Sharehttps://www.terrain.org/mp3/2015/jul/Stafford_Lesson.mp3A Lesson in TimeWe stood on a forest road at the meadow’s edgeso Joe could teach the story of geologic time.Mateo set a little flag—red tatteron a rusted wire—to mark the miasmicgathering when earth first clenched dustby the stern affection we call gravity.In the meadow, grass wavered, and was still.Then Charles began to step off eonsthrough the Hadean Period, as low sunlit the pines gold. We arrived atthe Iron Catastrophe. Mateo set a flagand Ruby laid down a stem of grass.Under a sky made blue by oxygenbacteria had formed, once volcanismspewed steam from burnt stone, wemarched on. At each extinction, ornew creation, Mateo set a flagand Ruby placed her stem of grass,until Joe pulled two hairs frommy head to set in the dust. “The thicknessof these two strands,” he said, “we’ll callthe span of civilization.” Mateo set a flag,and Ruby placed a stem of grass. https://www.terrain.org/mp3/2015/jul/Stafford_DoYouNeed.mp3Do You Need Anything from the Mountain?Could you bring me a smudge of camas blue,and the whisper whistle of that one pineat the edge of the meadow at dusk, when daygives a lost, last breath? Bring me the roadthat becomes deep duff as it trails awayinto the forest, young firs ten feet tallalong the hump between the old ruts.Bring me a story you hear in dark silenceafter the last light, the gone that gathers dewin the fingers not to hold, carry away, butonly to feel. Bring me that skein of firethat hangs in intimate eternity, afterthe dark but before the thunder, whenthe bounty of yearning in one cloudreaches toward another, in each being’sendless, impossible desire to complete itselfbefore falling away. Kim Stafford is the founding director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College, where he has taught writing since 1979. He is the author of a dozen books of poetry and prose, including The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft and A Thousand Friends of Rain: New & Selected Poems. His most recent books are 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared, and Wind on the Waves: Stories from the Oregon Coast.Photo of wet leaf on forest road courtesy Shutterstock.