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.

26 Comments on “Ask Me by William Stafford

  1. 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.


  2. 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.


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


  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.


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


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


  7. 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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