A certain heavy kind of wolf June 4, 2012Posted by Jenny in nature, poetry.
Tags: A Research Team in the Mountains, William Stafford
This is one of my favorite poems by William Stafford. After each stanza I have put a thought of my own in bracketed italics. I don’t agree with everything he says.
The Research Team in the Mountains
We have found a certain heavy kind of wolf.
Haven’t seen it, though—
just know it.
[I like the idea that there is a place in the mountains that has a wolf-shaped space in it, waiting for the actual wolf to arrive.]
Answers are just echoes, they say. But
a question travels before it comes back,
and that counts.
[The question and the answer together amount to a larger question.]
Did you know that here everything is free?
We’ve found days that wouldn’t allow a price
[I've visited Stafford's "here," but it was only in a dream.]
When a dirty river and a clean river
come together the result is—
[Yes, purity with one percent contamination is contaminated.]
If your policy is to be friends in the mountains
a rock falls on you: the only real friends—
you can’t help it.
[The mountains are neither my friends nor my enemies.]
Many go home having “conquered a mountain”—
they leave their names at the top in a jar
for snow to remember.
[Stafford doesn't realize that one can place one's name in the jar just for fun, with no notion of conquering.]
Looking out over the campfire at night
again this year I pick a storm for you,
again the first one.
[I would be privileged to receive a storm as a gift.]
We climbed Lostine and Hurricane and Chief Joseph canyons,
finally in every canyon the road ends.
Above that—storms of stone.
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