My thanks to William Stafford

Big sky of the Saskatchewan province of Canada

Big sky of the Saskatchewan province in Canada

Tonight I read through the poems I wrote on my trip to North Dakota and Saskatchewan during the summer of 2004. The poem below pays respect to William Stafford, a poet whose writings that I ate, breathed and fell asleep with during those six weeks. The 49th parallel is the border between the U.S. and Canada. My words echo his poem, “At the Un-National Monument Along the Canadian Border.” It has been almost nine years since I visited this overwhelming space, and it is far away from my home on the Atlantic Ocean, but I can return by walking down these lines of words.

Reading Stafford at the 49th Parallel

This is the voice I carry, lines to wrap round me,

when I float too close to borders of despair.

This is the voice whose hope carves days,

where no hatred ever strays,

and green breath fills my mouth with prayer.

Birds still pilot blue skies unbound

above yellow fields that heave, swell, rise.

Led by you – I bless anew – this pass-through ground

charted by pursuit, desire, waste and greed.

Left behind for young dreamers to seed.

7 thoughts on “My thanks to William Stafford

  1. I’ve crossed over that line but in a different spot. Coming from California along the Pacific Coast Highway up to grandma’s house in North Burnaby, BC.
    My cousin took me back up there about 7 years ago. Her mother came along and demanded that each of us buy the limit of her favourite gin at the border shop. She passed last year and no doubt my cousin inherited what she had not finished off. Her days of gin had faded significantly before that trip.


  2. There are those whose very name puts me into a state of mindfulness. William Stafford is one of those. His voice, his rhythms, his content, his inner silence spoken put me in the moment. Thank you for giving me this gift this morning.


  3. Pingback: Day 11 – DaPoRecMo: “The Way It Is,” by William Stafford | The Dad Poet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s