Poetry 180: After Us

[Image via Julie at Pinterest]

Another piece in this “series” that I recently enjoyed in my latest endeavor and resolution to write and read more poetry, starting with Billy Collins’ compilation of Poetry 180.

After Us by Connie Wanek

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.


4th Sunday of Lent. This season is going by so quickly. I’m still reading the devotionals from FPC, and reflecting on the sermons/texts from each Sunday in conjunction with reading poetry. We had the familiar John 3:16 passage, and the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus late at night. Fitting for the theme this week: Seeking Christ in the night. The night holds so many images – a time of hiding and doing things in secret, a time when what haunts and burdens us by day seems to take on a whole new weight, and a time when sometimes scary creatures – real and fantasy – go bump in the night. For me this past year, the night was a struggle – what with the babies’ and their needs. I was struck by Andy’s reminder that even though our struggles in the dark may seem so lonely and isolating, we have the One who came to us as Emmanuel during that parallel season not-too-long-ago. And, truly, there were very tangible moments that I felt God’s comforting nearness. No voice, no specific words, just nearness. Sometimes that’s all one needs to make it through the night.

But, I’m also struck by the question posed in today’s devotional: Have you ever had a conversation late at night that changed you?

I can think of a number of conversations – snippets – from different seasons. Words about faith and theology. Words about relationships. Words about loss and confusion. Words about potential and possibility. Words about fears. Words about hope.

The common thread throughout these conversations wasn’t the topic or even the conclusions, but the person. It was the sense of grace I felt in those moments, and God’s presence. It made everything truly bearable so that I could carry on through the night and turn my face to the promise of morning, and whatever the day might hold for me.

Be Present, Merciful God, and protect us through the silent
hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by changes and
chances of this fleeting world, may rest upon your eternal
The Leonine Sacramentary

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