“The gods come afterward.”—Roberto Calasso
After the birth, borne in bright blood,
After the floods, drowned levees of childhood,
With tantrums and other new words.
After the first searing love,
After the wetness above, below.
After the lava of divorce, the hardened heart.
After the fingers grow tight, knuckles like acorns,
After words lie uncertain on the tongue,
After even dyes do not disguise the dying.
After the winter fever, spring cough,
After malignant heat grown interstitial,
After the diagnoses, the promise, the threat,
Then the gods come.
Jane Yolen is the author of over 370 published books including 10 books of poetry for adults. She has won two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, the Jewish Book Award, the Kerlan Award, the Catholic Library’s Regina Medal, a nomination for the National Book Award, as well as six honorary doctorates. She was the first writer to win a New England Public Radio’s Arts & Humanities Award. Despite her many awards, she has this warning: Don’t go chasing fame. Just write. One of her awards set her good coat on fire.