“Evidence” by William Stafford:
First, this face—history did it,
winters, two world wars, long
days bent in the fields in the sun,
a few blows, fear, sorrow.
This face is evidence left over
when those years denied what happened
and stole away, the shell still whispering
of treasure and wreckage in the sea.
And then beyond this mask—that’s where
everything else begins to wake up:
what the wars were about, how the field boss
discovered a truth God had in mind.
There’s a bell somewhere. This face
looks up, the way old people listen.
(From The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems by William Stafford © 1998 by the Estate of William Stafford. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. Photo by Pawel Maryanov)