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Poems & Recordings

Poem accompanied on harp by Bethany Lee

I am the seedKim Stafford
00:00 / 03:18
Lessons from a TreeKim Stafford
00:00 / 02:39
Tove Jansson's IslandKim Stafford
00:00 / 04:13

         I Am the Seed


Every chance I get, any place I fit,

in a cleft of grit, in ravine or pit 

by ancient wit my husk I split—

            I am the seed.


I fell to the ground without a sound,

by rainfall drowned, by sunlight found,

by wonder crowned, by luck profound—

            I am the seed.


After fiery thief, after bout of grief,

though life is brief I sprout relief, 

with tiny leaf, beyond belief—

            I am the seed.


Up I rise to seek the prize

from all that dies, by bold surprise,

before your eyes, small and wise—

            I am the seed.


I am the seed, small as a bead.

Tell me your need. Your hunger I’ll feed—

any trouble you’re in, I will begin,

for I am the seed!

      Lessons from a Tree


Seed split. Root sprout. Bud leaf. 

Delve deep. Hold fast. Reach far.

Sway. Bow. Lean. Loom. 


Climb high. Stand tall. Last long.

Seed. Thicken. Billow. Shade.

Grain. Ring. Grow. Sow seed. 


Whine. Sing. Flicker. Glimmer.

Rise by pluck, child of luck,

lightning struck survivor.


Hollow. Glisten. Witness. Seed again. 

Remember. Testify. Thicken.

Burn. Bleed. Heal. Seed. Learn. 


Nest. Host. Guard. Honor. Savor. Seed again.

Fade. Groan. Sag. Crack. Split.

Soften. Slough. Grip. Gather. 


Then arc. Swish. Sail. Fall. Settle.

Log. Stump. Slump. Sag. 

Surrender. Offer. Enrich.


Be duff. Enough.

Love at the Butteville Store


Poem by Kim Stafford set as a song

by Gary Burman, and performed

by Pipedance.

Poem text.

Performance audio:

Love At The Butteville Store_Pipedance.m

     Tove Jansson’s Island


They say her father sculpted in bronze

and her mother designed postage stamps—

great forms and fine detail her first food.

Little hands silently lifting a burin

or mallet, getting the heft of creation.


Sun and pollen, ruby ants in a row,

her ears filled with the breath of waves,

her schooling a blur of breathless pleasures

far from anything countable. (No boy

could match a bird’s fine wit.)


When she was grown, a boat

would take her to the island without

landing, and she would leap into the sea 

to guide the crate of a summer’s simple 

food to shore, as the boat circled away.


No clock or voice, no growl of motor

or purr of phone, she would delve

into the bounty of her young silence

to hear songs she let go easy into wind, 

but dozing became dreams, dreams stories


old and odd and shapely, bristling

with thoughts more like pine cones

or glittering seams in bedrock

than anything anyone had ever

known—stories of summer light,


of star seeds concentric around hints,

stones hefted like sorrows, leaves watched

unfurling hour by hour, lit feather

optimists lifting away across the sea

in the general drift of hidden happiness.


When autumn came, the boat

      brought exile.

Then she wintered by city ways—

streetcar clang, wires across the sky,

the naked glory of creation dressed

in small decisions, minor laws.


But summer, summer, summer … story,

story, story … until old, she finished: hut

empty, pages topped by a stone the sea

shaped with its scarf of centuries.

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