An Oregon Message

When we first moved here, pulled   
the trees in around us, curled   
our backs to the wind, no one   
had ever hit the moon—no one.
Now our trees are safer than the stars,   
and only other people's neglect   
is our precious and abiding shell,
pierced by meteors, radar, and the telephone.

From our snug place we shout
religiously for attention, in order to hide:   
only silence or evasion will bring
dangerous notice, the hovering hawk
of the state, or the sudden quiet stare   
and fatal estimate of an alerted neighbor.

This message we smuggle out in   
its plain cover, to be opened   
quietly: Friends everywhere—
we are alive! Those moon rockets   
have missed millions of secret   
places! Best wishes.

Burn this.

William Stafford, “An Oregon Message” from Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems.  Copyright © 1987 by William Stafford. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.
Source: The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 1998)
More Poems by William E. Stafford