Alexander Averin

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Self Portrait

You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul

George Bernard Shaw


Self Portrait

Who is this old woman I catch sight of every day?
The face with wrinkly lines,the voice that seems to moan a lot
and always boasts of times gone by
when absolutely everything was so much better than today.
Her hair is steely grey now but she says she doesn’t care.
She says she’ll grow it long and throw the dyes and all her caution to the winds
and wear it in what old grannies called a bun.
She eats little and just loves her herbal brews,
treads carefully upon the stairs in case once more she falls.
She’s careless, loses words and patience,
names and glasses,
keys and memories.
(And doesn’t hear too well).
She hasn’t any vices, I cannot think of one at all.
She doesn’t drink, she doesn’t smoke,
she even tires at middle-day and sometimes takes a nap
and still retires to bed at night with only cocoa and a book
and tells me it is heavenly!
(Could she be more boring you may ask)?
She seems to know me very well, too bloody well in fact,
(we must be closely linked somehow?).
I really cannot fool her though however hard I try.
She’s seen it all and done it all
and brags to all and sundry
the fact that she’s a granny now and her three girls
are definitely the best and just the brightest in the world.
I kind of recognise her eyes and voice,
they seem familiar in a way.
But still I wonder who she is for
I cannot recognise her.
Her clothes are mostly purple now,
she doesn’t give a damn,
she knows just what she really wants
and what she will or will not ever do.
She’s been near death so values life
and loves her precious family.
And in some ways I envy her because
she’s become with age a lot more wise
(she’s read a lot you know)
and seems so happy in her skin.
I do enjoy her company
it’s almost like we’re kin.
But every time I see her face
she tells me she is me!
But it can’t be me, I feel so young!
Oh tell me please
where lives that soft young woman I once was
with my babies on my knee?

Cait O’Connor
PS Who invented mirrors? The swine!


Arosebyanyothername said...

Hmmmmmm - Everything except the grey steely hair! Mine is blonde.

pinkfairygran said...

With you on a lot of this... had life-saving surgery so know all about valuing life... and wearing purple (a fellow fan of Jenny Joseph?)... and hearing myself sounding like an old woman, yet I'm not, not at all.. No Really, I'm not!

Exmoorjane said...

Ah yes, indeed - why does the mirror tell such horrible fibs?

ChrisH said...

Something wrong with the mirrors in your house, Cait. I bet you'll look eternally lovely to us.

Mark said...

I liked this - not easy to write like that. I always winder where my hair has gone, never mind go grey


LittleBrownDog said...

Can identify with so much of this - especially losing words, patience, names and glasses. I don't think we value age enough in our culture - there are lots of positives about getting older: increasing wisdom, not having to worry about how we look all the time, and knowing there's nothing much finer in life than cocoa, a book and an early night.

Lovely poem, Cait.

elizabethm said...

Great poem and yes, yes, like rosie I am blonde but other than that, you speak for me too. Particularly on short memory and short patience!

Pondside said...

Oh dear, a bit close to home! I'm letting my black hair go grey and sometimes I'm surprised by my own reflection and the the 'new' colour of my hair.

lampworkbeader said...

Oh Cait, how true.

willow said...

Sigh. I know. Except I still color my hair. Mirrors--bah!

Nan said...

Did you write this??? Oh my, it is wonderful, Cait. My patience and memory (you might try B vitamins for memory) seem better than when I was younger. And I just began having cocktails in my fifties. :<) Never dyed my hair, and I think things are mostly better today than in past times.

Willeke said...

Oh...yes. Honest and touching. Isn't it time to value experience and look upon those little signs of 'aging' more as a sign of strength and accomplishment; of making it through life and still surviving with joy in one's soul?
Thank you...I started the day with a smile.

CAMILLA said...

Dear Cait,

I find it increasingly hard battling with ageism, the mirror tells me something, but not how I feel I look, older body but still with a young mind, and it is because of this that I think is what keeps us forever young Cait.

One thing I do know Cait, is that you have a very beautiful mind, this has to be a wonderful attribute, and you are an inspiration to us all with your lovely poems, paintings and writings.

Moi, more than three score years and some, dyed hair from which the grey hides beneath, whacky in style, but still with a deep longing for life on the edge as long as it holds books and art.

Thank you for sharing with us dear Cait.



Beautifully written Cait. While the mirror can reflect an image, it can never reveal the spirit of youth in those akin to nature, music, art, and books that lives for ever.