Today is William Stafford’s 99th birthday. Every poet has a poetry family, those writers from whom he or she descended, a literary lineage. I like to imagine that Bill is in my scribbling family, his wisdom revealing itself in small moments of my life like a postcard that slides out of a used book or a line that sounds like whisper from my heart while I watch the sun set the world on fire..
by William Stafford
It was all the clods at once become
precious; it was the barn, and the shed,
and the windmill, my hands, the crack
Arlie made in the axehandle: oh, let me stay here
humbly, forgotten, to rejoice in it all;
let the sun casually rise and set.
If I have not found the right place,
teach me, for somewhere inside, the clods are
vaulted mansions, lines through the barn sing
for the saints forever, the shed and the windmill
read so glorious the sun shudders like a gong.
Now I know why people worship, carry around
magic emblems, wake up talking dreams
they teach to their children: the world speaks.
The world speaks everything to us.
It is our only friend.