Afterglow

J.R. Solonche

I asked the poet what her poem

was about because at first I thought

it was about sex, and then I thought it

was about a nuclear war, and then I thought

it was about sex again. I thought it was about

sex because of the lightning and the tides

ebbing and flowing and the crater and,

of course, because of the title, “Afterglow,”

but then I changed my mind and thought

it was about a nuclear war because of

the lightning and the tides ebbing and

flowing and the crater and especially because

the stuff that filled the crater was green

which I took to be new grass growing

after the nuclear war and semen is yellow,

not green, and because of the title, “Afterglow,”

and I changed my mind and thought it was

really about sex after all because of the ending

with its Ah and Oh, aftermath and afterglow,

which so reminded me of the lovely light

of Edna Millay’s both-ends-burning candle,

which is about sex. So I asked the poet

what her poem was about, and she stared

at me and said, It’s self-evident, and I said,

You’re right. It is. I said, How stupid

of me to ask, and she stared at me

and said, That, too, is self-evident, and she

turned away to talk to someone else, and

I was left there in the corner, alone in

the afterglow of the sex of our nuclear war.

(p. 13, The Hong Kong Review, Vol. III, No. 3)