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Sunday, January 02, 2011

One Evening - a poem by William Stafford

On a frozen pond a mile north of Liberal
almost sixty years ago I skated wild circles
while a strange pale sun went down.

A scattering of dry brown reeds cluttered
the ice at one end of the pond, and a fitful
breeze ghosted little surface eddies of snow.

No house was in sight, no tree, only
the arched wide surface of the earth
holding the pond and me under the sky.

I would go home, confront all my years, the tangled
events to come, and never know more than I did
that evening waving my arms in the lemon-colored light.

-- William Stafford

Born Jan. 17, 1914, in Kansas, the much-beloved poet and pacifist William Stafford taught at Lewis & Clark College for 32 years. A longtime resident of Lake Oswego, he won the National Book Award in 1963 for "Traveling Through the Dark" and served as poet laureate of Oregon and the United States. He died in 1993. Throughout the month of January, the Friends of William Stafford sponsor many readings to celebrate Stafford's life. This year, two birthday celebrations are scheduled in the Portland metropolitan area Sunday, Jan. 9. At 2 p.m. in the auditorium of Beaverton City Library (12375 S.W. Fifth St., Beaverton), Ursula K. Le Guin and Molly Gloss will read; and at 7 p.m. at Stonehenge Studios (3508 S.W. Corbett Ave.), VOX: A Spoken Word Chorus will perform Stafford poems. Both events are free and will conclude with open mikes for audience members to read Stafford poems. For more information about Stafford Birthday Celebrations, contact Paulann Petersen at

"One Evening" appears in "The Way It Is" (Graywolf Press; 1998).

This poem and article from

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