“How many years of beauty do I have left?
she asks me.
How many more do you want?
Here. Here is 34. Here is 50.
When you are 80 years old
and your beauty rises in ways
your cells cannot even imagine now
and your wild bones grow luminous and
ripe, having carried the weight
of a passionate life.
When your hair is aflame
and you have decades of
learning and leaving and loving
the corners of your eyes
and your children come home
to find their own history
in your face.
When you know what it feels like to fail
and have gained the
to rise and rise and rise again.
When you can make your tea
on a quiet and ridiculously lonely afternoon
and still have a song in your heart
Queen owl wings beating
beneath the cotton of your sweater.
Because your beauty began there
beneath the sweater and the skin,
This is when I will take you
into my arms and coo
YOU BRAVE AND GLORIOUS THING
you’ve come so far.
I see you.
Your beauty is breathtaking.
This is a poem I started passing on to a few of my beautiful silver-haired friends this week after being introduced to it by my friend Maureen who was reading it to her elderly mother. This morning I decided it’s too good to not to share with all of you – silver or not, woman or not, young or old – a gift of recognition of the beauty of a well lived life.
How many years of beauty do I have left? How’s that for an opening question we might all be asking ourselves, at any age, though not in the traditional sense of the word. By the time you reach 80 (are you there yet? do you know someone who is?), she tells us your beauty rises in ways / your cells cannot even imagine now. Can you imagine? And how your wild bones grow luminous and / ripe, having carried the weight / of a passionate life. Oh my! Now your hair aflame with winter, your learning and leaving and loving show in the tender lines around your eyes and your children find their own history / in your face. This is beauty, the beauty of an aging face, a face with wisdom written on it.
This is the time of life when you understand what it feels like to fail / ferociously – love the fierceness of that failure, and also the resilience to rise and rise and rise again. Even in inevitable loneliness to still have a song in your heart, to feel that heart beating with the strength of an owl’s wings, a Queen remembering her beauty. This is no surface beauty superficially admired but the goddess within beneath the sweater and the skin.
May this poem remind you of your own loveliness, how far you have come and know that you are seen. I see you. / Your beauty is breathtaking.