by William Stafford, read by Garrison Keillor.

This poem has always had a peculiar feeling for me, because I first read it when I was younger than fifteen, and many years before I discovered William Stafford for myself.

Someone – probably my parents – gave me an anthology of poems when I was maybe thirteen or fourteen. I remember it had pictures too. I didn’t even take note of the poet’s name but I remember this poem.

Years later, out of college and trying to teach myself poetry using the thinking and reading that I’d been taught to do, I found William Stafford again and learned his name. I was at one of the last readings that he gave, in the summer of his death.

But this poem – Fifteen – has never fit in my mind along with all the others Stafford wrote. Because it alone belonged to that other time; another life, before I turned fifteen.

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