Self-Examination on a Birthday
Legs made for Renaissance tights
I stood naked
at the mirror in my parent's room,
And I knew an old man,
would envy me this fine new body.
Light was different then, and
My skin tanned like milked coffee,
buckskin with a hint of brass.
The mirror's face was scoured with acne,
But the hands, the belly, thighs
smooth as oiled wood,
softer, but firm with fresh muscle.
Light was different, gentler,
more forgiving, radiant,
in that moment.
It was just a moment;
I turned away to daily youthful miseries
despair and failure,
Now, I am soft in the gut,
My belly, still flat, inch-deep in fat,
My legs strong but weary.
I look at my hands,
color and texture of worn gloves,
scarred, cysted, dabbled with pale
where scarred skin won't tan.
I feel my joints
bursitis gravelly in one arch,
ligaments taut in the stiff spine,
aches vague in knuckles, knees, a wrist.
The fabric of my clothing
draws and scrapes on dry skin.
But I would not be seventeen,
Thinking of you, agemate and sister,
laid there beside me each night,
Nor would I be seventy, nor thirty-five,
But just and utterly in this now,
these days of ours,
the where and when
we have invented.