Light child, lightly (2)

bird-in-hand-kiss

I heard a bird congratulating itself
all day for being a jay.
Nobody cared. But it was glad
all over again, and said so, again

~ William Stafford, “News Every Day” from Passwords

 


Notes:

  • Poem: Thank you Karl @ Mindfulbalance.
  • Photo: wsj.com – Youssef Badawi – A bird seller getting close to the merchandise at al-Shaalan market in Damascus, Syria.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Sunday Morning

face,portrait,red,

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out – no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

~ William Stafford, “Yes,” The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems


Sources:

Saturday Morning

vizsla-dog-pet

Zeke nestles up tight, his back to my chest, resting his nose on his paws. My arm wraps around his sternum, his heart beats on my finger tips, low and slow. His brown eyes, Full, are On the window. His nose twitches, Bird.

The air offers no resistance to the morning rush of robins, sparrows and finches. Bird song floods the room.

Man and his bird dog. Domesticated, fattened calves, gorged on Comfort. Thousands of years of Evolution to arrive here, Now.

Roof, walls, comforter, bed, Warmth.

He drifts. His eyes, a mirrored pool of melancholia, flash back with longing to a time of his ancestors, running in the Hungarian woods flushing grouse – tails pointing to the drumming beat of wings.

A soft wind gust rattles the blinds. He turns from the window, looks up at me and sighs, as if to recite Stafford,

“Breathe on the world. Hold out your hands to it.”

~ DK


Notes:

  • Photograph: Cara Olinger with her Vizsla (via I Can’t Stop Reblogging)
  • Related Posts: Saturday Morning and Zeke Series
  • Posted inspired by Whiskey River share: “When one lives with birds one sees how the noise level of the birds keeps up with the noise level of the house, with the wind that begins to whisper and whistle across the sidings, with each notch up you turn the volume dial on your record player. It is the rumble and rasping of the inert things that provokes the vocalization of the animals; fish hum with the streams and birds chatter in the crackling of the windy forest. To live is to echo the vibrancy of things. To be, for material things, is to resonate. There is sound in things like there is warmth and cold in things, and things resonate like they irradiate their warmth or their cold.”  – Alfonso Lingis, The Community of Those Who Have Nothing in Common.

Protect those early mornings: A symposium with the self

handwriting-light

Kim Stafford’s father was the West Coast poet William Stafford, a man whose “rich beginnings” lay in the calm and quiet of his own sleeping house. Every morning for more than forty years, he would get up at 4 a.m., at least two hours before the rest of his family, and settle down to work. Stafford himself described his practice in terms of “just plain receptivity.”

When I write, I like to have an interval before me when I am not likely to be interrupted. For me, this usually means the early morning, before others are awake. I get pen and paper, take a glance out of the window (often it is dark out there), and wait. It is like fishing. But I do not wait very long, for there is always a nibble—and this is where receptivity comes in. To get started I will accept anything that occurs to me.

Years later, Kim Stafford wrote a memoir about his father entitled Early Morning. He described William’s steady practice as a “symposium with the self.” A particular day’s writing might include images from a recent dream, news of the family and the world at large—and a couple of poems. Often, these first drafts didn’t seem to amount to very much. Stafford himself said that they were “often so colorless, so apparently random, so homeless and unaccountable,” that most people wouldn’t have bothered to work with them. But by making time for them, by lending “faith and attention” to what he called those “waifs of thought,” a total of more than sixty books made their slow way into print.

“A good life is partly a matter of luck,” wrote William Stafford. “I can look for it and cherish its intervals. But I can’t control it.” Still, he could choose to set aside that time: to protect those early mornings. “To get up in the cold, then make a warm place, have paper, pen, books to hand, look out at the gleaming rain, shadows, the streetlight steadfast. You could stay awake all night, not give away those hours.”

~ Christian McEwen, World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down


Notes:

 

Some days I do this again and again

sunlight, sun

Now I carry those days
in a tiny box wherever I go.
I open the lid like this
and let the light glimpse
and then glance away.
There is a sigh
like my breath when I do this.
Some days I do this again and again.

~ William Stafford, closing strophe to “Remembering”


Credits: Poem – Memory’s Landcape. Photograph: catching light by karin.krn via eikadan

 

MMM*: Follow the thread

thread-blue

Lately, when people ask me what I’m doing, the most honest reply (manifest in my daily writing, prayer, meditation, contemplation & conversations) would be to say I am following my thread. It’s a reference to this small, spectacular poem by William Stafford that is taped to my bathroom mirror. Whatever our “thread” is – a question, an invitation, an awareness of what matters most – it always takes us home to ourselves, to our belonging in this world, to the Infinite Love that holds & keeps us. These days, I become aware that I can hold & follow my thread in a variety of places – washing dishes or buying groceries; in solitude or with others; in the city or the forest. Mostly, I admit, the key for me to following my thread is to slow down. Rushing makes me lose awareness of the thread I hold. As the work week begins, let’s consider together: How do I hold the thread that guides me?

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer


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.

~ William Stafford


Notes:

The Biggest Thing There Is

moon,photography,sky,blue,winter,Nebraska

INTERVIEWER:

There’s a sense of great space in your poems. Would you trace that to growing up in Kansas?

STAFFORD:

I sometimes have thought about that, yes. In our world at least half of the world was sky; that is the way I’ve sometimes phrased it to myself. I mean, there’s the land, but it isn’t as big as the sky. Someone told me a wonderful story about a woman who came out from Nebraska and wanted to see the Pacific Ocean. The motel person said, Yes, you can see it if you walk down to the end of the road. This visitor stood there a few moments on the beach, and then walked back, and the motel person said, What do you think of it? And she said, Well, it’s all right, but I can’t help but think it isn’t as big as I thought it would be. This was the Pacific Ocean! Well, she was from Nebraska, I know about that. That’s the biggest thing there is—the sky! It’s there, and it’s an abiding puzzle, presence, and invitation.

—William Stafford, from “The Art of Poetry No. 67,” The Paris Review (Winter 1993, No. 129)


Credits:


Maybe. Just Maybe.

king's throne

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.”

– William Stafford


Credits: (1) Quote-Thank you Whiskey River. (2) King’s Throne Chair Image

Related William Stafford Posts:

You Reading This, Be Ready

woman, face, portrait, eyes

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?

William Stafford  (The Way It Is)


Sources: Poem – Thank you WhiskeyRiver.  Photograph: Rangefinder

Lean Closer…

When It Comes

Any time. Now. The next minute.
Years from today. You lean forward
and wait. You relax, but you don’t forget.

Someone plans an elaborate party
with a banquet, dancing, even fireworks
when feasting is over. You look at them:

All those years when you searched the world
like a ferret, these never happened – your marriage,
your family, prayers, curses. Only dreams.

A vacuum has opened everywhere. Cities,
armies, those chairs ranked in the great
hall for the audience – there isn’t anyone.

Like a shutter the sky opens and closes
and the show is over. The next act
will deny that anything ever happened.

Your hand falls open. It is empty. It never
held a knife, a flower, gold,
or love, or now. Lean closer –

Listen to me: there isn’t any hand.

William Stafford

 

 

 


Thank you Whiskey River for sharing William Stafford poetry: The Answers Are Inside the Mountains

Thank you Anake Goodall for sharing Artist: Tanha, Iran

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