The Triptych and I – a poem by Sara Letourneau

The Triptych and I

When you look at a landscape photograph,
what do you see? Most likely the scene itself,
all wildlife and weather and time of day—
and certainly not the soul’s terrain.
That was what I had believed before
the triptych caught my eye and bade me stop
at the gallery’s front door,
its panorama of a Cape Cod sunset
bathing clouds and beach in pastel violet-blue
and tugging at an anchor under my ribs.

Before I knew it,
I had drifted across the threshold
like a dinghy whose moorings had come loose.
Maybe I still would have noticed the triptych
if it had been a single, larger whole.
But at that moment, those three acrylic panels
hanging side by side displayed
not just sand and twilight, but an evening
that I swore was my self-portrait.

I was the setting sun, radiating light
that was all my own yet hiding from view.
I was the ocean tides, reaching for land
despite the moon’s backward pull.
I was the beachcomber roaming the shore,
gathering seashells yet knowing I had already found
what I was looking for.
I was silver and emberglow, cerulean and rose,
horizon and cosmos, all the things I wished
I had seen in myself sooner.

I didn’t take the triptych home with me.
Nor did I ask for its title or the photographer’s name.
Instead, I carried the memory out the door
like a tangling in the throat
when you feel understood even though
you haven’t spoken a single word.


Sara Letourneau is a poet, freelance book editor, and writing coach. Her poems are forthcoming in or have appeared in Constellations, Mass Poetry’s Poem of the Moment, Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene, The Aurorean, and Soul-Lit, among others. You can learn more about working with Sara at and read more of her poetry at

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