living in the layers

My experience with strict stay-at-home orders for the past eight months hasn’t been as difficult as I’d have thought. Each day moves quickly, bolstering my belief that time is an illusion.

I last left you in March with the information that my daughter, Aimee, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and since that announcement she’s been undergoing an aggressive treatment plan. In non-Covid times this would be challenging. Anyone currently navigating complex medical appointments deserves a merit badge.

I’ve learned a lot from being on the receiving end of friends with the gift of communicating compassion and support beyond anything I expected. Aimee is doing well, so it follows, as her mom, I am, too.

At different times in my life poetry has been important to me, and this poem, written by a favorite poet, Stanley Kunitz, is today’s offering. If he speaks to you, I’d love to hear.

If this isn’t for you today, you never know. Maybe another time.

The Layers

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 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.