Older woman holding young maskThe grime that won’t lift from underneath fingernails
is the yellow glimmer of youth
uncaring it is messy and rigorous
when you can live unbrushed
climbing from bed to public without spending
an hour examining your face, patching scars of endurance
when did age, creep so effortlessly into expression lines?
when did light, become so certainly, a foe on certain days?
as if inhabiting mood explained itself in the creases of your skin
you may deflect, somersault and berate
after all so many years wearing your emotions within
bound to spill once the cork is sodden
those hours you thought nobody saw
burning candles between pinched fingers
rubbing sulphur on volcanos urge
how many tears and ache does it take?
to leave emotions wreckage like single moment captured in paint?
who is the photographer who knows how to unearth
our secret selves hiding in wainscoting and plaster
of the past?
I understand why women plump their gaunt hollows
filling their lips with plastic hope, to go a few more years without
showing the world their chapped inside
they seek their former selves, to feel warmth of sun
on unfreckled necks
perhaps it would not sting if love could wear age well
when you are hot faced and tear streaked
wiping in one stroke and smiling
everyone believing the dress you wear is new and unwrinkled
such is the forgiving fabric of youth
succor for the gentle hearted, sugar for the brave
now in unforgiving light you see the evidence of age
lying on your face like a lover will unwittingly expose themselves
in a flicker, in a mere blink, beauty reduced to ungainly
for what we cannot see is more intriguing than
all the dilapidated truth behind our eyes
as much as we may wish to express ourselves
not that candidly, not as if pinned by wings to cork board
spread for all to see every instant of our writhe
biographies of the years, footprints of etched grief
can’t hide the truth as you age, can’t help but reveal
if I leave now without putting on my face
combing my hair over the deepening lines
hiding behind color, clothes, artful turn of head
if I don’t literally prepare myself
like a carefully followed recipe
or posed selfie empty of truth
I will feel as if I am walking naked in public
no skin on my feelings to disguise the years
I have been trying to get well
tell me?
is that why contentment is much like a cake
rising beneath warm air
and disappointment a river
shallow and fast
is that why they say joy can be seen in a person’s smile?
and sadness will devour, even the best actor
looking at my fracture, I resemble every melancholy spent
like old wine will eventually revert back to sugar and sediment
settling cloudy at the bottom of a carafe
buoyed no more by light

0 Replies to “Ageing”

  1. “And sadness will devour, even the best actor” oh man, straight to my heart and soul. Some days I think I deserve an award for best actor but the envelope would be a mix up as I sadly leave with no award. Thank you! Beautifully composed and so insightful!

    1. I think you deserve an award too as I never see that side of you (it would be okay – it would be all right – if I did – just so you know) I think you are very good at hiding that, so much so you seem to give to everyone else and never ask for anything for yourself. I see many good people who are plagued with sadness or depression who give so much to others until they are empty and nobody even knows they are suffering too. I hope somehow you get things from the world because you richly deserve them my friend and anyone who is your friend would love you whether you were depressed or not. To feel less than that, is not love, and is not compassion or good.

  2. Wow! Absolutely love this one and feel it deeply. I have lived this poem for years now, and you express it so beautifully. I feel as if my exterior can no longer hide my interior, as it has done so well for so long. I’m afraid, I’m no longer invisible, sadness and fear are at last breaking out, once they leave my skin, there will be no place left for them to go, except back to “sediment” and maybe then I’ll be free <3

    1. I must confess I hadn’t known that feeling until recently, I was trying hard to put it into words, to describe what it was I was feeling and imagined many others to feel as they got older, and I came to see it was a feeling of being exposed, not hiding behind the flawlessness of youth, somehow the interior being on the exterior. I cannot say why that happens, maybe on the other side of that revelation is peace of mind! I hope so! Maybe it’s ultimately a positive, in the guise of something disquieting!

      1. I hope so too! It’s getting at the core of who we are, which has or should not have, anything to do with how we look. Your poem made me think about how my face can longer hide the struggle and pain, it’s now clear in the wrinkles and lines. I hope to view them as battle scars, a victory stamp… but not quite there yet <3

        1. But you are on the right path and that says a lot. Look at Helen Mirren? She may be ‘famous’ but she’s all-real too and I admire that, and she is attractive for it, and no longer hides behind anything. I suppose it’s a hard trip into the spotlight to come to terms with oneself truly as an adult, and maybe that’s what the searing feeling is, a shedding of artifice and reliance upon things that act as masks? Either way, I have faith that coming out the other side we all will be richer in spirit for it, and maybe if love endures, loved for the true us, and not a fine pair of legs alone.

          1. Yes, I am on the right path, thank you for seeing that! I like what I’m learning about being true to myself, and there are definitely those searing feelings. And lessons about who loves me just as I am, and loving myself just as I am, wrinkles and all!! <3

  3. I am a simple man and though I am a still water, I’m not very deep. In my spare moments, I stop by your cafe for a cup of coffee, usually drawn in by an intriguing image, and words that, at first glance, seem to have a life of their own and call out to me. Roses may be red, but everyone knows that, and God bless the poets who give us more complex thoughts that swirl in our minds, trying to find a resting place, a place where they can live among the notions that have been rooted in our subconscious for so many years. Sometimes your words echo for a long time; sometimes they never find that comfortable place in my mind. I am a simple man with limitations of understanding.
    But these word, spoken by a wise friend, said hello, we belong here.

    1. A simple man is a man who realizes he knows less than he thought he knew. That paradoxically would make him a wise man except such title would be unnecessary to that simple man who required only the insight of the moment to feel – genuinely. That sums up your depth that you may not own, and I can only humbly say any time you read me and appreciate some message or word of mine, it lights my skies, because you may be still water but you know what they say about still water. As for limitations of understanding, I respectfully insert the word ‘poppycock’ a fond English term I picked up, in rebuttle to that notion 😉

  4. Ah, this reminds me of my youngest son, so innocently asking “Mommy, why does your face crack when you smile?” I told him it was because I was so full of joy that it was, literally, terraforming my face.

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