He knows I am not, and I know too, so we don’t talk about it, except when he pretends and I call his bluff.
I have my grandmother’s nose, my father’s cheekbones, the Chambers’ cowlick, a daughter following the paternal line, just like my father’s mother before me. So, no, I am not beautiful. So be it.
For flesh fades and flowers wither and I have settled it, except for the days, now and then, when I am paying attention and look in the mirror and sigh, the grey shining like a coronet at my temples, silver I’d rather forfeit.
Or when standing on the scale, digits tattle taling on that extra slice of warm bread, the cookies dunked in tea, the finishing off of leftovers on little one’s plate. I am caught and there really isn’t anything to say but feebly mumbled resolve and a promise to go tend the vineyard.
Or when looking down and seeing, then fingering, the stretchmarks from these six children who have swollen the walls of me, skin pulled taut and stretched… then released and let go, leaving wrinkles behind when they gave notice, cut the cord, and slipped out into spaces of their own.
Well, it could be that, perhaps, now and then, maybe I have less than settled it?
It’s no secret or surprise: running this river racing towards Home isn’t for the faint of heart, aging and graying and sagging and the youth once accepted in beauty’s stead now too ebbs away as the current rushes on.
So maybe that is why he says it, each morning a spoon cupping close in the dark slowly warming to day. His words tickle early, first.
And I startle the slowly waking day with my laughter, so wrong and ridiculous it is.
“See?” he grins. “You are.”
“Every woman who smiles is beautiful.”
And, I wonder: Why don’t we then?
“And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!”
Lord, if Your joy is in my heart, write it on my face. You, O Beautiful One.
Photo: Ann smiling…