Thursday, October 29, 2009

Poetry Break - "A Ritual to Read to Each Other"

As I struggle through this last new story of the semester, I thought some inspiration might be in order. So here is a poem that I love. Every week before poetry workshop, Dr. Fisher would have us read this aloud, like a sort of prayer. It inspired me then as it does now. Plus looking it up to add to my blog, I got to read/re-read the poems around it. It's a good afternoon for some William Stafford.

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give - yes or no, or maybe -
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

William Stafford. The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. Graywolf Press, 1998.

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