By William Stafford

Its doors open near. It’s a shrine
by the road, its’s a flower in the parking lot
of The Pentagon, it says, “Look around,
listen, Feel the air.” It interrupts
international telephone lines with a tune.
When traffic lines jam, it gets out
and dances on the bridge. If great people
get distracted by fame they forget
this essential kind of breathing
and they did inside their gold shell.
When caravans cross deserts
it is the secret treasure hidden under the jewels.

Sometimes commanders take us over, and they
try to impose their whole universe,
How to succeed by daily calculation:
I can’t eat that bread.

William Stafford, “Poetry” from Even in Quiet Places. Copyright © 1996 by The Estate of William Stafford. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Confluence Press, www.confluencepress.com.