The Way I Write

In the mornings I lie partly propped up the way Thomas Jefferson did when he slept at Monticello. Then I stop and look away like Emily Dickinson when she was thinking about the carriage and the fly.

When someone disturbs me I come back like Pascal from those infinite spaces, but I don't have his great reassurances of math following along with me; so somehow the world around me is even scarier.

Besides, the world on fire of Saint Teresa surrounds me, and the wild faces Dante awakened on his descent through those dark forbidden caverns. But over my roof bends my own kind sky and the mouse-nibble sound of now.

The sky has waited a long time for this day. Trees have reached out, the river has scrambled to get where it is. And here I bring my little mind to the edge of the ocean and let it think.

My head lolls to one side as thoughts pour onto the page, important additions but immediately obsolete, like waves. The ocean and I have many pebbles to find and wash off and roll into shape.

"What happens to all these rocks?They become sand.And then?" My hand stops. Thomas Jefferson, Emily Dickinson, Pascal, Dante - they all pause too. The sky waits. I lean forward and write.

"The Way I Write," from the book "Passwords," by William Stafford. Copyright c. 1991 by William Stafford. Reprinted by permission of Harper Collins Publishers.

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