Stand still

David Wagoner, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 6  //  “It may be,” Wendell Berry opined, “that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” It used to be, when I reached such a place in my life, I would forge ahead. “Make a decision,” was the advice I followed, “Any decision. If the decision is wrong, make another, and keep making them until you get it right.” Now I’m learning the value of other advice. When you’re feeling lost, David Wagoner advises, “Stand still.” You’re not really lost. There is something of life – something deep within, though it often seems to come from afar – that knows where you are even if you don’t. Stop and listen for its whisper, like old Elijah in his cave (1 Kings 19:1-12).

“Lost,” by David Wagoner (b. 1926)

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

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