Reflections on the various dimensions of feminine vocation from liturgical homemaking and child rearing to education and the spiritual life.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Midway in Love

Years ago, when I was a new, young lover, I stumbled on a curious book of poems at a used book store. I flipped through and read the title poem along with a few others and was charmed. Feeling slightly self-conscious about the questionable literary respectability of such a collection of narrowly niched poems, I bought it anyway: When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple.

I happened to see it again this evening and opened randomly to a middle page to see what I might see. And this is the poem I saw:

Love at Fifty
by Marcia Woodruff

We come together shy as virgins
with neither beauty nor innocence
to cover our nakedness, only
these bodies which have served us well
to offer each other.

At twenty we would have dressed each other
in fantasy, draping over the damp flesh,
or turned one another into mirrors
so we could make love to ourselves.

But there is no mistaking us now.
Our eyes are sadder and wiser
as I finger the scar on your shoulder
where the pin went in,
and you touch the silver marks on my belly,
loose from childbearing.

"We are real," you say, and so we are,
standing here in our simple flesh
whereon our complicated histories are written,
our bodies turning into gifts
at the touch of our hands.

However literary or sentimental, the poem is wise. While I am not yet fifty, I'm no longer twenty either. My body also is scarred and silvered with stretch marks. The veteran lover of the poem heartens me to age graciously, to love courageously, to give my real and simple self. Her words, finding me midway, turn into gifts.