has a home
from which it has come
and a door
through which it is going
out into the world
to make another home.
from The Winter of Listening
River Flow, New and Selected Poems
My father could hear a little animal step,
or a moth in the dark against the screen,
and every far sound called the listening out
into places where the rest of us had never been.
More spoke to him from the soft wild night
than came to our porch for us on the wind;
we would watch him look up and his face go keen
till the walls of the world flared, widened.
My father heard so much that we still stand
inviting the quiet by turning the face,
waiting for a time when something in the night
will touch us too from that other place.
The Way It Is
William Stafford’s Listening is open on my desk – one of my all-time favourite poems – ‘waiting for a time when something in the night / will touch us too from that other place.’ This man’s humanity and sensitivity are boundless.
Often I reflect on the quality of listening that is touched upon here. The quality of my life tilts towards good when I allow space for listening deeply, before food, before prayer, before work, rest and play.
So I’m especially delighted today to find a William Stafford musing I’ve not read before, on writing a poem:
Writing it was like getting a lock on a feeling
and just letting the feeling lead me from one
part to the next.
Poetry leads us somewhere.