Literally thin-skinned, I suppose, my face
catches the wind off the snow-line and flushes
with a flush that will never wholly settle. Well:
that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young for ever, to pass.

I was never a Pre-Raphaelite beauty
nor anything but pretty enough to satisfy
men who need to be seen with passable women.
But now that I am in love with a place
which doesn’t care how I look, or if I am happy,

happy is how I look, and that’s all.
My hair will turn grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake, my waist thicken,
and the years work all their usual changes.
If my face is to be weather-beaten as well

that’s little enough lost, a fair bargain
for a year among lakes and fells, when simply
to look out of my window at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what
my soul may wear over its new complexion.

Fleur Adcock, Poems 1960-2000 (Bloodaxe Books, 200)

I have always liked this refreshing poem very much; it speaks to me on many levels yet there is an overall feeling of progression and acceptance here that I have never, as yet, really been able to pull off.

I’m also not sure if I should even want to strive toward not giving any thought  to a thickening waist; in fact, I have a bit of a personal dread of “just letting it all go” since it seems so defeatist and awful to me — especially if you are with someone you love, it seems disrespectful not to try, somehow.

Does this make me shallow – or merely insecure?

I suppose there’s a distinction to be made between being “indifferent” to mirrors and actively avoiding them (can we talk about the “Fun Fair” mirror in the bathroom at my office where everyone looks faintly elongated and greenish?)

I’ve never been one who can simply wash my face and head out the door with wet hair, I always feel I’ve had to try a bit harder than other people.

Perchance I will never be that girl who thumbs her nose to all artifice and feels okay with it.

That said?

This poem still resonates and I will continue to read it many times.


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