Living In The Layers

Living In The Layers

Last week I made the trek to Elko, NV with a few of my pals. We attended the Cowboy Poetry & Music Festival. This was my second year of the experience…it was my friend’s thirteenth year of going. For me, the experience is inspiring, moving, simplistic, raw, and real. The performers and the attendees are as down to earth as people get. Authenticity runs like a river through their veins. The pace and the simplicity of days and the performances at the festival are refreshing and in many ways breathtaking. The best way I can describe the stories that are told through poem and song is that they invite us to live in the layers. To take the moments and the days and the years as they come…appreciating the beautiful markings they create along the way regardless of how painful or ugly the circumstances that created them might have been.

Reflection

On our long drive home I thought a lot about the lives of cowboys and ranchers and their families. I thought about their dedication to the land, their animals, and their lineage. These people truly live in the layers with courage and resolve and faith…they press through hard times and embrace good times. They remind me of where I came from and urged me to go back there even if it is only in memory alone. These five days in Elko tugged at my heartstrings giving rise to pride and honor for the life that I have lived so far. And, “I am not done with my 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.

Stanley Kunitz is the author of this poem. He wrote it in 1978 at the age of 73. He lived another 28 years and died in 2006 at the age of 101. Kunitz’s poetry won him wide acclaim. He was known for his deep insight and intensity. He was the New York State Poet Laureate from 1987 to 1989, and he continued to publish his works until the age of 100.

Stay true and be you —

Annie

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By |2019-02-06T14:06:38+00:00February 6th, 2019|Categories: Thoughts from the Barn|Tags: , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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