Poetry: A Ritual to Read to Each Other

A Rit­u­al to Read to Each Other
–William Stafford

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.

From The Way It Is: New and Select­ed Poems

Cur­rent Mood: 🤔thought­ful
Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
Posts created 4259

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