Monday, September 03, 2007

Poem for middle-age

I think most poetry is appreciated differently by people in middle-age. There has been more loss, more love, more experience of life, to make reading poetry a bitter sweet salve. I think of the many women I know, above 40, approaching 50, who are rediscovering themselves, making a new life or new identity after divorce or after children leaving home, who look at themselves in the mirror and see new wisdom lines on their faces and wonder where the 16-year-old self they have lived with so long as disappeared to. This poem is one of my favorites, because it suggests that now is the best time to savor that meeting with oneself, now is the time to Feast on your life.

(see more poems on menopause and mid-life at

Love after Love
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


Olivia said...

Love this, Jenn. Thanks. I gloriously "crossed over" to 50 two weeks ago! It is a special, a sacred time.

Brian Campbell said...

That's good! I like that one. Reminds me of the Rumi poem, The Guest House.

Anonymous said...

I have The Guest House' on my fridge. It reminds that everything, everything, everything is a divine gift, I need only look for it like unwrapping a Christmas present, keep going 'til the good part comes!

Once, when I was little, swimming in the Ottawa River, I must have been very still, because a fish took notice of me and bit my little toe. You never saw anybody get out of the water so fast! Paddling furiously on my air mattress. Sometimes I need to remember: with feelings, their 'bark' is worse than their 'bite'. (Do a fish bark?)

Maggie May