After, Always After

by Joyce Sutphen

I wake up wondering which side of things
I'm on. Is it before or after now?
After. It will always be after, though
the world outside my window is green,

and light floods the horizon to fill up
the bowl of the sky. I check the voices
on the radio: they're sunny, partly
cloudy at news-time. Traffic is moving
on the roads and in the air; I hear it
in the usual places. Last night I dreamed

it never happened, that the past was not
yet passed, and there was still a chance this day
was on its way to a different time
where before and after were words that rhymed.

Joyce Sutphen teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota and is the author of two books of poetry.

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