by Stanley Kunitz
I have walked so 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 gather strengths to proceed on my journey
I see the milestones dwindling toward the horizon
And the slow fires trailing from the abandoned campsites
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, exalting somewhat with my wings 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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