Published on Academy of American Poets (

& After the Power Came Back 

for the students  

     The great dead circled the serrated
  hills; they tried to remind you
       to breathe. An old rat crawled
under fire-forgotten rocks; it was called
          & pulled to a movable nothing 
     far from the human need to
        heed & heal.  Maybe you can’t
find it now, but the season
     hauls the wind inside & because 
     you’re a student, you can put     
some questions in your phone, especially
   when you feel you shouldn’t cry…

 Stipple the worry, the grief-torn, those 
    patterns of should & won’t  ::;   new
 minutes set in past danger—  spikelet 
or callus on the roadside;  you
      stop in awe & are home. 
Your human burden varies; the once  
boundless freedom you sought even in 
      private still pulses on your skin...
     The little thistles between the human  
& non-human animals, the linked auras 
in trees & a colorful radiance
   of bodies are hunched to begin—


Copyright © Brenda Hillman. This poem originally appeared in Clade Song. Used with permission of the author.


Brenda Hillman

Brenda Hillman is the author of ten poetry collections, including In a Few Minutes Until Later (Wesleyan University Press, 2022) and Extra Hidden Life, among the Days (Wesleyan University Press, 2018). She received the Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 2012 and currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Date Published: 2020-12-01

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