Sunday, December 02, 2007

Telling the Truth--and Listening Hard

Last night at the Garden of Lights, I got in a conversation with the friend of a friend with whom I always enjoy talking. In the course of a conversation that rambled amiably and casually through subjects of great intensity for both of us, he asked if I knew this poem. I did not, but came home to look it up. It resonates so deeply with me--making me think of recent posts as well as all the things I want to write about that stayed buried in my darkness.

"A Ritual To Read to Each Other"

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

--William Stafford
published in Every War Has Two Losers


Knitting Therapy said...

Moments such as these are so powerful in a life. It is so amazing that you two were so in tune at that exact moment and he was able to share something to touch you deeply.

Inky said...

I love this poem and had recently posted it on my blog - what a powerful statement it makes and so very true. thank you for posting it, i always enjoy reading it again :)


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