“The Way It Is” by William Stafford

This poem comes to me when I need it. Frankly, that’s pretty often. But that’s alright. It’s a short poem, quite portable. Could certainly fit inside my pocket, under my tongue, or in the flap between my eyes where I store the compass that steers me around.

William Stafford wrote all of his poems first thing in the morning, a time of day when I’m usually fast asleep. I wonder if there’s some magic in letting the gears in your mind churn when most people are letting their subconscious lugubriously ice skate over their deepest fears and desires. By this I mean, is there more inspiration to be had when fewer people are awake to sip from the inspiration pool? Or to pray by it, hoping it shows them a vision in the rippling water? Or to smash its surface and try to capture the noise in words? Could be something

Stafford wrote this poem in particular 26 days before he passed. Wonder where the thread he followed led him.
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.


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