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.