Emily’s House in Amherst
Her voice for awhile held itself afloat
in this room. Curtains in her presence
represented all that could posses riches
and live so fully that there was no need to move.
Here by the window her eyes received
the world, round and still, round and still
all day till the slow surprise of the moon
topped the outer forest that fringed the horizon.
We have you, voice, in here. The world
it carries has no horizon. Curtains
descend when shadows and evening come
or when any word comes near your name.
Stafford – no matter the theme, topic, or image in his works – has a way with his pen of flattening the lines and the language. Flattening the language … in the sense of not drawing attention to itself. Excess is never present in his works. His writing, by design, is never loud. The languages flows evenly, quiet, deep, effective. Readers are encouraged or even forced – such an odd word to associate with Stafford, but true nonetheless – forced to participate. The words – while appearing tame – are camouflaged against the fierce backdrop of the self as universe. With most any Stafford poem, the reader must turn inward, and will always – always – arrive at some sort of truth or revelation … without having any idea of how the moment happened. His works are natural, impacting, mantra-like – though never simple.