When my father was close
to death, we were stripped
of our history. I sat by his bed,
holding the ancient, twig-like
hand of a ninety-three-year-old
who, though absent for years,
was mythic to me.
As he lay there, under the weight
of a stroke, life undressed the myth
I put on him and he was just a frail
old man who had introduced me
to the sea, who had loved wood
into marvelous shapes, who sur-
rounded himself with books
though he was a slow reader.
After a lifetime of holding back,
he wanted to speak, though he
couldn’t. And I understood
A Question to Walk With: Describe someone important in your life and how your sense of them has shifted over the years.
This excerpt is from my book of poems, The Tone in the Center of the Bell.
Mark Nepo, New York Times #1 bestselling author, poet, and philosopher.
Mark Nepo is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Book of Awakening. Beloved as a poet, teacher, and storyteller, Mark’s recent work includes The Book of Soul: 52 Paths to Living What Matters, Drinking from the River of Light: The Life of Expression, More Together Than Alone: Discovering the Power and Spirit of Community in Our Lives and in the World, Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living; and a book of poetry, The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting. A two-time cancer survivor, Mark devotes his writing and teaching to the journey of inner transformation and the life of relationship. For more information, please visit: