mark nepo

Poetry: Upstream

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I typically read poetry to students at the beginning or end of my Yin yoga classes. I often read works by Danna Faulds, but this past Tuesday I shared a piece by one of my favorite poets and authors, Mark Nepo. I occasionally struggle with what is "appropriate" to read to students while they rest on the mat, grounded and relaxed. I don't want to overwhelm them with material that is too long, but I like to share things that I hope will offer a gift to their heart. Like so many of Nepo's work, this poem really touched me. In fact, I have reread it several times since Tuesday. Given the joy this poem brought me, I thought if fitting to share it with you. I hope that it speaks to you -- be it in your head, heart, or soul. I suggest reading it twice. Trying reading it aloud. It's often good to hear the words of a poem as well as reading them on a page or screen. Enjoy!

Upstream by Mark Nepo

When it is we who do
the stepping, it is hard
to see the steps. But
look where you are.

Years ago, the gift
you carried since birth
was waiting inside
for you.

This very day you’re
bringing what you
carried through the
fire into the world.

Even more, you’ve
become the cup that
holds your soul.

You fit your gift.
Your gift fits you. It
doesn’t matter if you have
everything in place. Slow
and live this day. You
have earned this view.

Excerpted from The Way Under The Way: The Place of True Meeting

Poetry: At The Window

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I was at the window
when a fly near the latch
was on its back spinning—
legs furious, going nowhere. 

I thought to swat it
but something in its struggle
was too much my own. 

It kept spinning and began to tire.
Without moving closer, I exhaled
steadily, my breath a sudden wind
and the fly found its legs,
rubbed its face
and flew away. 

I continued to stare at the latch
hoping that someday, the breath
of something incomprehensible
would right me and
enable me to fly.

— Mark Nepo