Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

The Well Rising :: Poem by William E. Stafford — April 6, 2022

The Well Rising :: Poem by William E. Stafford

The Well Rising

 
The well rising without sound,
the spring on a hillside,
the plowshare brimming through deep ground
everywhere in the field—
 
The sharp swallows in their swerve
flaring and hesitating
hunting for the final curve
coming closer and closer—
 
The swallow heart from wingbeat to wingbeat
counseling decision, decision:
thunderous examples. I place my feet
with care in such a world.
 

For a biography of William E. Stafford, please visit Poetry Foundation.
“The Well Rising” copyright 1960, 1998 the Estate of William Stafford. Reprinted from The Way It Is with the permission of Graywolf Press

Source: The Darkness Round Us Is Deep (HarperPerennial, 1993)
 
Featured image attribution: Edith Johnson from Pixabay
Winter Visit — February 6, 2019

Winter Visit

We went to bed Monday night with the weather report buzzing in our ears. Because we’re retired, the buzzing didn’t keep us awake. We had no place to go Tuesday morning so the status of schools and the thickness of ice on the roads didn’t apply.

I didn’t expect any evidence of a winter visit Tuesday morning. But as I looked at some of my favorite firs and cedars, it was as if someone had splashed drops of white snow randomly on their branches. You can see above the remains of Tuesday’s snow.

As clearly as if someone was speaking, I remembered the first lines of Mary Oliver’s poem, White Eyes:

White-Eyes

In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
             where the wind-bird
with its white eyes
    shoves and pushes
         among the branches.
             Like any of us
he wants to go to sleep,
    but he’s restless—
         he has an idea,
             and slowly it unfolds
from under his beating wings
    as long as he stays awake.
         But his big, round music, after all,
             is too breathy to last.
So, it’s over.
    In the pine-crown
         he makes his nest,
             he’s done all he can.
I don’t know the name of this bird,
    I only imagine his glittering beak
         tucked in a white wing
             while the clouds—
which he has summoned
    from the north—
         which he has taught
             to be mild, and silent—
thicken, and begin to fall
    into the world below
         like stars, or the feathers
               of some unimaginable bird
that loves us,
    that is asleep now, and silent—
         that has turned itself
             into snow.