The Whole World.

In the beaver dam realm, we spy the quicksilver flash of wet fur, bright eyes. The ice there is thin, barely beginning its winter’s work. We cross the snow-shallow field, then head into the woods and cut down again where the swamp lies in the fold between two hillsides, ghostly in its black-water, dead tree beauty. Then up, up, up we trudge, the dogs eager. We find bootprints in the snow, a few drops of blood from a wounded prey, and then we’re back again to the dirt road. All day, the light seems like twilight, and then we pass through twilight and into the night, and still we’re awake, talking, circling back to the same old subjects. In the morning’s dark, I scrape ashes from the stove and carry out the hot bucket. My brother stands on the porch, watching his dog nose at my herb garden. The damp rushes at my face.

“Like Maine,” I say.

“Yeah,” my brother answers. “But it’s Vermont.”

Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you might be.


You will never be alone, you hear so deep a sound when autumn comes. Yellow pulls across the hills and thrums, or in the silence after lightning before it says its names — and then the clouds’ wide-mouthed apologies. You were aimed from birth: you will never be alone. Rain will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon, long aisles — you never heard so deep a sound, moss on rock, and years. You turn your head — that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone. The whole wide world pours down.

— William Stafford

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