Ask Me

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I can’t tell a lie.  I am a total bibliophile.

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I was an English major and now a photographer, I worked in a bookstore for years, and I’ve always had a collectors mentality.  The last time I moved, I packed about 60 boxes of books.

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A personal favorite, really of any genre – fiction, poetry, history, art, photography, biography – is Listening to the River by Robert Adams.  Photographed around Colorado over the course of 7 years, the book is a series of incredible panoramas, but reads more as the most heartfelt, free-verse poetry.  And then the pictures are accompanied by poems written by William Stafford.

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This book was my first introduction to William Stafford too, a poet I’ve come to love.  There is one poem in the book in particular which is really one of my favorite pieces of writing.

31

 ASK ME

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made.  Ask me whether
what I have done is my life.  Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt:  ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait.  We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

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I’ve come to this poem time and again, especially at times of transition or upheaval.  I read it at my father’s funeral.

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So simple and so beautiful, and such a lovely metaphor of movement and stillness, and life constantly in flux.

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