Fall 1990, Volume 7.2
Poetry

WILLIAM STAFFORD

Not Marble Nor the Gilded Monuments . . .

Every wave proclaims, "I'm permanent,
I'm permanent"—every gasping wave.
They're perfect, though—then gone, helplessly
themselves, an architecture made of change.
This fascinates the gulls. Helplessly
they scream and pass, their wave. I write
them down. I write my wave, and the screaming wind
that passes, every fleeting part of the world.
I nail it down, hold it there and stare:
another grain of sand, another wave.

Looking Out

The river, touching its way along, counts
every willow and cottonwood tree to tell them all night
what they need to know when the sun commands their allegiance
again. We could go wade but stay near shore
and wave at the stars and feel that demand as the river
goes by. It happens at night, and we never know
that longing so real that it tingles. Sometimes I stand
by a window and feel the world go by and leave me
some river that I was to cross with my family and friends,
but we never found how to enter it or the way to stand
outside the glass for its wide accepting embrace.

Communion*

Inside Moorty's cupboard a picture of God
is waiting. You reach for the Post Toasties
and God watches you, even when you
retreat all the way to the table and bow
even if you close the door of course
you can't escape. Moorty knows that,
and you do too. Thank you, Moorty,
and thank you God—and for the Post Toasties.
At the table talk ranges—Australia,
life in England, following The Virgin
River. A woman from next door carries
her own wine in, already opened,
and pours it around in the beer mugs.
Everything begins to get sacred. I will remember
Moorty, and Australia, the bell in the short-wave
oven, and what is inside any cupboard.
30 July 1988

 

(*Note from the Editor: In the United States, as in India, most Hindu homes either have a separate altar room with pictures of the gods for worship or, lacking room, accommodate the pictures inside a section of the kitchen cupboard, which then serves as an altar for daily worship.)))