Lost, a poem by David Wagoner

David Wagoner, a prolific poet and novelist, was born in the midwest in 1926.  In 1954, he moved to the Pacific northwest and said that crossing the Cascades and coming down into a Pacific rainforest “was a big event for me, it was a real crossing of a threshold, a real change of consciousness. Nothing was ever the same again.”  He has taught at the University of Washington since that time.

He based his marvelous poem, “Lost” on teachings the northwest coast Indians gave their children on what to do if they ever got lost in the forest.

Lost

Stand still.  The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven,
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost.  Stand still.  The forest knows
Where you are.  You must let it find you.

From, Travelling Light, Collected and New Poems, 1999