A Poem by Stanley Kunitz

The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.


2 thoughts on “A Poem by Stanley Kunitz

  1. Wendell A. Brown, aka. The Brown One Poet August 20, 2012 / 3:56 am

    Your post is such a grand pearl of wisdom from living and enjoing your life. Your heart always speaks the sincerity that is you! None are perfect but life as we continue shapes and reshapes us perfectly for the days to come, and also for the life that will one day embrace us in a longer lasting way. I always consider myself very blessed to be able to read words that lift a heart from a kindred spirit. We are never alone no matter how many friends pass, their love still embraces you from afar as they speak softly to your heart, saying continue to live, continue to love, continue to share, continue to embrace all that life is…continue to blossom into that always new and better you! Thanks for the blessing of your words this morning, my beloved sister and hugs and kisses to make you smile!

  2. Kimberley August 20, 2012 / 6:47 am

    I have always loved this poem. Nice to read it here this morning.

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