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First It was a woman with auburn hair
whose head would moan when I'd kiss her neck.
Then It was a game where despite the others
I would rise in the air and toss the ball
as if it were all that mattered of me
and I'd only feel complete when it
slipped the net, touching nothing,
just falling blissfully from the sky.
Then It was a solitude that overwhelmed
me, on a mountain, or lingering by a brook
longer than the others. Or talking for hours
till the words were strewn like clothes and
there was nothing to repeat. And then It was
Grandma wearing down to a precious set of bones
and I made pilgrimage to hear her secrets once
she could no longer speak. And when you went
into surgery, I fogged the sliding doors,
watching your stretcher grow smaller,
believing It was thinning there
between us. But now, I am rightfully
tired of the chase and It has changed,
as have I, from something outside of us
we reach for, to something that was deep
within all along. I've stopped asking
for things to emulate, have stopped pushing.
Some say I am getting old. Even so, I can't
find the words in stream or sky to make clear
what I've found. Just stay near long enough
and my eyes will tell and we will both
let down, unsure what to do next. This
is a sign. For It is here, in us as we
bend. Oh how this life unfolds, just
one concentric womb enroute to another,
each encompassing the last; the labor
before us, our tunnel to the future;
the film covering our eyes, torn
away slowly, as we form inwardly,
no longer able to pretend.

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, talk about one way you see now that you were blind to earlier in your life.

Sounds True recently published a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers 28 years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including 39 new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-30s. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what's in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you're being forged. "It" is an excerpt from the book.

For more poetry for the soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.