Thursday, February 05, 2009

Weather's great. Don't wish you were here.

William Stafford was one of those people who exuded serenity. One of those people who when you heard him start to speak, your shoulders left their place next to your ears and traveled back home. By all accounts he was kind and gentle and onto to some kind of portal to the self. He is one of those people I often find myself longing to meet, though he's been gone some 15 years.

One of Stafford's writing habits was to get up before anyone else in the house and write a poem, every day.

There is a video that was made with Stafford and Robert Bly called "A Literary Friendship" in which Stafford describes a period of time when his then-young daughter started getting up with him. Naturally, this defeated the purpose of getting up early for him. He solved the problem in a very Stafford kind of way - not by telling his daughter to go back to bed or by altering his routine, but by getting up earlier and earlier each day until he was up at something like 3 am and the child finally couldn't manage to join him.

Whenever I get up, Isaac's mama-radar goes off immediately and there he is next to me. Every time, every bloody time. I have a piece of poem in my head and there he is; I want a cup of tea in the dark fog to collect my thoughts, here's my baby; I have a revision nagging at me and think I'll get a jump start on the day's short work hours -- good luck to me with the King of Questions sidled up beside me.

Today, it was 5:45 am, and I couldn't sleep. All I wanted to get to was reading this article and I would have been satisfied. But somehow my quietly snoozing boy who'd been sound asleep since 7:30 pm last night after a tearfully napless afternoon was sitting on my lap before I could even make it to the website.

I am not William Stafford. Nor, you may have noticed, do I possess his infinite supply of patience and acceptance. And I'm just gonna take a wild guess here and say that patient healing soul or not, when that man got his ass up at 3 am, he didn't also have to make breakfast and haul his kid to school 4 hours later. I'm just going out on a limb here and say that his wife picked up the non-writerly slack in the family.

It has been one of those weeks. The kind when I want to send my family postcards from a lovely nook of country - very far away. The afternoons are too long and I guiltily find myself wondering if that new "Bob the Builder" DVD has come in at the library yet. It is the Only-Child week - the kind of week where I tell myself "See, this is what you get!" and my singleton dances on my every nerve, from atop his throne that happens to sit right at the center of the Universe.

It is a vicious circle I live with -- The more I need space, the more my son senses something and clings. Isaac is very similar to me emotionally. I understand his moods and his reactions and his needs - and they drive me batty. Some might call this pay back. Sometimes I call it part of the learning. But that's just the William Stafford in me talking.

Just Thinking

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.

No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held

for awhile. Some dove somewhere.

Been on probation most of my life. And

the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments

count for a lot--peace, you know.

Let the bucket of memory down into the well,

bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one

stirring, no plans. Just being there.

This is what the whole thing is about.

-- William Stafford

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