Later Still

W. S. Merwin Click to

merwinBorn in New York City in 1927, W. S. Merwin is one of the most prolific and honored poets of his generation. Winner of the National Book Award and two Pulitzers, he has also served as United States Poet Laureate. A longtime activist for conservation, Merwin lives in Hawaii with his wife Paula. His most recent collection of poems is The Moon Before Morning (Copper Canyon, 2014). His poem "Later Still" was first printed in Shenandoah 48/3.

How could it be that none of us saw it
when we were there all of us that one time
standing with our arms around each other
smiling it had been so long since we
had been together perhaps we scarcely
noticed anything else in the ancient
beautiful city we had loved before
in the old days not thinking about it
most of the time while we lived there those carved
heads at the corners of high roofs the domes
shining beyond them did any of us
know there were overhead all the time
who was it we got to take the picture
of all of us with our backs to it
not seeing it who did we find to look
at us there in the narrow street waiting
for the flash no doubt a complete stranger
was that how we appeared to a stranger
was it visible then to a stranger
the great square just at the end of the street
behind us opening to tall facades
caught in the sunlight as in a shining cloud
and directly in line with us as we
stood there so that it seems to be rising
out of us the statue of those enormous
figures reaching upward the horse; hooves
climbing the air with mouths op en only
now do we seem them whoever they are