Archival Features, Archive, First Series, Poems

Light, and My Sudden Face

I am the man whose heart for
four days lost in a cave
beat when the water dripped:
I was found, and the water stopped,
never to start again.
Now even the cave is lost
where the lost, in order to hear,
held the whole breath of the earth.
In the night I strike a match,
one little glory, a flame
the world surrounds, a stutter
that leaps as the light goes out
and the trail to the cave begins:
impenetrably disguised as myself
I range the whole world in the dark
and hammer down doors with my heart.

William Stafford (January 17, 1914 – August 28, 1993) was the author of many books of poetry, including the National Book Award winning Traveling Through the Dark and The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems. His poems were among the first published in this magazine.

“Light, and My Sudden Face” was published in the Autumn 1965 issue of Poetry Northwest.

photo credit: Lit Match (license)