Friday, 12 September 2014

Life at the Shallow End OR Keeping Up Appearances


Not so long ago, I spent an evening with a couple about my own age (68) who are so obsessed with looks that they have resorted to cosmetic surgery on more than one occasion. Ironically, the results are none too flattering. Besides, its's personality that counts more than looks, and don't let anyone tell you different. 

Respect comes into it to, doesn't it? Personally, I have more respect for the person who lets nature take its course and stays young in at heart than for the man or woman who prefers to kid themselves they have discovered the secret of eternal youth. The body may be a slave to time, but that doesn't have to be true of the spirit. The mind may well be vulnerable, but a strong dose of positive thinking and avoiding daytime TV has to be a good start. Couch potatoes do not age well in my experience.

Now, I ask you. Gay or straight, let;s stay young at heart by all means, but what’s wrong with growing old naturally?

Surely, it's enough that so many celebrities love to make fools of themselves by trying to turn back nature's clock without we ordinary men and women playing the same silly game?

On my opinion, cosmetic surgery is only ever justifiable in cases when people may have some kind of visible disfigurement that causes them distress. [It would probably cause them less distress if other people were less obsessed with outward appearances and more concerned with the person behind them.]

This poem is a kenning.

LIFE AT THE SHALLOW END or KEEPING UP APPEARANCES

I’ll make a hunchback of you,
both feet arguing with the waistline,
whitened teeth making the tongue
abort every truer word you try to say,
as if you have no real affinity
with the fix you’re in, only vaguely
aware of some discomfort, unable
(or unwilling) to track down its source
so carrying on regardless

I’ll make a fine fool of you,
object of scorn (though tempered
with compassion among family
and friends who daren’t say a word
in case you mistake their concern
for interference, pity, jealousy;
always a slave to passion’s blind spot,
you embrace me in your heart

I’ll make a poor loser of you,
unless you choose to take me on;
recognize the enemy within
for what I am or else go as a lamb
to slaughter at the altar of vanity,
always seeking shelter from life’s
worst storms in love’s harbours,
but as a guest, no sense of belonging,
only a hungry yearning...

Better to take Time’s lead with pride
than behind its shallow promises hide

Copyright, R. N. Taber 2007; 2014

[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title Obsession in 1st (print) eds. of Accomplices To Illusion by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2007; Revised ed. in e-format in preparation.]


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