Hello again. I must admit that after my long absence, I’m not sure how to inhabit my blog anymore. For years, I’ve toyed with the idea of posting my poems here. My friend Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer has such a lovely daily poetry website. But I’m not sure.
What I do know is this: I want to be back here to catch whomever happens to stumble onto my site. I want to figure out what will live here, how I will serve you, my reader. Right now I’m going to give in to my poetry impulse and post the poem I wrote yesterday. This one comes from so many places. It comes from my tween who listens to that song “Scars To Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara. It’s from a lifetime of living in a media-drenched society that defines what “beautiful” means in such a narrow way. And it’s from the experience of having a head-shot photograph taken last week. I told the photographer about how all of my wedding photographs except for one show me smiling with closed lips. I was teased as a kid because my gums are swollen, larger than normal, decidedly not beautiful by the world’s standards. When I asked my teenager what photo I should pick between one with my lips sealed or one showing my gums, she said, “The real smile that shows your gums.”
Real Beauty Wears a Life Story By Nancy Schatz Alton
I am forever surprised by my own reflection while the world’s images shout,
‘Here’s what BEAUTIFUL looks like!” —the word a sword we use to cut ourselves.
No red blood, only this thought before the bathroom mirror: ‘oh, that’s me again.’
Where are my sculpted cheeks, cut by Photoshop?
I left them in the magazine in my living room that speaks of permanent mascara,
countless corners to cut and buy on the way to beautiful.
I am the woman with hips holding up the face rounder than I imagined it to be
with fading eyelashes and dirty glasses, a stomach sculpted by babies, full of
after-dinner desert and 11 am muffins. I’m coffee-stained teeth, ridged fingernails,
lips bleeding hastily-placed gloss hiding overgrown gums that won me schoolyard taunts.
I am the way to beauty, cuddling daughters who love my belly-fat, my aching hips,
my wry eyebrow lift and awesome full-body laugh. I’m tight sciatica muscle,
morning-bike-ride-to-nowhere-strong. I’m hair dyed by my teenagers, blow-dried
between shower and lunch-making, held up by expensive jeans and thrift-store shoes,
photo-shopped by time, framed by story, looking at beautiful in the bathroom mirror.