03/03/2015 01:31 pm ET Updated May 03, 2015

A Walk Through Time

TIMOTHY A. CLARY via Getty Images

Months after my father died, I found myself in New York City, wandering through the Museum of Modern Art, a place I love. On the third floor, in an exhibit featuring the work of Gauguin, I felt his presence strongly.

A Walk Through Time

Up 7th and over at 53rd, I'm back at MOMA.
The last time I was here, I came from the hos-
pital where my father was tethered, dangling
from his life, his shock of white hair looking
like Moses after he was stunned by the energy
of God's face. But my father didn't believe in
God, though he worshipped the sea. Today,
etchings by Gauguin who at 34 lost his job
when the French Stock Exchange crashed
and beyond his fear, his gift for painting
was waiting. No one wants to accept this.
But when the first dream comes down, the
real dream begins. With no formal training,
Gauguin was compelled to cross the sea till
he found himself in Tahiti carving mysterious
statues from old tree trunks. I'm now before a
woodblock of a woman listening to a voice in
the sky. She's made of lime wood. The chisel
marks smell like the shavings in our basement
when I'd watch my father stroke the nicked up
surface of mahogany to reveal its woody center.
This is where we meet: craftsman, artist, poet.
I imagine the three of us in some café: Gauguin
impatient with us, my father wondering why I
brought us together, and me feeling awkward
but content, to know the place we all come

A Question to Walk With: Tell the story of a time when one dream came apart which in time revealed another. What did you learn from this difficult unfolding?

For more poetry for the soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.