ATAVISM - William Stafford Poems


Poems » william stafford » atavism

Sometimes in the open you look up
where birds go by, or just nothing,
and wait.  A dim feeling comes
you were like this once, there was air,
and quiet; it was by a lake, or
maybe a river  you were alert
as an otter and were suddenly born
like the evening star into wide
still worlds like this one you have found
again, for a moment, in the open.

Something is being told in the woods:  aisles of
shadow lead away; a branch waves;
a pencil of sunlight slowly travels its
path.  A withheld presence almost
speaks, but then retreats, rustles
a patch of brush.  You can feel
the centuries ripple  generations
of wandering, discovering, being lost
and found, eating, dying, being born.
A walk through the forest strokes your fur,
the fur you no longer have.  And your gaze
down a forest aisle is a strange, long
plunge, dark eyes looking for home.
For delicious minutes you can feel your whiskers
wider than your mind, away out over everything.