Nothing To Lose

For as we age

Our faces fold in upon themselves

The maps of all our days emerge

In laugh-lines, in worry-warts

In fingers grown like twigs on a forest floor

Beginnings mete out endings

Relations fall from edges of our earths

White-salted seas encroach once-growing green

But all in all, I would not have it any other way:

For from these stiff environs

Virility of the mind evokes

The thoughts speak themselves

I am beyond caring, evolved from a life of care

Having achieved my mantra:

I have nothing left to lose

Each day to gain

God himself has tasted my winter soul

And wrought the miracle of spring

Within.

 __________________________

Familiar as my teeth is age

Brought into balance by agelessness

For all that brings eternal into mind is mine

Too soon, too young retires into mist

As all turns white

The color of my bones

Emerging into earth

And when this is decay & eyes are dark

This life no more

A tiny spark will up, away

A laugh’s delight

Free of sinew-flesh, of lips & liver

Free of knees that kneel no more to men

With arms no more to carry, carry

Lifting life & bearing it.

My woman’s heart will finally know silence

As into the drumming beat of life I go

Into the seas beyond a mortal shore

I’ll swim, a silver skim of scales

Mouth wide to all the light of life

Eternal & intense

Reflecting in the mirror

Behind me all the toils of the world

I swim to fly,

Oh Mother! Father! I had the most wonderful dream!

_____________________________

The Muse returns, unequivocal, demanding

Surrounding me with her perfumed robes

Pushing the pen into my hand

Closing my eyes, I write once more

The words that will me to live for ever

For ages yet to be, for thoughts unheard

On paths unseen

She turns my head away from all of now

As I become the beyond of her desire

“Write!” she snarls, pearly teeth all shown

“Never be I said I failed you, my slave to words,

Silver-hearted, blood-borne light,

“Write, you fool of phrase, trap them each

In broken sigh. Pile them all upon your sleigh

Take up the traces, pull them forward

Wake them up for there is no such thing as sleeping

To be had today.

Dash your tears into the future

Follow them there

What lies beyond cannot forget itself, let alone forgive,

But must be said, be felt in dream again

I leave no stone unturned, no gift unopened

This is all yours, this blessing of the Scribe.

You need aught else, you have no more

Than these true words grinding into wheat

Between the millstones of your swollen heart

And this, your only life.

Yes, you hear me now; I’ve never died

tho you’ve given me last rites

I will ink your middles

Till you rise into the last Word

Like God Himself calling forth all heaven.

“Write!” she growls, “you think you’re harried now?

I will harrow you to dust unless you do!”

 

 

 

 

 

O Vanity (or, on Being Beautiful)

Every day I carefully sift through my closet to put together an outfit that’s coordinated, spiffy & “interesting.” I sigh about being on old lady, but I dress it up anyway. I fix my hair (wear it front or back?), I dress for the weather (long sleeves in New Mexico can be too much at any given time, even midwinter, given our 360 days of sunshine), I select footwear: shoes or can I still get away with sandals? I dig out makeup (a bit of eyeliner to paint under the epicanthic folds gravity is kindly manifesting for me), I bring in the magic 10x mirror & sit it in front of the light-filled window & pick at the salt n pepper facial hairs determinedly darkening my complexion (oh to be fair! But then, I never was in this lifetime.) I defuzz by degrees after the initial shudder at the ever-visible moustache line.

I tried whitening my teeth & that worked pretty well, tho expensive & sensitizing to gums. I try to walk each day after stretching out on the yoga mat through a warm-up routine tho I never quite get to full count on anything abdominal. I use three-pound hand weights when I walk – got biceps? I do! But who sees these? I can’t walk around all day flexing like some gym rat checking the bod in a hundred mirrors. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to, though. This is my first time in life with real biceps, after all.

From a distance, I look pretty good. It’s only up close & when I smile that you see the parentheses of wrinkles crinkling everywhere. My throat has a kind of sun-ray pattern to it which I find interesting, but which keeps me from wearing necklaces I once loved, as I don’t want to call attention there. And as I smile & the wrinkles appear & the collagen-depleted skin rearranges, guess what emerges from the little valleys between the crinkles, like some 3D kiddie pop-up book? More hairs.

I have read that hearing is the last sense to go in the body. But I have news for you – it’s Vanity. What’s the last thing done to the body? The undertaker puts make-up on you! Right? And as we age, our ears begin to once more grow (they also [OMG] clump bunches of hair). Our noses become visible from space. Our triceps assume the consistency of slackly drooping clotheslines. Our necks crepe up, our eyebrows figure it’s time to finally meet one another across the nose bridge…on & on. We should probably light candles to the great god Gravity, but Gravity, having brushed every appendages down in a bland assurance that nothing is where it started, has left the building & is out somewhere holding down trees & cars & waiting for apples to fall.

I see my mother’s hands when I look down at them typing. I see my Mom’s hair, the little waves all about. She used to put a touch of olive oil in hers for shine & control. I use a kind of sticky power-gel in a vain attempt at total control. We lived by the ocean & beach hair is a phenomenon of itself.  Before I left Delaware, I started seeing t-shirts saying “Beach Hair, Don’t Care!” so I know it’s not a private matter any longer. Now it’s advertising.

So, after all is said & done, all the zipping up & pulling down, all the blow drying & insertion of earrings, the careful selections & accoutrements of fashionable accessories, I make sure I stand far enough back from the mirror that the details blur out a bit. I tell myself, “Just look at how beautiful you are!” And I walk, loose-limbed, straight-backed, smiling my face into its road map & head out. Today I wore a mostly red tie-dye shirt, a red hoodie vest, a red & purple scarf, carried a flowered Laura Ashley bag & wore lipstick. It paid off!

In the Wal-Mart, as I headed for the SmartPop white cheddar mini-bags – my latest sugar avoidance go-to (tho to an Italian, cheddar roughly equals chocolate) – I heard a voice behind me say, “I love your clothes!” And I turned, beaming, to the four-year-old fella holding to granma’s shopping cart to say, “Thank you, dear!”