Tuesday poem: Someone you trusted

by William Stafford

Someone you trusted has treated you bad.
Someone has used you to vent their ill temper.
Did you expect anything different?
Your work – better than some others’ – has languished
Neglected. Or a job you tried was too hard
And you failed. Maybe weather or bad luck
Spoiled what you did. That grudge, held against you
For years after you patched up, has flared
And you’ve lost a friend for a time. Things
At home aren’t so good; on the job your spirits
Have sunk. But just when the worst bears down
You find a pretty bubble in your soup at noon
And outside at work, a bird says, “Hi!”
Slowly the sun creeps along the floor,
It is coming your way. It touches your shoe.

William Stafford (1914 – 1993) was a poet’s poet, in that he was named more often than any other in 1986 when his peers were asked to identify America’s ten major living poets. He was also one of the most prolific: there are, it seems, about a thousand of his poems in print. I don’t know his work at all well but I have loved this example of it for years: it’s so precise and also so apparently relaxed about creating its effects, and I love the juxtaposition of images such as the bubble in the soup and your work being neglected, and the comforts of the physical world being so apparently simple and accessible.

The poem also reminds me of this Edward Hopper painting. It’s called “Sunlight in an Empty Room” and it’s a mesmerising encounter (I saw it in the Hopper retrospective in London a few years ago).

For more Tuesday poems go to the main hub site, where a poem is posted each week. Further poems can be found on the blogs of the Tuesday poet members in the sidebar.

2 Responses to “Tuesday poem: Someone you trusted”

  1. Leah McMenamin Says:

    Oh this is so lovely Belinda, I also especially love that line “a pretty bubble in your soup at noon”. I feel brighter after reading this. Thank you!

  2. admin Says:

    It has that effect on me, too!

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