Being a Person

by William Stafford

Be a person here. Stand by the river, invoke
the owls. Invoke winter, then spring.
Let any season that wants to come here make its own
call. After that sound goes away, wait.

A slow bubble rises through the earth
and begins to include sky, stars, all space,
even the outracing, expanding thought.
Come back and hear the little sound again.

Suddenly this dream you are having matches
everyone’s dream, and the result is the world.
If a different call came there wouldn’t be any
world, or you, or the river, or the owls calling.

How you stand here is important. How you
listen for the next thing to happen. How you breathe. 


William Stafford (1914-1993) was an American writer, poet and pacifist. He was the Poet Laurate in 1970.

From Even in Quiet Places by William Stafford. Copyright © 1996 by the Estate of William Stafford. Reprinted by permission of Confluence Press.