08/07/2013 03:55 pm ET Updated Oct 07, 2013

Three Faces

My new book of poems, Reduced to Joy, has just been published. The book contains 73 poems, retrieved and shaped over the last 13 years, about the nature of working with what we're given till it wears us through to joy. For the next few months, I'd like to share poems from the new book with you.

Each of us is made up of eternal forces -- part masculine, part feminine, part animal. Often, our creativity and our proximity to our aliveness depends on how well we know these forces as they visit us and live in us. This poem tries to explore my own relationships with these inner forces of life.

Three Faces

I have carried three faces
across my life, though from within,
it's clear, they have carried me:

a woman who can stare through
the leaves of any tree, who names the
tree by the birds who sing in it

a man who works hard at
clearing paths in order to stop
where the path ends, and listen

and a small child with the heart
of a horse, eager to sniff out any
thing alive and run to it.

Together, they have led who I
thought I was through openings
wide enough for only
what is essential.

A Question to Walk With: Describe the way your masculine energy, feminine energy, and animal energy show up in you. What is each trying to teach you?

For more Poetry for the Soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.