Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

A Rethinking of Wrinkles


dear Elizabeth,

as i close my eyes and imagine an age
that seems so far away
(which in actuality
is not so),
i realize that my youthful thoughts
fail to hold
all the meaning and significance
of wisdom.

wrinkles are evidence of freedom
because they show that the wearer of them
broke down heavy barriers and walls, saw
many rainy nights and wind-whipping days,
but survived all of them
like war-heroes who wear medals of age
on their faces and skin.

i pray i will make it to that time
and that i will celebrate when my smile lines
sink in to the corners of my eyes
and when the veins in my hands rise
like mountains to show my strength.
i’ve almost died so many times
that life almost seems too unkind
to allow me to see look into my future
without hope being jaded and blind.

i equate age with loneliness
because as i have grown older,
i’ve looked to my left and my right
and find that old friends have dropped by the wayside
and this is when i’m in my prime!
so when i’m just an odd number
that can be divided into many factors,
i wonder what amount of so-called compadres
will remember my birthday;
how many will be there to rejoice in my victories
and to console me when all i have
is tears to wash over me.

it’s a scary and curious thing,
and in my age of questioning,
i can’t help but wonder and appreciate
a wrinkly old woman who has changed
my perspective,
shown me that there’s more than one route
to approaching life
and that there is value
in the poems i write.

thank you…

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6 responses

  1. Susan B

    I once wrote
    about growing into my mothers’
    hands the wrinkles
    and age spots multiplying
    in my forties and here I am
    soon to be sixty
    having lost a breast
    like her but
    have already lived one year longer
    after surgerys end
    and I am no longer
    counting the years
    of sameness
    but of difference
    and celebrating
    the separation

    Thank you for you words pearls

    October 30, 2008 at 1:06 am

  2. My, my, my…that is beautiful. Thank you for sharing that, Susan! I am happy for your survival and pray that you’ll have many more years of difference and separation. Be blessed…

    October 30, 2008 at 5:26 pm

  3. So now we are three,
    passing lines across
    time and space,
    three different faces
    all from various places
    meeting here to cheer
    each other forward into
    a future we can’t know
    while keeping our voices
    raised in a harmony
    of different parts,
    with hearts that meet
    in strange agreement.

    Farah, I would like to introduce you to one of my compradres, Susan. See, loneliness just might be one of those truths that, over time and living, becomes no more than myth.

    October 30, 2008 at 5:27 pm

  4. the strength of womanhood,
    like barbed wire that cuts away
    all that is unnecessary
    like differences in age and color
    and bonds our stories
    to one another.
    we are all pearls,
    cultured yet unique,
    displaying well-rounded beauty
    while maintaining our stories
    underneath.

    I am very pleased to meet you, Susan. And thank you, Elizabeth!

    October 30, 2008 at 5:51 pm

  5. “so when I am just an odd number
    that can be divided into many factors…”

    I could pull a tractor through this field
    of words, hauling my divided factors
    over the ground, tilling rich soil all around,
    giving it air, room to breathe, warm space to
    conceive its own meaning, gleaning nutrients,
    where others find just plain dirt, to be
    shaken from hands, or taken for so much silliness.

    See instead, your willingness to shed
    that easier way, harness what is uniquely yours
    and fling it toward a passing breeze, swing
    your hips with ease, as you swing your arm,
    to throw these seeds along a path
    that others would not travel.

    Unravel a tract seldom taken, shaking
    the past off shoulders others would burden
    with rules like boulders too heavy to carry.
    Would strap that pack on a back that
    is young, until it bent like that one
    of the wrinkly old woman you mentioned.

    That is not my intention, nor my purpose.
    I come to encourage, lend support while you
    build whatever fort you feel is needed.
    A secret place, where you will find your
    face on walls grown tall with the work
    of your hands, on lands you have claimed
    and will one day possess because you
    tilled it alone while making a home
    for strangers.

    thank you Farah, for being a gracious hostess.

    Elizabeth

    October 30, 2008 at 11:35 pm

  6. Beautiful and moving…

    And the pleasure is all mine!

    November 1, 2008 at 1:37 am

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