When The Tortured Poets Department was imminent, Taylor Swift dropped a week’s worth of clues on Apple Music, deciphered by fans each day. When the full message became clear, it read, “We hereby conduct this postmortem,” leaving Swifities with more questions than answers. The phrase has since appeared in the TTPD track “How Did It End,” and listeners want to know more about the lyrics and song meaning.

Taylor Swift’s ‘How Did It End’ Lyrics

The songstress opens the heartbreaking track with the very phrase she teased fans with before TTPD dropped. “We hereby conduct this postmortem,” she sings, “He was a hot house flower to my outdoorsmen/Our maladies was such we could not cure them.”

Taylor proceeds to paint a picture of a romance that was kept behind closed doors, telling no one of its ins and outs except friends. Asking herself, “How did it end?” she riddles an answer.

“We were blind to unforeseen circumstances/We learn the right steps to differеnt dances/And fell victim to interlopеr’s glances/Lost the game of chance, what are the chances?” Taylor surmises, before adding, “Soon, they’ll go home to their husbands/Smug ’cause they know they can trust him/Then feverishly calling their cousins.”

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The mastermind behind TTPD continues on in the track, lamenting that she was “lost” and “walking in circles” while in a relationship that was crumbling.

“They called it all off,” she sings, before adding, “One gasp and then, how did it end?”

By the time she gets to the heartbreaking bridge, Taylor realizes in the song just how crushing the romance’s end truly is, singing, “How the death rattle breathing/Silenced as the soul was leaving/The deflation of our dreaming/Leaving me bereft and reeling/My beloved ghost and me/Sitting in a tree dying.”

“I can’t pretend like I understand,” she ponders as the track concludes, “How did it end?”

Who Is Taylor Swift’s ‘How Did It End’ About?

As guessed in response to a number of tracks off of TTPD, many listeners believe that “How Did It End” is about Joe Alwyn. Taylor and Joe were in a relationship for six years before their split, and the allusions to marriage and future plans that crumbled are heavily featured throughout the double album anthology.

Joe has not publicly responded to Taylor’s album as of publication, but a source close to him did tell The Daily Mail ahead of its release that the actor would not be engaging with his ex’s material.

“Joe has not said one word about Taylor or their breakup and has been completely respectful of her. It’s undeniable that the name of her upcoming album is in reference to Joe’s WhatsApp group chat [Tortured Man Club],” the source said at the time. “Taylor knocked him for the name of this when they were together. She didn’t want people to think that it had anything to do with her, so when he spoke out about it, she was, of course, bothered.”

The insider continued, “She writes about her past using code and points of reference. It may just be that she is reflecting on their time together, and he is hoping it is nothing more. If it is a diss album, that is shady. … It will really come as a shock to him if she talks about their breakup, as it is something he has not spoken of at all. Regardless of what she does, he will still not respond because he has removed himself from her narrative and is very glad he did.”