The twentieth poet laureate of the United States, William Stafford, held that position from 1970 to 1971. Twenty years earlier, his poem “Immolation” had been published in the Winter 1950 edition of Prairie Schooner. The first snowfall in Lincoln that year occurred on November 8th and culminated in a total of 19.9 inches of snow for the season; the average winter temperature was a moderately balmy 25.8°F. 

by Tory Clower



William Stafford

The murder was accomplished
Quietly the morning-glory eyes
     were lidded.
Weakly, with suffocation,
     the bird-answering voice gave up the ghost.

Two curls by warm temples
     were witnesses of the slow strangulation.
Innumerable drinkers of tea nodded with
Enthusiasm at the impeccable
     assassination of the years.

The dismayed daughter—
     frightenedly smiling—
Left yesterday
     for a conservative graduate school
     her mother.