One week and one conference later…
Today was my first day at my new job as coordinator for the Friends of the Homer Library. I spent the day learning about expectations and filing systems, programs and membership, dedication and community chocolate. After work, I met with a friend to talk about a project that will result in a marriage of poetry and place, one of my favorite types of relationships. Then I drove home in an early evening so blue that I could taste it, like a slip of ice against my tongue, and behind me the sunset was peach and red streamers on the horizon.
I confess, I’m happy.
Today is William Stafford’s 98th birthday. I confess that I wish he was still around to celebrate with us in person. I return to his poetry, to the wisdom of his philosophy of writing and teaching, again and again. Happy birthday, Bill.
Three poems by William Stafford:
You Reading This, Be Ready
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life –
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
A Story That Could Be True
If you were exchanged in the cradle and
your real mother died
without ever telling the story
then no one knows your name,
and somewhere in the world
your father is lost and needs you
but you are far away.
He can never find
how true you are, how ready.
When the great wind comes
and the robberies of the rain
you stand on the corner shivering.
The people who go by –
you wonder at their calm.
They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”—
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
“Maybe I’m a king.”
Where We Are
Fog in the morning here
will make some of the world far away
and the near only a hint. But rain
will feel its blind progress along the valley,
tapping to convert one boulder at a time
into a glistening fact. Daylight will
love what came.
Whatever fits will be welcome, whatever
steps back in the fog will disappear
and hardly exist. You hear the river
saying a prayer for all that’s gone.
Far over the valley there is an island
for everything left; and our own island
will drift there too, unless we hold on,
unless we tap this: “Friend,
are you there? Will you touch when
you pass, like the rain?”