Its door opens near. It’s a shrine
by the road, it’s a flower in the parking lot
of The Pentagon, it says, “Look around,
listen. Feel the air.” It interrupts
international telephone lines with a tune.
When traffic lines jam, it gets out
and dances on the bridge. If great people
get distracted by fame they forget
this essential kind of breathing
and they die inside their gold shell.
When caravans cross deserts
it is the secret treasure hidden under the jewels.
Sometimes commanders take us over, and they
try to impose their whole universe,
how to succeed by daily calculation:
I can’t eat that bread.
William Stafford, The Way It Is.
This is one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets.
William Stafford was also a conscientious objector.