For Lisa Busch and Davie Lubin
“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…
What the river says, that is what I say.”
from Ask Me by William Stafford
On the afternoon he died,
Bill Stafford wrote a note to his wife
on the back of a photograph.
He was at his desk,
feeling fine, his friends later said.
“I have always loved you.”
he wrote on the picture of her
taken some forty years before.
Then he lay down.
Dorothy poked into the berries
and the blades of the blender bit the spoon
spattering red pulp around the room
“Bill?… Bill?” she said “Can you come help me?”
But of course he couldn’t.
That this life is a collision of accidental blessings
makes it no less precious or determined.
We know the water rises from the oceans
is blown against the mountains
then drops down into streams but
remember, there is no sense in this
and none of the rules that come after
matter to those frantic, falling waters.
This is anarchy,
this blessing of rain.
This is what your love is
and what we are here to celebrate:
the lucky, unexpected meeting that somehow comes to ground.
So, this is what the river says:
Rain and rock, our souls
the voice of grasses on the bank
dipper and junco, each moment
filling the cup of right now
each kiss a small sip
mud and dying fish
bears and smolts
trout and bushes
enough pure sweetness in this life
to compensate for anything,
anything, including death.
And this, my dear friends, is what I say:
in this wet country love may not always be enough
it will fill everything left open.
~ John Straley