“Lifesong with Two Trumpets” by Mark Nepo

Lifesong with Two Trumpets  (From his book “Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness”)

who swill their head

in a bucket and claim

there is no God or Good

or Beauty to be had.


I come from a tribe

of survivors who love life

more than the hardships

they’ve been dealt. And

we have found each other

the way rivers find the sea.


We know pain, fear and

struggle, like dark fish

nibbling at our bottom.

But have grown love, faith

and will like barnacles,

razored out of sight.


We come from under

every sort of rock: drunk,

raped, abandoned, cancered.


And as we navigate our way,

everyone trembles at the

wheel, the cost of being real.


So I’m fed up with those

who suck at the dark side

of things, complaining

they are bored, complaining

life’s a chore, complaining

there is nothing but their

chaos to applaud.


To be broken is no reason

to see all things as broken.


To fear death

is not a calling.


I have outlived a tumor

pressing on my brain, have

had my 8th rib removed, and

though I wept in the tub at the

gash in my side, at the fact that

I can be slit open so easily

like a bull pumped up for

market, I only want life

more, long to dance tillmy heart sweats, till my

mind stops anticipating,

till I understand the dead

tree’s part in the design.


I long like a root, deeper

in the earth, so I can reach

farther to the sky.


So don’t tell me

there’s nothing

in your bucket.


To brush my teeth has

significance after three

weeks of lying flat. And

there’s glory in the water

from my mouth as it swirls

down the sink in rhythm

with the largest falls

I’ve never seen.


And when the missing

rib aches, I dream of

swimming naked in life’s

waters with those who

pulled me back to this

season of mystery

so many refuse.

A Question to Walk With: Describe a time of struggle in which you felt both fragile and strong. How did these qualities show up in you? How have they settled in your daily awareness after the struggle had passed?

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