What Happened After
After reading the poem, “What happened after,” it becomes clear that the emotion gleaned from the tone of the poem is one of hollow sadness. While the reader cannot help but feel utter sympathy for the narrator, the reader has no idea why he or she feels this way. The author has crafted the poem in such a way as to convey meaning, rather than experience. This is perhaps the most essential feature that makes the poem transformative in its nature.
Examining the specific elements of the poem that capture this transformative aura, it becomes clear that the author’s use of the pronoun “it” is essential to developing the reader’s reaction to the poem. In the poem the author write, “The day it happened they found me/submerged in a quilt on the sofa watching t.v.” Even though the reader is intrigued about the specific “it” the true meaning of the poem cannot be found in the “it” but rather in the meaning that the “it” had for the narrator’s life. Clearly “it” has served as the basis for the narrator to view her life as different from those around her. She realizes that “it” has drawn her away from feeling as if she is alive: “wondering when I would feel the strength return to my bones, when I would rise from my bed and walk, feel the grass pushing up from the earth and the green coming back to where it had always lived in me.”
The use of the word “it” is identified as one of the key elements of the development of the poem by the author. She contends that: “Subsequent uses of the indefinite pronoun…continue to float, unanchored in experience.” What this implies is that while the creation of the poem has been spurred by “it” the actual “it” is not the message that the poet is attempting to convey. Rather, “it” serves as the basis for conveying the deep emotions that are produced as the result of unspeakable act; acts that can only be labeled by the indefinite pronoun it.