Published on Academy of American Poets (

After Words

Because the smallness of our being
is our only greatness.

Because one night I was in a room
listening until only one heart beat.

Because in these last years I’ve
worn and worn and nearly worn out
my black funeral shoes.

Because the gesture of after words
means the same thing no matter
who speaks them.
Because faith belief forever
are only words, no matter.
Because matter disappears
always and eventually.
Because action is not matter
but energy
that spent, changes being.

And if death, too, is a change of being
perhaps action counts.
And if death is a land of unknowing,
perhaps we do well to live with uncertainty.
And if death is a forested land,
it would be good to learn trees.
And if death is a kingdom,
it would be good to practice service.
And if death is a foreign state
we should loosen allegiance to this one.
And if the soul leaves our body
then we must rehearse goodbye.


Originally published in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Issue 54. Copyright © 2014 by Kimberly Blaeser. Used with the permission of the author.


Kimberly Blaeser

Kimberly Blaeser is the author of five collections of poetry. The former Wisconsin poet laureate, Blaeser is an MFA faculty member for Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and a professor of English and Indigenous studies at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Date Published: 2018-04-05

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