Skip to main content

William Stafford


Beaver People

Autumn 1962 | Poetry

Beaver people are trying to figure out the good water.All winter they feel a dark deep toucharound their house. “Somewhere,” one says, “there isthe good water.” But another one, drowsing with a pawover the edge of the bunk, just says,“But [...]

The Way I Write

In the mornings I lie partly propped up the way Thomas Jefferson did when he slept at Monticello. Then I stop and Look away like Emily Dickinson when she was thinking about the carriage and the fly. When someone disturbs me I come back like Pascal f [...]

Wovoka’s Witness

1. THE people around me, they meet me. Often they will talk, and listen. They give regard, and I to them. A few can't respond. Their faces are dead. When these people meet me and fail, I am sorry for them. For them it is already the end of the world [...]

Pegleg Lookout

Those days, having the morning clouds, and with no one around, it was quiet on the lookout. For breakfast I ate animal crackers and milk in a blue bowl marked "World's Fair, 1939." Some of the figures looked like my mother. I saved those till last. [...]

Some of the Ways

"The soul was clean Thou gavest me." SCENES OF RAIN IN THE MOUNTAINS First, they show a lake, from right down by the water looking across, all gray, dark, with waves and millions of raindrops. Then they turn. The person to save you is there, crowded [...]

Living Statues

By the rules you stop in that pose fixed when the signal came. You watch their faces. Your hand flung out almost touches Anita's hand. If it's ever over and they don't move, the sun floats away, the moon sets in the tired branches of the elm. Down th [...]

The Sky

I like it with nothing. Is it what I was? What I will be? I look out there by the hour, so clear, so sure. I could smile, or frown—still nothing. Be my father, be my mother, great sleep of blue; reach far within me; open doors, find whatever is hid [...]