After Us, By Joseph Brodsky

After us, it is certainly not the flood,

and not drought either. In all likelihood, the climate

in the Kingdom of Justice, with its four seasons, will

be temperate, so that a choleric, a melancholic,


a sanguinic, and a phlegmatic could rule by turns

three months each. From the standpoint of an encyclopedia,

that’s plenty. Although, no doubt, caprices

of atmospheric pressure or those of temperature

might confuse a reformer. Still, the god of commerce

only revels in a rising demand for tweeds,

English umbrellas, worsted topcoats. His most dreaded enemies

are darned stockings and patched-up trousers.


It would seem that the rain outside the window

advocated precisely this distinctly frugal

approach to the landscape--more generally to all creation.

But the Constitution doesn’t mention rain.


There’s not a single reference in the Constitution

to barometers or, for that matter, to anyone

who, perched on a stool, holding a ball of yarn,

like some muscular Alcibiades, passes the


night pouring over a fashion magazine’s dog-eared pages

in the anteroom of the Golden Age.

From “So Forth: Poems” by Joseph Brodsky (The Noonday Press: 132 pp., $12 paper)