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The Way It Is by William Stafford

Posted on Feb 16, 2009 by

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A short poem about a thread that doesn’t change
Thread

I’ve liked the poet William Stafford, ever since I first came across a poem by him in some kind of anthology.  I think it was in junior high.  I used to read a lot of poetry then.  The poem in the anthology was, as best as I can remember it, his poem, Fifteen.  Recently I came across this poem, The Way It Is.  I love how it’s short.  And the clear central image of a thread.  Simple but not.

The poem begins:

There’s a thread you follow.  It goes among
things that change.  But it doesn’t change.

And then there’s the line further down:

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

An appealing idea I think.

This thread—it’s an image that could become a writing idea—or a thinking idea—or a sewing idea?—a painting idea?—a collage?—to begin with a thread—

What is the thread that doesn’t change?
How does one recognize it?
How does one hold it?