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

32 thoughts on “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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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 ❤

  4. 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!

  5. 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 ❤

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 😉

  9. 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!! ❤

  10. I shall try to ignore my aging until they throw me in the crematory and fire me up 🙂 You do so as well girl….for we are all boys and girls.

  11. 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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