It has always fascinated me – the aging face. One day I looked in the mirror and thought ‘when did she get here?’ I still looked like me but the difference between my younger face and this one is difficult to put into words so I wrote this poem to try.  There I was in a photograph and here I was in this mirror.  My body shape has changed too.  It’s such a cliche to say ‘oh but in my head I’m still 16, but there is a truth in that.  I do feel like me.  The thread stretching back from here to the young me is there and although I don’t wish I was 16 again like I hear some people say, I almost forget I am so much older.  I forget I look like I do now.  I forget that when I’m walking about in public, talking to people, laughing, dancing and the million other things I do, I don’t look like the 16 year old or the 20 year old – no I am a 67 year old and it comes as a bit of a shock when I see my older self. I like being this older woman with all the knowledge I have accumulated.  I love having grandchildren and not having to go out to work every day.  I love slobbing about and having to decide whether I’ll potter in the garden or go and have a cup of tea with Maggie or sit and write something.  I don’t have a problem with getting older at all – I just wish I wasn’t always surprised when I see what I look like! 

 

 

Reflection

 

In a shop window last week

I saw the reflection of an old woman

staring at me staring at her

that can’t be me I thought in despair

and I stood for a moment to examine

my hair

my teeth

my mouth with its starburst lines

my thinning skin

and my many chins

I stretch my neck and head upwards

then backwards

hearing the cracking of ligaments

until the pain is too much to bear

and it makes no difference anyway

my hereditary chins are still there

back home in my own cruel mirror

I condemn and banish white eyebrows

body hair thins

and it doesn’t matter any more

oh those years of creams and razors.

I scan the backs of my hands

and note the raised blue veins and pale brown spots

and take dread delight in pulling up the skin

counting how long it takes to spring back

into flatness as the seconds tick by

and I smile at the word spring

I have become again that younger vain self

that examined every part of that self

searching for blemishes and signs of ageing

now too many to count

the ageing is there for all to see

this is no longer a private assignation between me and my mirror

it is there in a shop window

 

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