Friday, June 22, 2007

Working Toward Beautiful

The bleach has not made it out of the closet yet, even though everyone is back to normal now. (Well, Scud's nose may still be broken, but...) As happens often, my poet self has subjected my housecleaning self to her will. If only I could spin the magic of a lovely, clean house in words. Trust me, people would be begging to tour my home at all hours. :) If I could learn to give my full attention and joy to my home the way I give it to my poetry, life would be different around here. But, alas, I must embrace the gifts I have and hope to continue developing other abilities.

The mop bucket really will find its way out of hiding today.


For now, I want to share something I wrote today. It is long. It's rough, but it made me feel happy and wriggly and light. I hope it does the same for you.

Working Toward Beautiful

I was never that kind of pageant girl.
My mother didn't cake my face with makeup
or dress me like a Vegas show girl
at five years old.
But I do remember standing in the hall,
playing fives with Daddy
just before I pranced onto the stage
in the ballroom of the Marriott.

And I can still recall
growing up surrounded
by What gorgeous eyes she has.
and What a pretty little girl.
Thank heaven for my mother
who cocooned me in gentle reminders.
What matters it that you're beautiful inside.
What matters is how you treat people.
And my vanity was kept in check.
Until I turned fourteen
and I was very vain.

But soon I knew.

I didn't want to be a vase
beautiful to look at but mostly pointless
if not graced by flowers
of kindness, knowledge,
strength, serenity.

And so I spurn the pages of Glamour,
dismiss the beauty tips in Vogue
and look for a higher paradigm of loveliness.

Like Doris, who once told me
I am grateful for the life I've lived,
words that didn't need to be uttered.
They were written in the stillness of her blue eyes
and in the skin around them
carved through, like clay,
with rivulets of joy and pain.

And gentle Clara, crowned by snow white hair,
her blessed hands bear the spots of age.
Her fingers are bent, spindly,
a testament to tireless hours,
holding fourteen children,
kneading bread dough with love,
wisely canning peaches.
I'm sure those hands have dried a million tears.

And Linda, whose carriage calls out volumes
about loving the moment,
feeling satisfied with what is.
Her deep voice lulls and comforts,
each word singing songs
of compassion and understanding.

These women know secrets
that beauty editors will never tell.

So now I stand,
staring at my reflection in a stolen moment,
making peace
learning to love
a waist gone soft,
and hips spread wide,
stretch marks running over all
like lines of a map
showing the journey I've taken
giving life to four souls,
loving and losing an angel.
Breasts no longer firm and buoyant,
but hanging low and soft
from years of tender service
as babes grew to children.
I smile at the silver
streaking liberally
through waves of mahogany.
Squinting, I search for wrinkles
around my eyes
in my forehead.
What stories they call back to me
of care and concern, love, patience, worry.
I notice for the first time,
my eyelids are more wrinkled, sunken
than they were a decade ago
and gladly embrace the wrinkles
that form canyons on both sides of my mouth.
I love what they tell me.
I've smiled often, and generously,
laughed deep, throaty laughs
and witch-like cackles
every day.

Examining this version of me,
I silence voices of
Where have I gone?
and cocoon myself once more
in gentle reminders of what really matters.

I'm getting there.


Kris said...

That is very beautiful. I wish everyone could think like that.

Emily said...

it is a lovely poem - so beautifully written. i can always use a reminder to focus on the important things - becoming who i want to be.

Kim said...

love it.