“…how shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?” ~from “The Layers” by Stanley Kunitz
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The longer I live, the more I see the paradox of days. Some days at once a feast of delicious memory and the devastating reminder heartache, each swirled together into a thick sauce. I can sip it slowly if my nervous system is settled and safe.
This week of Valentine’s Day, as I practiced settling into myself, I reflected on love—layer upon layer of it, and I thought of Stanley Kunitz’s wonderful poem “The Layers,” as when he writes, “…how shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses…Live in the layers, not in the litter.” Living in the layers, reconciled to life’s feast of losses, has come to mean that I must believe in the possibility of miracles, new beginnings, transformations, love that never ends.
As I thought of this, I imagined the way that life and those I’ve loved have layered into me. Much the way poet Donika Kelly describes when she writes, “Let us be ocean and coast, a taking into and over one another, shifting sediment, a breaking down of rock.” Ah, that image—ocean and coast drifting in and out of one another, mixing together, shifting and breaking down and adding to one another. Like every person I’ve loved, every moment I’ve deeply lived, places I’ve visited, all drifting and crashing and merging and mixing into who I’ve become. It is a miracle, really, the way that we all become one another. And a miracle to believe that in the chaos of it all, there is a beautiful order of things making love at all possible.