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The Lesson

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When young, it was the first fall from love.
It broke me open the way lightning splits a tree.
Then, years later, cancer broke me further.
This time, it broke me wider the way a flood
carves the banks of a narrow stream.
Then, having to leave a twenty-year marriage.
This broke me the way wind shatters glass.
Then, in Africa, it was the anonymous face
of a schoolboy beginning his life.
This broke me yet again. But this
was like hot water melting soap.

Each time I tried to close
what had been opened.
It was a reflex, natural enough.
But the lesson was, of course, the other way--
in never closing again.

A Question to Walk With: Begin to describe a significant crack in your heart and what it has taught you.

Next month, Sounds True is publishing a major collection of my poetry, The Way Under the Way, which contains three separate books of poetry, gathering 217 poems retrieved and shaped over the past twenty years. These poems span my life's journey and they center on the place of true meeting that is always near, where we chance to discover our shared humanity and common thread of Spirit. The above poem is from the book.

For more poetry for the soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.