The Way It Is

William Stafford (1914-1993) wrote thousands of poems. Or maybe he discovered them, or brushed away the words that weren't right leaving the poem behind. He wrote this one on 2 Aug 1993, less than a month before he died.

The Way It Is

There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.

In the collection of Stafford's work The Way It Is that she edited, poet Naomi Shihab Nye sees and seizes him:

... An intense awareness of presence and absence permeates here. He embraced and saluted the process of working. He meandered, and valued the turns. He honored, while demystifying anything that rang of pomp. He dug in the ground. He picked things up and looked at them. He had so many frequent flier miles he could have started his own program. He answered people's letters diligently, often closing with "Adios."

He sent poems to people who asked for them. No magazine was too small for his consideration. He was marvelously funny, with a wry tip of wit, the folded poems coming out of one pocket, going back to the other. He left devotees in his wake but wouldn't have thought of them that way. He befriended the earth and its citizens most generously and attentively, at the same time remaining solitary in his countenance, intact, composed, mysterious, complete in his humble service. ...

... echoing Stafford himself.

(cf In My Journal (2005-01-29), William Stafford (2017-10-29), ...) - ^z - 2021-03-19