Volume 33, Number 1

Sometimes, afterwards

Sometimes you can feel the silence
sitting in the car in darkness,
leaves gleaming under streetlights
in the stillness after rain.

Sometimes even in the midst
of constant hurry and endless talk,
the mute hush of the universe
makes itself felt.

Sometimes, sitting together,
the gathered calm can be strong:
more nourishing than words,
even between friends.

But somewhere else
the wails of sirens pierce the night.
Helpless families watch in horror
as flames roar upwards.

Somewhere, gunfire sounds
in a city ripped apart.
Hurried figures dodge the snipers’ bullets
and bodies lie abandoned.

And sometimes, even
when it seems that life goes on,
numbness hides a daily struggle,
an unspoken hunger, a quiet death.

Sometimes, afterwards, when it’s all over,
someone calls for a minute’s silence
as the speechless stars watch on
and the earth turns.

—Jenny Edkins

first appeared in Inspirations: Poems inspired by the poetry of R. S. Thomas, ed. Lynda M. Warren (Machynlleth: Einion Books, 2019)