Posted by: poet kate hutchinson | November 5, 2016

Facing What Comes After

cliff-edgeHere we go again, diving into the unknown.  We anxious types hate that, facing the “What Comes After.”  If you live in Chicagoland as I do, or are a baseball fan, you may be wondering What Comes After the goat curse has been broken.  And for every American, it applies to Wednesday morning, when we wake to the idea of a new — and certainly troubled — presidency that will carry us into 2020.

We set the clocks back again this weekend in our hapless quest to conquer time, but autumn marches on into a winter that has been predicted to be horrific here in the Midwest.  Today, however, it’s 70 degrees outside, and my impatiens are still blooming.  Climate change offers another abyss to stare into.

We can get sucked into the doomsday scenarios and freak out, or we can just dive in and manage whatever comes.  We who have stable lives and food on the table each day can remind ourselves that for many millions of people, the abyss they face is much deeper and darker, and we can shake off our angst and go about living. Plus, poetry helps.

So this poem, a golden shovel (with an extra-line cheat at the end), comes from my perspective as I stand at the edge — the final days of this horrendous political year.  There is relief in closure, even when what comes next may be nothing to celebrate.  Frankly, I will welcome some radio silence.



Gold in Shadows



“Autumn — the year’s last, loveliest smile”

(William Cullen Bryant, 19th century poet)

The trees rust and bleed.  Autumn

turns earth inside out, reveals the year’s

accumulated pain, signals one last

chance to glimpse — at dusk — the loveliest

swaths of gold between the shadows, like smiles

of the weary who are welcoming the dark.



I’ll add one final piece, which is the closing stanza of a poem by Len Anderson in Issue 49 of Rattle called “The Basic Question.”  Anderson’s attitude toward standing at the edge is rosier than mine….so I like it.




Don’t despair, just listen

as attentively as you can,

and when you can’t help it,

burst into song,

write down what you can

in whatever notation you have,

and pass it on.  You

are part of the song.


(Images by Ruby Blossom, Alamy, Mahran Banaei)


  1. I enjoy reading your poems Kate, you are unforgettable.

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