On June 6, 2003, my last day of teaching in San Francisco, my colleague Robert Broecker brought this poem to me. He told me that it had been significant to him during transitions in his life. As I prepare for a large shift in my own life, I am posting this here to share with my friends and family. I hope you enjoy it.

 
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.