Mirror, mirror — who shall I see?
I see a woman who worries, a woman who is worn out, a woman who wears herself out from the inside out.
I see traces of the girl next door, though I was never the girl next door. Who is?
I see a woman who is vulnerable, a woman who was taught to please, a woman who is prone to periods of brooding. I see a woman who is dispossessed, so I pencil-in features that begin to fade.
I see a woman who is circumspect, a woman who is flippant, a woman who knows her angles. I see a woman who is nourished on silence, a woman who fights to retain her voice.
I see a woman with skin in the game, concerned with how long she remains in the picture, disturbed by a gradual shift to the periphery.
Mirror, mirror — who shall I be?
I am the mother who weeps, the mother whose belly has emptied of babies, the mother who sings from the barrels of her body.
I give a nod to my grandmother, peering out from my eyes, a wave to my father who has her beat by a nose, a blue ribbon to my mother who flashes a smile.
I am the woman who missed her prime, the wife who lived a false story.
This is portraiture in the guise of examination, representation that masquerades as reality. Perhaps it's only the natural course of the years.
I am a woman who brightens her cheeks, a woman who darkens her gray, a woman whose days and nights have always been tempered by light and shadow. I am a woman like any other, a woman who knows her métier, a woman who was beautiful for fifteen minutes.
They were, however, the wrong fifteen minutes.
Mirror, mirror — I understand your absurdity, your insistence, your wily hold. I acknowledge your promotional sway, your inflated price and the shameful opportunity cost of time wasted in your presence. But I'm delighted to inform you that I have arrived at this — a simple refusal to keep you among my intimates.
Yes, I check on you in the morning, according to my agenda, and I glance again at night, in the interest of acceptance.
Yet if I'm asked to share my vision, here's what I'd say: Take one modest portion of compassionate appraisal, two minutes of critical introspection, the occasional sketch of offhand impressions — then turn outward, stand tall, speak up, take strides. After all, we're no longer adolescents. Must we really reflect on ourselves ad nauseum? Must we rely on the judgments of others? Haven't we learned that time is precious?
Ours is the masterwork beyond reflection — the gift of seasoned distance and the art of appreciation.