There’s a thread you follow.  It goes among

things that change.  But it doesn’t change.

People wonder about what you are pursuing.

You have to explain about the thread.

But it is hard for others to see.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.

Tragedies happen; people get hurt

or die; and you suffer and get old.

Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.

You don’t ever let go of the the thread.

-William Stafford

These lines came to me today in a back to school letter.  Now, I am sure that the intention was for the “thread” to symbolize our reasons for teaching and dedication to the profession.  I can certainly perceive that in the poem and can of course apply it to my interpretation because there are many obstacles and challenges that teachers face all the time.  One must be dedicated to teach; it is a given.

However, I can’t help but also think that a more appropriate explanation for what the “thread” in the poem is, is really love – true love, unconditional love, unwavering love.  I believe that love can carry you through any tragedy or difficult situation.  It isn’t easy for others to always recognize it or understand it if they aren’t a part of it, and I feel those people are the ones to whom you might have to “explain about the thread.”  People who have never experienced this kind of love may not know how to handle the explanation, but I think that anyone who has ever known true love will understand.  

The thread is what gives you hope when to everyone else there appears to be none.  

The thread is what makes the pain hurt a little less and the joy heal a little more.  

But, then what about the people who don’t have a “thread” (whether the thread is a dedication to their career or true love or both)?  What happens then, with each tragedy and difficult situation when there is no thread?  How can those people get back on track when they don’t know where the track is?  What if you are still holding on to the thread, but it breaks?  Is it ever too late to spin a new thread?

What do you all think?  What is the “thread” in the poem to you?  Please share your thoughts.

~Melissa 🙂

4 thoughts on ““THE WAY IT IS”

  1. I like it! I feel like God’s using it to remind me that He’s my unchanging Thread and that as long as I’m holding on to Him I’ll never lose my way. And that nothing that anyone says can stop me from anything as long as I’m following him. 😀


  2. how quickly we forget: what poet (for stafford is surely that) can write of any thread without thinking first of the moirae: clotho who spins the thread of life, lachesis who measures it’s length, and old atropos who cuts it. or perhaps of ariadne whose thread was enough to help theseus escape the labyrinth of the minotaur and find his way back to her. threads (the hopi prophecy: there will be a thread across the sky…). isn’t it what we weave, warp and woof (whitman’s shuttlecock), or is it those frayed edges that wear with time and seem to dissipate in the kinds of forgetting that age requires (too many threads to keep track of): threads that bind and tie also unravel: what we sew together must often be maintained, repaired: that old tin my grandmother kept next to the sofa in her den, a pile of random half used spools of fading colors no longer vogue, some old socks that need darning, and the patience to weave them back into use…or the threads woven here into meaning: don’t we think in threads, strands we weave and braid into thick cables to bridge those spaces of not knowing?


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