WEATHERING by Fleur Adcock
My face catches the wind
from the snow line
and flushes with a flush
that will never wholly settle.
Well, that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young forever, to pass.
I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty
and only pretty enough to be seen
with a man who wanted to be seen
with a passable woman.
But now that I am in love
with a place that doesn’t care
how I look and if I am happy,
happy is how I look and that’s all.
My hair will grow grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake,
my waist thicken, and years
work all their usual changes.
If my face is to be weather beaten as well,
it’s little enough lost
for a year among the lakes and vales
where simply to look out my window
at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors
and to what my soul may wear
over its new complexion.
I first heard this poem a short time ago while driving home from New Mexico. David Whyte recites it on one of the CDs we listened to and were inspired by while on the road. With the passing scenery and his insightful words my heart and mind were cracked opened over and over again. If you’re taking a road trip soon (or not) I highly recommend his work on tape – he never ceases to inspire the mind and arouse the spirit.
Fleur Adcock was born in New Zealand in 1934, spent time in England with her family during the war, and then emigrated to Britain permanently in 1963. She worked as a librarian in London and this poem was written while she spent a year in the Lake District of England. Because I have never been to this part of the world, I can only imagine it’s beauty.
On this tape David talks about our individual “axis of attraction” and how it changes over time. He asks us to look at what the axis of attraction is inside ourself: “What am I attracting into my orbit at this time. What do I desire?” I think these are powerful questions, and may fall into the category of questions he calls “questions that have no right to go away“.
Most of my women friends (myself included, of course) are dealing with the issue of aging and learning to accept (sometimes not so gracefully) the inevitable changes that our bodies are going through. It is not unusual for our conversations to veer into the area of beauty products. And that is why I love this poem – it points us in a new direction for enhancing our beauty – happiness. Being happy and living a full and creative life is the best cosmetic – for any age!
‘Age’ is the acceptance of a term of years.
But maturity is the glory of the years.
Let these be our glory years!