(European Eagle Owl, watercolor, Jane Kohut-Bartels, in a private collection)
William Stafford wrote poetry every day, including the day he died in 1993. When people asked him if he thought a particular poem of the day was weak, he would say “Then I will lower my standards.” I think this is good advice for any poet. Don’t doubt, reject but keep the flow going. We learn day by day.
The Darkness was deep
My father was too
And I craved any lamp
To get myself gone.
He wasn’t much with language,
But if I watched quietly
I could see a world
Shaping under his hands
As he carved, planed, sanded
Nothing much into something.
This was the beginning of poetry
Though I never knew it for half a century.
The quiet observation of things outside myself
That tumbled into stanzas
With peacock feathers and bird of paradise colors.
I wondered what world he was fermenting
With hands colored by wood stains,
Toughened with labor
Cracked with the mechanics of cold and old age.
He with his turnings, me with my words
Silently observing what each other was made of
What would come out of that darkness
And be led into the light.
Copyrighted, 2017 (poem for the day)