“How to Regain Your Soul” by William Stafford

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

“How to Regain Your Soul” by William Stafford from The Darkness Around Us is Deep. © Harper Perennial, 1994.

4 thoughts on ““How to Regain Your Soul” by William Stafford

    1. Hi Jaded, glad you felt this one. I know the tone has been a little darker and moodier around here recently. Stafford and Kinnell were my attempt at silver linings. Or white butterflies, as it were.

      Thinking about your note…if something is lost, it implies something can be found. Like the recent eclipse, maybe what we’ve lost is in the same place it always was, only obscured from view.

      Look beyond the shadows.
      ❤️, c

      Liked by 1 person

  1. strumsky

    You remind me why I love Mr. Stafford’s poems. You remind me why I follow you (like elephants in the dark, holding trunk to tails). You understand more than most. We understand each other in ways that count, in that deepest of physics. You’re not chiming in the dark, whatever you think… Listen, there’s an echo of thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your very kind comment reminds me why I love sharing poetry with others. “We understand each other in ways that count.” 🙂

      For it is important that awake people be awake,
      or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
      the signals we give – yes or no, or maybe—
      should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

      I don’t mind the darkness though. “A certain darkness is needed to see the stars,” said OSHO.

      Thank you again for your kind words… ❤ c-

      (I am) saying thank you and waving
      dark though it is


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