The layers by Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abodes, 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 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 it’s feast of loses?
In arising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way, bitterly stings my face.
yet I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact 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 in 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.