Audio: Hear John Updike read this poem, recorded in 2000. (0:51)
Also by John Updike:
Half Moon, Small Cloud (2006)
Male Voices, From Below (2005)
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.