The Layers

I was listening to a great line-up of readings by New England poets recently. It’s very moving to listen to poetry being read by the poet them self, or someone who loves their poem. Poetry can be so left-brained. But, when the poet reads it, there’s a vibration and vulnerability that melts me. So beautiful.

The Layers

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

Here’s some of my own layers on a recent painting.



38 thoughts on “The Layers

  1. Your artwork is mesmerizing. I get lost in the brush strokes, colors and the way my eye moves around your images. Very beautiful containing both sadness and beauty. That is my perception anyway. Thank you for sharing.

  2. sensational post! Line by line, as I read, they echo & resonate completely. Almost as if he saw my life. fascinating. Your painting is stunning; it goes beyond surface pretty. Delving into the work, I love – the marks, streaks, gouges, scars, all the layers made visible. So lovely – so well done 🙂

  3. I love the lines “I have made myself a tribe out of my true affections, and my tribe is scattered!”. It’s probably something we all do, beginning as soon as we prepare to leave to bosom of our immediate family and continuing through our lives. I like the artwork too, lots of layers, and the partially obliterated text makes me think of palimpsests, rich in layers of mystery. Good stuff.

    1. Back in a minute: I’m going to look up palimpsests. “…a piece of writing which the original writing has been effaced to make room for the later writing but of which only traces remain…” What an awesome word. I think that about sums up all of my artwork. And the heart of that poem. And my life. Maybe all of our layered friendships and lives. Palimpsests.

      1. Richly LAYERED material it is too. Creativity, ageing, layers and light. Yeah!
        Would love to see you over at my age-related musings. Last Friday was ‘Middle-aged Crazy Art Lady’. This Friday: a Creative Ageing post with a truly weird title!

  4. Thank you for the Like. I just read the poetry and pictures. I have not seen another post like this. I would like to use The Layers on a special edition of Bloggers GPS with your name of course. Would you like that? E-mail me at or simply in your own comments section after this. Charles Rogers

      1. Great, I am going to figure out how to do it It may partly be a link to you site which the reader woul dclick open. That worked on Blogger’s GPS Experiment #1.
        When it comes up you can e-mail with your approval/ disapproval.

  5. Just read the Kunitz poem and looked around to see if he was sitting beside me. The poem is so close to my last several years and captures both the sense of loss and the pure determination to keep going. The last line will stay with me always. Your art is so lovely and provocative. The words and the pictures work together beautifully.
    Molly in San Diego

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