Hour 9: Dear William Stafford

Kind sir: I feel as if I know you, having
met your boy Kim, and your daughters
Kit and Barbara. I missed Bret, sad to say.
I know you missed him, too, with that feeling
of grief, as you put it, like snow in Wyoming.

Your Dorothy cheered me more than I could ever
tell you, but I know you could close your eyes
and see her smile. Helen, too, gave Kim such
encouragement to go on, without you and Bret.

Ah, what a group, what a tribe. And your poems,
so familiar to me now, but always fresh. I lean forward,
straining to hear what the river says, no matter how
often I read, “Sometime when the river is ice, ask me.”

Your elephants holding tails, your purification of the
language, the call you made to Kansas, years after
your folks were dead. Kim gives me your jacket
to wear, to cut the chill of Colorado Springs at 3 am.

We walk and talk about you, so recently dead, the
glass of milk you were drinking when the heart attack
hit. It might still be sitting on the counter, except there
was no time for that. You let it go. You let it all go

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