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William Stafford - Atavism

1
Sometimes in the open you look up
where birds go by, or just nothing,
and wait.  A dim feeling comes 
you were like this once, there was air,
and quiet; it was by a lake, or
maybe a river  you were alert
as an otter and were suddenly born
like the evening star into wide
still worlds like this one you have found
again, for a moment, in the open.


2
Something is being told in the woods:  aisles of
shadow lead away; a branch waves;
a pencil of sunlight slowly travels its
path.  A withheld presence almost
speaks, but then retreats, rustles
a patch of brush.  You can feel
the centuries ripple  generations
of wandering, discovering, being lost
and found, eating, dying, being born.
A walk through the forest strokes your fur,
the fur you no longer have.  And your gaze
down a forest aisle is a strange, long
plunge, dark eyes looking for home.
For delicious minutes you can feel your whiskers
wider than your mind, away out over everything.

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Poet: William Stafford
Poem: Atavism
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