This semester is my advanced poetry workshop (having the word advanced in the class title makes it sound like I’m a lot more of poet than I am). My first assignment was to write a poem based off of William Stafford’s Ask Me (If you’re only going to read one poem please read the Stafford one), I had to use the first and last lines of the original poem as well as the same number of lines. I actually wrote two poems because the first time I wasn’t entirely clear on the details of the assignment but I kind of like them both. Attempt #1:

Ask Me
Some time when the leaves have turned to gold ask me
words that I have spoken. Ask me if I made promises
I could not keep. Circles have been run.
And steps have been retraced again
and again. I have traveled with the same people in the same directions:
ask whether they have helped me move on
or if I am still traversing the same spots.

I will listen to you without running.
You and I can watch the trees as they shed the summer.
We are sure that it is only a matter of time
before the green returns, green that cannot last
but is never truly gone. What is now will not be tomorrow
but may be next year.
What the leaves say, that is what I say.

And here is the poem that actually meets the requirements:

Ask Me
Some time when the river is ice ask me
words that I have spoken. Ask me if I told stories
that were not my own. Adventures have flown by,
some seized and some let go. Ask me
who I have taken along and who would not
venture with me, who has spurred me on
and who has tried to slow my journey.

We can talk together.
We can watch the still water
churning within, full of its own stories yet to tell.
It waits for spring to start again,
showing us how to move forward, refusing to settle
in any one place for long.
What the river says, that is what I say.

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