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