Editor’s note: Do you love poetry? Have you recently come to appreciate the beauty and creativity each line of prose offers? Well, we’re hanging on every line of Morgan Harper Nichols’ new book, How Far You Have Come. Morgan’s heartfelt story telling and desire for experiencing the most authentically human parts of life are both relatable and inspiring. It’s more than just a book of poetry. Morgan shares personal stories from her own life’s journey. The good, the bad, and all the growth in between. Morgan describes it like this:
In this book, we’re going on a journey through 8 landscapes inspired by a road trip I have taken many times in my life: Georgia to California. Whether it’s the plains of Texas or the mountains of New Mexico, each chapter holds art, poetry, and an essay to inspire you to consider how your history makes you who you are today. See full explanation on Morgan’s Instagram >
We hope you enjoy this sneak peek of the poetry from Morgan’s newest book!
My parents worked so hard to provide for me, but in one crashing tidal wave, I sank all our hopes. I didn’t have a category for failures who rise again, the failures who find their voices again. In movies? Sure. But in real life? No, that just didn’t happen.
As the memories overtook me, I tumbled under the water, losing my sense of what was up and what was down. I swirled and flailed about, wrestling with the lies I told about myself. I had to find my way back to the top of the water. I finally opened my eyes, and I found sight of the light. I surged to the surface as water dripped from my lashes, and I fought to find sight again. I gasped for air. Inhale, exhale, I told myself. Just breathe. Breathe. You are free. Your failures do not define you. They are there to teach you, not to bind you. Breathe and be free.
I saw the blackbird soaring high in the blue sky, drifting sideways any way the wind blew. That’s who I wanted to be. So fierce and so free and fearless, like her. It occurred to me, fear is conquered only when we are free to spread our wings and not hold so tightly to things. I had to let go of my manicured future and singular dreams. I had to be willing to follow the signs and look to beauty to guide me. I had to learn to trust the Light, even when I felt like I was drowning.
I paddled back to the Alabama shore, and for the first time in months, I felt like me again. Oh, it is so powerful to arise on the other side. I could not undo my story, but I could begin again.
I stepped onto the beach with new courage, unsure of what was next, but after being brought so low, I now knew that I could soar. That I was made better under those waters, and that my dreams were not finished with me yet.
Morning dew is frozen over
as winter hints at her arrival.
Your jacket shields against the wind,
and bitter coffee
lingers in your mouth,
while your mind turns gray,
as exhausted as these overcast skies.
You fear you cannot face today,
but perhaps you have strength
to carry on another minute,
six sets of ten seconds.
Maybe you’ll lose track of them
one moment at a time.
These days are tiring,
but hope is hovering.
Step into these grassy farmlands,
take cold air in, let your lungs expand.
In morning’s mist, shed your fears and run
free to pursue all the dreams you planned.
Learn to feel the yellow grass beneath your feet.
Learn to keep going, even when it’s hard.
And when you need to, take a breath to rest and
learn to be present right where you are.
The days ahead will not be easy,
you will dive into waters unknown.
You will listen for your name in crowded spaces.
Unnoticed, you will feel like you’ll never find your home.
Listen to the story of the grass beneath your feet.
Shout your name louder than ever before.
Your journey may have acres of confusion,
but for every step you take, your wisdom will grow all the more.
if the blackbird
of times she tried and failed
or if she has always taken flight
with such ease and grace.
I wonder if she struggles to find her place,
where to put her nest.
I call out to her as she flies by,
but she doesn’t bat an eye.
She is focused,
too busy living free
to have time to explain all her ways to me.
So instead of watching, waiting,
and being left behind,
I decided to breathe deep
and try flying too.
Break the binds
and the ways you used to think.
Take a closer look.
Your heart is calling you onward.
Come and sit by the window.
Consider the glass with its
smudges and fingerprints.
Consider what’s beyond
and where you belong.
Talk to yourself
and all the women and men
who came before
who write to you
secrets that can harm you,
secrets that can free you.
Break the binds.
Break the binds that hold you back,
unbind their pages
and bury them.
They don’t deserve the honor of your eyes.
Break the binds that hold you dear.
Make them worn with use.
Let their words of worth be on your lips.
Break open their hope,
because in these pages,
you are unbound,
you are free.
Come and face the reflection
before you go and
look for your reflection
in the water,
and have a closer look.
Sit with the silence.
And go back out again.
Excerpted with permission from How Far You Have Come by Morgan Harper Nichols, copyright Novkoa, LLC
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Life is truly a road trip and with every curve, bump, and roadblock we come out on the other side a new version of ourselves. How often do you reflect on the parts of your story you’d rather forget? How are you taking steps to letting those seasons be building blocks rather than barricades that keep you from freedom? Come share on our blog!