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The Layers

Stanley Kunitz wrote this lovely poem about life and the journey we take. I look back and I am tempted to see litter and not layers of good. It seems so much easier, at times, to see the past in this light. Something speaks to me from deep within me and reminds me to consider the good that happens. When I take time and place this at the forefront there is so much more energy given to live and know I am not done with the changes.

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.

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About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and spent the last 14 years teaching in an incrediable hybrid school setting. My dissertation topic and research were how teachers experience becoming who teachers, as human subjects. For me, teaching is a calling and vocation that allows me to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what will call me. We have begun a small consulting and leadership firm called Rocky River Leadership & Consulting Ltd.

11 responses »

  1. we are never done with our changes. There is always something or someone who will encourage us to change.

    Reply
  2. bless you for continuing to post such honest and inspiring poems and thoughts

    Reply
  3. Your life seeps through these words.

    Reply
  4. Beautiful poem, thanks so much!

    Reply
  5. Beautiful…thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Reply

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