Poem of the Week: After reading “After”


After reading “After” by Octavio Paz

Diane McDonough, Cape Cod Branch


After telling myself

no day after day,

the way mother did when asked if

I could do something …


after the nos stacked on top of one another

like bricks in a wall

that kept me safe —


I mean safe as defined by mother,

meaning out of the water, off the street,

away from germs, prepared for Holy Communion.


But after today,

longest day of light,

I want to chisel out the mortar,

remove the bricks that say no,


you can’t, you aren’t capable

or, isn’t it going to rain, snow, be too hot,

dark, bright….I want to kneel here


after the rain, in the mud, amidst the strewn

bricks and create a runway that leads

into a garden of wildflowers


and accidental blooming,

and then out

to one rowdy, unpredictable life.


Editor’s note:  Octavio Paz won The Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990


  1. I so enjoyed this poem and shared it with several female friends, plus John L., who is a local poet. He wrote back to me…” The poem is very good. Her name is Irish and I suppose her mother was Catholic and protecting daughters from the world was in the last generation a duty for them. Interestingly I was reading a piece by a woman writer about how reading was an escape into alternate worlds. Fortunately in the new world of this country girls were sent to schools, even if Catholic, and learned how to read. I’d like you to pass this on so I could hear from the author. – John” He is intrigued by what inspired your poem and if you are willing to share your thoughts, his e-mail is john49vl@sbcglobal.net. Thanks, Debbie P.

  2. Loved this poem…loved the vision of a child breaking through
    the brick wall safety of childhood to explore the adult world beyond. Well done.

  3. Loved it…

  4. Carole Mertz says:

    I love the way this poem opens out into its unpredictable future. Nice unfolding of a theme!