>>> Elaine Limbaugh <[log in to unmask]> 6/20/2007 2:18 PM >>>
Here is Stafford's poem
Far as the night goes, brittle as the stars,
the icy plain pours, a wolf wind over it,
till white in the south plunge peaks with their cold names,
curled like wreaths of stone with blizzaard plumes.
in the highway shed at Greybull the workers pause
and hear that wind biting their fences down,
scouring the land, as in early days the Sioux
with winter riding their backs in the folds of their robes
fled the White Father toward the Bitter Roots.
Over the shaking grass a thousand miles
where Spanish Johnny sang to the man he killed,
Nebraska, stretching, touched a continent
trying from the rock of Quebec to Santa Fe
for a certain humble manner of meeting the days:
cedars repeated themselves over the scarred ground,
surrounding with patience the Archbishop's garden;
a badger dug a den wisely; down in Shimerda's
dugout a face turned toward mesas and some still town.
That land required some gesture: concilliation.
A steady look from a professor's house
made the space of American slide into view
to press against the cheekbones all its wind
that carved the land for miles, and in the wind
and old man was calling a language he barely knew,
calling for human help in the wide land, calling
"Te-each, te-each my Antonia"----
into all that silence and the judgment of the sky.
----William Stafford *West of Your City* (1960), in *Stories That Could
Be True: New and Collected Poems* (1977)
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