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After Us

I don't know if we're in the beginning
or in the final stage.
               -- Tomas Tranströmer

Rain is falling through the roof.
And all that prospered under the sun,
the books that opened in the morning
and closed at night, and all day
turned their pages to the light;

the sketches of boats and strong forearms
and clever faces, and of fields
and barns, and of a bowl of eggs,
and lying across the piano
the silver stick of a flute; everything

invented and imagined,
everything whispered and sung,
all silenced by cold rain.

The sky is the color of gravestones.
The rain tastes like salt, and rises
in the streets like a ruinous tide.
We spoke of millions, of billions of years.
We talked and talked.

Then a drop of rain fell
into the sound hole of the guitar, another
onto the unmade bed. And after us,
the rain will cease or it will go on falling,
even upon itself.

—Connie Wanek

from Poetry magazine
Volume CLXXVII, Number 3, January 2001

Copyright 2001 by The Modern Poetry Association.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Connie Wanek. Copyright 2001 by The Modern Poetry Association. For further permissions information, contact Connie Wanek, 1812 Lakeview Dr., Duluth, MN 55803. or Poetry, 60 West Walton Street, Chicago, IL 60610 or

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Connie Wanek (1952- ) is the author of two poetry collections, including On Speaking Terms (Copper Canyon Press, 2010). Wanek was born in Madison, Wisconsin and lived on a farm outside Green Bay and in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She was educated at New Mexico State University.

Learn more about Connie Wanek at The Poetry Foundation.