By 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
and following the wrong god home we may miss
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
storming out to play through the broken dike.
And as elephants parade holding each
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the
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
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
From Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems. Used with kind permission of
The only way down is down, leaving the light for the dark, allowing the surface…
Like King David, they have drunk the wine of astonishment. Mouths open wide, they lean…
Starting here, what do you want to remember? How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?…
This site is brought to you by A Network for Grateful Living, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. All donations are fully tax deductible in the U.S.A.
© 2000 - 2017, A Network for Grateful Living