What If We Were Alone?
What if there weren’t any stars?
What if only the sun and the earth
circled alone in the sky? What if
no one ever found anything outside
this world right here? – No Galileo
could say, “Look – it is out there,
a hint of whether we are everything.”
Look out at the stars. Yes – cold
space. Yes, we are so distant that
the mind goes hollow to think it.
But something is out there. Whatever
out limits, we are led outward. We glimpse
company. Each glittering point of light
beckons: “There is something beyond.”
The moon rolls through the trees, rises
from them, and waits. In the river all
night a voice floats from rock
to sandbar, to log. What kind of listening
can follow quietly enough? We bow, and
the voice that falls through the rapids
calls all the rocks by their secret names.
“William Stafford” by Christopher Ritter, photographer – This image has been downloaded http://aroundthesunblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/staffordhandonface.jpg. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:William_Stafford.jpg#mediaviewer/File:William_Stafford.jpg
William Edgar Stafford (January 17, 1914 – August 28, 1993) was an American poet and pacifist, and the father of poet and essayistKim Stafford. He was appointed the twentieth Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1970.
Stafford was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, the oldest of three children in a highly literate family. During the Depression, his family moved from town to town in an effort to find work for his father. Stafford helped contribute to family income by delivering newspapers, working in sugar beet fields, raising vegetables, and working as an electrician’s apprentice.
He was drafted into the United States armed forces in 1941, while pursuing his master’s degree at the University of Kansas, but declared himself a conscientious objector. As a registered pacifist, he performed alternative service from 1942 to 1946 in the Civilian Public Service camps.
Stafford died of a heart attack in Lake Oswego, Oregon on August 28, 1993, having written a poem that morning containing the lines, “‘You don’t have to / prove anything,’ my mother said. ‘Just be ready / for what God sends.'” In 2008, the Stafford family gave William Stafford’s papers, including the 20,000 pages of his daily writing, to the Special Collections Department at Lewis & Clark College.
Coincidentally, I was born in Lake Oswego, Oregon.