letter to William Stafford
How long’s it been? Sorry I missed you last time around. Suppose you’re still writing there, just like you always do, granddaughter or not nibbling at your toes, adoring you, eating your attention just like pie. Funny how she stole herself into the early dawn, you in your writing time, suddenly then less alone. But you never said stop, dissuading her bloom, but just awoke some earlier yourself to keep coin with your words. Poetic, one might say, how you hold a hand. Yea, just like you.
There was this dream, did I tell you Bill, and I was that grandchild you see. And I drank up every word you ever said to me. And your hands, your hands, oh I remember them, how they held the very air itself. Then clear as a feather rings in flight, there you were, shovel in hand and standing right beside where a ditch was waiting to be dug and I knew, no matter at all, if that’s what you did, how you lived your life, that’s the book I wanted to know. And now everything I read of yours takes its’ sound, reads from that first pantomime.
Quietly, in the middle of dark, things can recognize themselves, can’t they Bill?
Like a sunlit day would never expect. That night shrouded light in a barn visible by only a solitary traveler, bright inside. And you’re right, if we’re not listening we can lose our feet, like it was another randomized flock of sheep. Yet one moment can fill everything without needing to change a thing.
It’s just like you said.
Yours sincerely, my blue pen
PS. You saved someone once. Maybe me. But you didn’t know, so it’s not your fault. Neither the poems now. Not your fault, no more than the man left standing who missed his train.
Then sometimes seems we’ve missed a life – when it’s only about to arrive. We’ll call it a nudge rightly imbued. See, new shoes! And thanks.
neil reid © november 2011
Written for We Write Poems prompt #81 Dear (poem)
Write a letter. Write a poem-letter to be specific. Address it to some historic figure you’d like to send a letter. Formal or personal, that’s your choice; you can be “the best of friends” or “respectful strangers”, howsoever you desire. Read the poem responses of others here.
William Stafford was an American poet (1914-1993). While his poems were not the first I ever read, they were the first I ever cared about, and came into sight just when I first seriously took upon myself this craft of language and expression. And to this day there is no poet whose words so well fit my ear.