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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Stranger | Richard Shelton

Crafted by Tucson poet Richard Shelton, these words contain a core of truth for those of us who (maybe) spend (maybe) too much time feeling like outsiders, outlanders and outlaws.

do not be afraid
of the emptiness around you
If you remain here
your eyes will grow accustomed
to the desert light.
Then you will be able
to distinguish between seasons.
You will begin to see
the citizens of this country
and realize you are not alone.
As each sun rolls over you
on its journey west,
you will grow
quieter with listening
until you can hear the dry
whispers of scorpions,
and the mountains grinding
against one another with desire.
The cloudless sky
will send all shadows
to places of refuge, but you will
live on the head of a pin
where your needs are balanced
and night comes as a knife
so sharp you feel no pain
but there is a new scar
every morning.
If you give the scars a home
and cherish them,
you will become silent
and worthy of exile, and beautiful
beyond all witnessing.

From Selected Poems 1969-1981 by Richard Shelton, © 1982 Richard Shelton. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.

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