Tuesday, June 23, 2015

William Stafford: "How to Regain Your Soul"

Come down Canyon Creek trail on a summer afternoon
that one place where the valley floor opens out. You will see
the white butterflies. Because of the way shadows
come off those vertical rocks in the west, there are
shafts of sunlight hitting the river and a deep
long purple gorge straight ahead. Put down your pack.

Above, air sighs the pines. It was this way
when Rome was clanging, when Troy was being built,
when campfires lighted caves. The white butterflies dance
by the thousands in the still sunshine. Suddenly, anything
could happen to you. Your soul pulls toward the canyon
and then shines back through the white wings to be you again.

"How to Regain Your Soul" by William Stafford, from The Darkness Around Us Is Deep: Selected Poems of William Stafford (Harper Perennial, 1994). Text as posted on The Writer's Almanac (05/26/14).

Art credit: "White Butterflies," photograph by Paul Kiler of PK Perfumes.

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