Friday’s Poetic Pause: “A Ritual To Read To Each Other” by William Stafford

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dike.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk;
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life gets lost in the dark.

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.

By William Stafford from “The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems


Have some poems you treasure that you’d like to share with fellow aid workers and do-gooders? Please send them my way at!


Related Posts

Friday’s Poetic Pause: “Song of the Builders” by Mary Oliver

Friday’s Poetic Pause: “The Place Where We Are Right” by Yehuda Amichai

How would you measure the strength of a partnership?

Friday’s Poetic Pause: “Give Us Our Peace” by Langston Hughes

An aid worker’s poetic journey

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *