Poetry: John Updike, 'Rainbow'


Audio: Hear John Updike read this poem, recorded in 2000. (0:51)

Also by John Updike:
Doo-Wop (2007)
Half Moon, Small Cloud (2006)
Male Voices, From Below (2005)
TV (2003)

Recent fiction:
The Apparition (2007)
Varieties of Religious Experience (2002)
Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War (1998)

originally published November 2000

Short storms make the best rainbows--
twenty minutes of inky wet, and then,
on the rinsed atmosphere's curved edge,
struck by the re-emergent sun
in impermanent and glorious coinage,
mint-fresh from infra-violet to ultra-red,
gigantic, ethereal, rooted in the sea
seen through it, dying a bell-buoy green,

it has appeared. And when it fades, today,
it leaves behind on the bay's flat glaze
a strange confetti of itself, bright dots
of pure, rekindled color, neon-clear.
What are we seeing? Lobster-pot markers,
speckling the brine with polychrome.



John Updike (1932-2009) was the author of more than fifty books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including the collections Endpoint (2009), Americana (2001), and Collected Poems 1953-1993. His poems and light verse appeared frequently in the Atlantic for more than forty years.

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