Whether we’re hiking national parks or urban canyons, walking vast beaches or city boardwalks, looking up at the night sky unfiltered or through the haze of city lights, we can still breathe in the scent of a tree or slow down to hear a bird’s song––and all of these encounters with the natural world invite us into “this everything dance.”
Time for Serenity, Anyone?
by William Stafford
I like to live in the sound of water,
in the feel of mountain air. A sharp
reminder hits me: this world is still alive,
it stretches out there shivering toward its own
creation, and I’m part of it. Even my breathing
enters into this elaborate give-and-take,
this bowing to sun and moon, day or night,
winter, summer, storm, still–this tranquil
chaos that seem to be going somewhere.
This wilderness with a great peacefulness in it.
This motionless turmoil, this everything dance.
This week’s poem is part of a series by former US poet laureate and Oregon state poet laureate called the Methow River Poems. In 1992, the Forest Service asked Stafford if he would write poems that embodied the feeling of the place. Seven poems were selected and placed on porcelain plaques along the Methow River in north central Washington state, from Pateros to Winthrop, on the North Cascades National Scenic Highway. The full collection of poems Stafford composed for the project are published in his book titled Even in Quiet Places. This was Stafford’s last project. He died in 1993 at age 79.
There are a number of resources about the Methow River Poems, if you are interested in learning more. You can read all seven of the poems from the installation at “The Valley Around Us Is Deep” from the High Country News. Another article that includes some of the poems and more information on Stafford is “What the River Says: The Methow River Poem Plaques of William Stafford,” from Methow Arts.
Here is a map of the plaques that was originally published on the Friends of William Stafford site, now available at “Finding William Stafford,” at the Poetry Department blog.
If you’re visiting the area, you can contact the Methow Valley Ranger District for more information.
The featured photograph and the one above are both images of “this everything dance” that I captured on my annual visit to my parents at Priest Lake in Idaho.