Ask Me – by William Stafford

February 4, 2016

Many times sitting in silent meditation I have thought of a river and what it teaches about connection and interdependence. I imagine standing by the river’s edge, the water molecules at my feet touching only their closest neighbors, unable to see beyond the next few Angstroms, let alone clear to the other bank. And yet, without these molecules filling this side of the channel, the cross-river water could not exist.

The world is filled with unseen, infinite webs of connection. We may not see them, or we may cautiously trace a fragment of one or two. No matter. Let go and reach out to the “current, hidden”, the “comings and goings from miles away”. A mystery unveils itself in the second verse.

Craig Brandis

In 1992, shortly before his death,  William Stafford was commissioned by the State of Washington to provide seven poems to be installed on plaques alongside the Methow river, one of the most beautiful rivers in all of the Pacific Northwest. Ask Me was installed along the river in the town of Winthrop. I can go only so long in my life without reading it. It is one of my anchor and lifeline poems and it belongs along that river the same way Tibetan Buddhist paintings belong on the stone canyon walls of Nepal. 

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.

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