Ask Me by William Stafford

Frozen Columbia River: 1929
Frozen Columbia River: 1929

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made.  Ask me whether
what I have done is my life.  Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait.  We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

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26 Comments on “Ask Me by William Stafford

  1. I have the biggest broadest smile possible on my face right now. And ’tis your words and ideas that do it … 🙂

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  2. “ask me what difference
    their strongest love or hate has made”
    Like the ice on the river… there, then gone… as the seasons turn.

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  3. Last year the libraries here in Oregon celebrated his work. Or was it the year before…… life moves so fast in the wheat fields.

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  4. I am curious about your title on this one. It is probably just coincidence, but I have a friend named William Stafford, and one of my favorite Will stories involves a river, and ice. Your prose is excellent, as always.

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  5. My absolute favorite poem by one of my poetic heroes, William Stafford. The one that made me want to be a poet.

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  6. a punk group from the 80s I like is called “Lost Cheerees” Not that you would like them, but your poem reminded me of them.

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  7. Makes me think of the tide currents while sailing as they either are with you or against, can’t see them but they’re there.

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