Oy. My mirror’s telling me a story I don’t want to hear. Or, more accurately, see. The story we all have to hear and see, whether we like it or not. And we don’t. I don’t. Like Dorian Gray, I prize the lithe beauty of youth highly and have let my ageing face affect me more than is reasonable. The lines on my face dragging ominously southward are like daggers to the heart; I am a punctured balloon that can bring no more joy to the world.

I have said in the closet of my heart, to God, ‘I would rather die now, at this forty-something age, than watch my face sag into shapelessness.’ I have said to my husband, ‘Will it not be an awful thing to see each others’ bodies with organs once so vital, lose all buoyancy, shrivel? We shall be like withered winter leaves with brittle bones…’

But, as Mr Shakespeare, that Great Bard, said, ‘Golden lads and girls all must, like chimney sweepers, come to dust.’ (In his time, a chimney sweeper was also a yellow-gold dandelion, how poignant that image of how speedily time’s breath brings all to dust). Ah! I long to be a golden flower, to have back the shining youth, but ‘Forty winters have besieged my brow and have dug deep trenches in my beauty’s field’. Vividly put, Bard dear. But as I continue in my closet talks with God, slowly a change comes over me. No, He hasn’t miraculously given me back peach-smooth skin, sadly, there are no such miracles recorded in the testaments. Sigh. But the Spirit stirs me to seek peace; to learn quiet and stillness of soul. Acceptance, yes, of course, but not just resignation. Soon, perhaps, even serenity?

But for now, I can say with that other poet in Ecclesiastes, ‘Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.’ Ha! I’ll try to laugh at the days to come. And write poems like this one:


gone are the madcap march hare days
where i leap and care not to look,
with peter pan fly fro and to
the neverlands,
mary poppins merry-on-the-go,
then gallop off the daily round,
ain’t life grand!

i trudge now the tortoise days,
bottom sags with vanity and
forty-something face,
head now in sage bow
for small mercies;
secret smiles in miles of star,
my fifty-something lover’s
sure touch

gone are the madcap march hare days,
the bloom of fancy,
rock ’n roll romancy;
i don’t mind so much

By THE MASTER’S BARD, a Cape Town poet and drama teacher who prefers to avoid publicity.

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