When I dream at night, they save a place for me

Two from William Stafford (1914-1993), whose work often makes me want to go outside.

“Remembering Mountain Men”

I put my foot in cold water
and hold it there: early mornings
they had to wade through broken ice
to find the traps in the deep channel
with their hands, drag up the chains and
the drowned beaver. The slow current
of the life below tugs at me all day.
When I dream at night, they save a place for me,
no matter how small, somewhere by the fire.

Yosemite, Summer 2009

“Ask Me”

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

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One thought on “When I dream at night, they save a place for me

  1. April 1980 was my first visit to Yosemite; this same photo should be in some place with my old albums. I stood on one of these rocks and asked the river: Where will be my next trip as it reminded me exactly with my childhood of the rivers and mountains of Damascus. I also hated throwing stones like others as I’m hurting nature even though the splash used to be amazing, a natural musical tone.

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