Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Message From the Wanderer

A Message from the Wanderer

Today outside your prison I stand
and rattle my walking stick:
Prisoners, listen;
you have relatives outside.
And there are thousands of ways
to escape.

Years ago I bent my skill to keep my
cell locked, had chains smuggled to me
in pies,
and shouted my plans to jailers;
but always new plans occured to me,
or the new heavy locks bent hinges off,
or some stupid jailer would forget
and leave the keys.

Inside, I dreamed of constellations—
those feeding creatures
outlined by stars,
their skeletons a darkness
between jewels,
heroes that exist only where
they are not.

Thus freedom always came nibbling
my thought,
just as—often, in light,
on the open hills—
you can pass an antelope and not know
and look back, and then—even before
you see— there is something wrong
about the grass.
And then you see.

That’s the way everything
in the world is waiting.

Now—these few more words,
and then I’m gone: Tell everyone
just to remember their names,
and remind others, later, when we
find each other. Tell the little ones
to cry and then go to sleep,
curled up where they can.
And if any of us get lost,
if any of us cannot come
all the way— remember:
there will come a time when
all we have said
and all we have hoped
will be all right.

There will be that form in the grass.

William Stafford

Posted over on Poetry Foundation

William Stafford, “A Message from the Wanderer” from The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems.

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