The Better Way to Go

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Life is an endless series of comings and goings. This poem showed itself while I was waiting to board a plane.

The Better Way to Go

One at a time, they come off the plane:
looking for someone, or arriving alone,
returning, or beginning. As they get off,
I wait to get on. Suddenly, it's not
just the 11:35 to Chicago. Now we're
immigrants leaving Europe. Or the
thousands filing in and out to see the
lost Buddhas of Cambodia. Or the box-
cars with no exit. They get off. I wait to
get on. It doesn't matter where we're go-
ing. I want to stop the old man shuffling.
He seems to carry a secret. It weighs him
down. It makes him search the floor for
the crack to the underworld he was told
would be here. We keep coming and going.
Born. Dying. In and out of life. Only no
one knows whether getting on or getting
off is the better way to go. The old man
pushes through. He's looking for his bag-
gage. Here's another with a limp in her
heart. It makes me want to stand and
hum the one true thing I know. And
what if I could sing it till it undresses
all our cries? Would anyone recognize
it, know it as their own? Would some
join in? I'm asked to board. To get on
with it. She looks at my passport to see
if it's me. As if to say, Are you you?
I think she understands.

A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, discuss a moment in public when you felt a kinship with the history of humanity .

For more poetry for the soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.