Thursday, June 26, 2008

Having a Good Summer, Or...

What I Am Reading Now. EARLY MORNING: Remembering My Father, William Stafford,by Kim Stafford.

I truly love this book. It melts me, it makes the inside of my head tingle and shine. Kim Stafford writes of his father, "One time, after my father had read a stunning poem to start a program, someone in the audience spoke up: 'Do you want us to applaud,' she said, 'after you read a poem like that?'

'Applaud?" my father said. 'I want you to get down on the floor and grovel.' Everyone laughed."

I laughed. But I also want to get down on the floor and grovel. I love this man. Having been lucky enough to have attended a poetry workshop offered several years ago at BYU, in which both William Stafford and Leslie Norris were presenters, I now have their marks of comment or approval on all of the poems I submitted.

In the last month of his life, in the early morning of August 6, 1993, which was the anniversary of the day the U.S. bombed Hiroshima, Stafford (the quiet peacemaker) wrote this:


From the sky in the form of snow
comes the great forgiveness.
Rain grown soft, the flakes descend
and rest; they nestle close, each one
arrived, welcomed, and then at home.

If the sky lets go some day and I'm
requested for such volunteering
toward so clean a message, I'll come.
The world goes on and while friends touch down
beside me, I too will come.

His son says that after one of his father's readings, someone in the audience shouted out, "I could have written that!"

"But you didn't." He replied, and waited for a beat of silence. "But you could write one of your own."

Well, not everybody could. But, you know, I think that writing poetry, understanding poetry, real poetry like Stafford wrote, is like writing in, and understanding another language. Either you can or you can't. Either you "get it" or you don't.

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's 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 times unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.
--William Stafford

There's a thread you follow. I don't want to ever let go of the thread.


Tammy said...

What a beautiful poem he wrote that day, like he knew. I love his humor too.

Your poem was also beautiful Joyce!

Kay said...

That is beautiful - all of it - your poem too. Thank you Joyce.

paisley said...

what beautiful remembrances and a good appetizer to someone like me... gonna have to get that book on my amazon list....

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Lest any of you think the last poem in this post was mine (well, I can't tell you how flattered I am), it is another of William STafford's. I must correct that right now!

January said...

Very nice post. Well said.

"Either you can or you can't. Either you "get it" or you don't."


Maureen said...

Joyce, thanks for this wonderful post -- if I had in my life ever been in the presence of William Stafford I would have gotten down on the ground and kissed where his shoes had just touched. Or groveled.
Depending on my mood.
In either case, it was great to find another Stafford fan. I know there are lots of those, but not many who comment on my blog. And no I don't think this post made you seem elitist. heh! ;-D