Thursday, December 22, 2011

To Find a Night Like This

Several months ago, I mentioned dreaming of William Stafford, who was sitting in an easy chair, reading a poem to me by lamplight. I found it very comforting and knew that the poem he read, one of my favorites, should be shared. It was titled, "A Ritual to Read to Each Other."  Well, for the past few days, I haven't been able to shake another poem by him that also feels like it should be shared. And so, here it is, for reasons that are not clear to me. Maybe you will know ...

"Once in the 40s"

We were alone one night on a long
road in Montana. This was in winter, a big
night, far to the stars. We had hitched,
my wife and I, and left our ride at
a crossing to go on. Tired and cold -- but
brave -- we trudged along. This, we said,
was our life, watched over, allowed to go
where we wanted. We said we'd come back some time
when we got rich. We'd leave the others and find
a night like this, whatever we had to give,
and no matter how far, to be so happy again.

~ William Stafford


  1. Such a beautiful poem. I wish I'd found it just an hour earlier, before I read this in the Houston Chronicle, about a family rescued on a New Mexico road.

    Now, I can't separate the story from the poem, and all I can think is, "When you leave the others to take your road and find your night - be prepared. Such happiness is fragile."

    But, my goodness - I do love the poem. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. What a wonderful photograph, it really arrested me.

    I had never read any of Stafford's work - I liked this poem very much and will look out for more now.

    Thanks for both these good things.

  3. A wonderful poem, Teresa, but I can't help wondering: Did they ever go back to that place and that moment where they were blissfully happy, being watched over by some presence, being free to allow their lives to move in any direction?

  4. shoreacres, For me, the beauty of poetry is that we see different things on different days, from different perspectives. I hope you will revisit it when that image has faded.

    Jenny, How nice to hear from you. You've been traveling! Isn't that a nice photo of him? I just had to include it. It seems to fit perfectly. He's an accessible poet, with some really fine ideas and images.

    George, I get a bit of melancholy from this for that very reason. I sense that they never were able to return to such a time, that life took them far away, but it remains a perfect moment in time, in memory. And sometimes, that's enough.

  5. A beautiful poem. A stirring moment that is captured forever in time by it. There is no going back, only being in the present, which is always changing. But memories are forever with us. Thank you, Teresa, for this.

  6. Oooh I liked this one! My husband and I had a similar experience. (not poetic tho):> We fell in love with the West and told each other that we'd someday move there. It never happened, but the thought of doing it, the memory of our dream, is still with me and still makes me happy. I visit my webcams daily and continue the dream. He is out west, that is where I took his ashes and I visit him as often as I can.

  7. About the question of whether they ever returned--I think sometimes we are given a gift, a glimpse of something so exquisitely perfect. We want to hang onto it or revisit it, but it's gone. If I were a Buddhist, I would say that clinging to it is the cause of suffering. To me, however, the gift is really two--the gift of the experience itself, and the gift of the memory of it.

  8. Teresa,
    Such a beautiful writing and it brings to mind how we often put things off; we say 'later' but what if later never comes? My husband I say we will buy a beach house 'later' when Nicholas goes to college or when we win the lottery...I wonder if we ever will.

  9. DJan, I think our memories can serve a very valuable function when seen in the right Light.

    TM, I sure hope you get back out west. I know how it moves through you still.... Thank you so much for telling me about this. I knew he had passed, but did not know you had taken his ashes are out there. Very nice.

    Galen Pearl, How true. It's often in the memory that it remains perfect. The world can bring us another experience, but never That one again.

    Tracy, I hope your beach house becomes reality soon. You have the ocean in you. :)

  10. Ah to be young and foolish and carefree again but the dreams linger and keep me going.

  11. Such sweet, sweet words. Although there was no need to return when they were rich. They already were. Rich with life and appreciation of the moment.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm going to look into other poems he wrote.

  12. Linda, I think there's something to being "young and foolish and carefree" in our minds. It keeps us open to all the possibilities. :)

    Bill, Absolutely. To be rich has nothing to do with one's bank account. I think you'll like what you find. He's so good.

  13. Teresa -- very touching poem -- a saver for me. Whatever your holiday tradition do look up at the far stars. I know I will. Best to you -- barbara

  14. Barbara, I'm glad you like the poem.

    I think my tradition is much like yours: to "look up at the far stars..."

  15. A treasured moment captured forever. The joy of just being...separate, together, and feeling a limitless connection to the far stars! Now that is richness beyond measure. Lovely, Teresa. This was lovely. :)

  16. Steve, Thanks for stopping. Merry Christmas to you and little Lily.

    Rita, It defines rich for me. I hope you can get somewhere to see those far stars soon!

  17. I love the way poems run through your mind the way songs to in mine. This poem is for the wanderer, the ones who are willing to leave all that they have and know behind and seek the adventure that makes their hearts' soar.
    Soar on to the new year!

  18. A tender posting and a wonderful poem, Teresa.

    I think that most of us try to recapture just such moments in our lives. We usually can't quite get there again, at least not in this lifetime, but, those memories stay so vivid, don't they, and give us that hope we need. To "go back and find a night like this".

  19. A nice thought but they could possibly never again capture the magic of that particular moment. Better to create new moments.

  20. Mary, Soaring into the new year. Nice thought. Thank you.

    Penny, I think it is about finding new moments that feel like that moment.

    Manzanita, They probably won't capture That moment, and I don't think the poet necessarily thinks so, either, but to capture
    that Feeling Is possible and desirable, in new moments. IMO.

  21. Even if the young couple in the poem didn't go back, I hope they remembered.

    Peace to you this season.

  22. Linda, I hope so, too. I have a feeling they did. Peace to you, as well. Have a beautiful Christmas Eve! It's my favorite time, too.

  23. In The Future We Will Swap Kindles....:(

  24. Tony, And on that day, I shall mourn... I suppose I should get with the program. :)

    A Brilliant Christmas to you, as well, good man. XX

  25. They knew they'd never come back because in that moment they recognized they were already rich.

    Merry Christmas and many blessings, T :)

  26. Beyond measure, Will.

    Happy Everything. :)