William Stafford (Ph.D., University of Iowa) taught for many years at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He published several essay collections and more than thirty volumes of poetry, including Someday, Maybe (1973), Stories That Could be True: New and Collected Poems (1977), and Listening Deep (1984). One of America's foremost nature poets, he died in 1993 at the age of seventy-nine.
It is all big and shadowy. It holds everything
steady, and water will move on it and then
smooth out like glass. It alternates light
and dark in a slow rhythm.
Sometimes it hides under snow, or it glistens
in rain while wind hustles across it.
You can dig in it and burn on it and tear
it up—it will finally go back together.
It holds us. It will never let us
fall into space. But there are months when
it has a grim look and you can't
make it respond or let up or say anything.
I think it will last a long time.
It waits outside when we sleep, and it sighs
now and then, especially when you are sad
and lonely. For a while it is our home.