At the Bomb Testing Site

At noon in the desert a panting lizard
waited for history, its elbows tense,
watching the curve of a particular road
as if something might happen.

It was looking at something farther off
than people could see, an important scene
acted in stone for little selves
at the flute end of consequences.

There was just a continent without much on it
under a sky that never cared less.
Ready for a change, the elbows waited.
The hands gripped hard on the desert.

— William Stafford

William Stafford  at Camp 36, Civilian Public Service.
Source: Lewis and Clark Digital Collection, Special Collections, William Stafford Archives

American poet William Stafford, a pacifist, was drafted during World War II. He declared himself a conscientious objector and served in the Civilian Public Service (CPS) instead of joining the military. His memoir of his time in the CPS, Down In My Heart, was published by the Church of the Brethren.

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