose at a traffic light, anonymous and unassuming, daydreaming, having made this trip so many times they don’t need to pay attention. I want to write about the small dry leaves on the side of the road and the smell of their decay, but I don’t want to say decay, or sweetness, or death. I want to write about my mother, but nothing very poignant. The man in the car behind mine stared at the same nothing I saw, and what was in his gaze, his face shaded, maybe he was thinking of pizza for lunch, or his hiking trip in the Sierras, or his recent diagnosis of cancer — but his face was peaceful, beatific, and I loved to watch him looking through the window. I like to stare at people, to take each face in, make them part of me for a while. My mother had the same talent or affliction, and many times I caught her staring at me, drinking me in, the way they say lovers do. What must it be like birthing children — not the actual act, but the fact that you are part of someone forever — you send them out in the world knowing you were their first, deepest love, their drinking in, their face of all faces, their thoughtless beauty.

KateLynn Hibbard’s books are Sleeping Upside Down, Sweet Weight, and Simples, winner of the 2018 Howling Bird Press Poetry Prize. Some journals where her poems have appeared include Barrow Street, Ars Medica, Nimrod, and Prairie Schooner. Editor of When We Become Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwest Experience, she teaches at Minneapolis College, sings with One Voice Mixed Chorus, and lives with many pets and her spouse Jan in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Please visit for more information.