Although I usually write and read longer, paragraphed forms of writing, a good poem remains for me better than that first coffee in the morning, surpassing even that rich red warm glass of wine in the evening. A good poem awakens and lulls me. I carry it away.
On a social network site, a friend posted a note about William Stafford. Stafford first appealed to me in grad school; his writing clenches like a root, tenacious in the Great Plains and western American landscape. His voice also carries the honest tone of a friend confiding in another, as in, “Ask Me.”
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.