Monday, March 7, 2011



My mother holds her cheeks for my inspection;
"Beautiful," I say, "just right,"
Glad that her old eyes cannot see
The lines that cross her face
Like a brand.
She is of an age with Marilyn and Liz
But without the surgeon's knife or early death
To freeze her in a frame.
I've heard that in her later years,
Elizabeth the queen froze herself with paste,
Turning a once fine face into a clown-like mask
Against whom none dare laugh.
I contemplate this now
As I paint my own beginning-to-fall face
And line my drooping lids with kohl.
I think it is no laughing matter;
Without the asp, would Cleopatra, too,
Have been this tragicomic parody of youth?


  1. Beautiful Karen, really enjoyed it, especially the opening lines about your Mom.

  2. I liked the story telling with the trace bit of vanity pushing it along.

    Question...though I know you are talking about Marc Antony's Cleopatra do yoou know how many antiquity Cleopatra's there were in actuality?

  3. I think along these same lines, lining my own drooping lids.

  4. I love this - an excellent question there at the end.

    My face looks totally different to me these days - not just drooping & dark circles under the eyes. It looks like its taken on a whole new SHAPE. I'm trying to decide whether I like it or not :)

  5. The big 70 fast approaches .... No knives for this lady though. Nicely written!

  6. For what it's worth, Elizabeth at least also had the excuse of covering up smallpox scars (not very becoming for a Queen). :) Still a wise and enjoyable message, though.

  7. I'm actually quite enjoying the changes in real life, though not in photographs!

    I like the use of so many women in the poem.

  8. You accurately portray our obsession with youthful appearance. I must add that,as a 51 year old, I feel more beautiful now than ever in my youth, and the lovely lines of living traverse my every inch.

  9. I'm not ready to let go of who I was either.

  10. Sorry that I've not been around blogs lately. But I do keep reading all of you whenever I can... and when I read this, I couldn't resist commenting. This is brilliant Karen. I know I can't say that I can relate to what is written, but I feel the gravity of your words. And yet you've managed to take some weight off it by keeping a light air about it. It was a wonderful read, as always.