5.3.18 Back garden mulch
There is no getting around it. I do not look good just now. I am pale and drawn and slightly jaundiced, like something you'd find somewhere damp and dark. My eyes are swollen and shrunken small, eye bags bruised and heavy, my short hair brittle and rapidly flecking grey. I exist, crumpled, made bloated by thick jumpers, hunched by fatigue. To come face to face with people is to have them pull back a little, through surprise and concern. I am no-one's fantasy just now and would laugh loud at any attempt to be.
There is an unexpected freedom in it, in shaking off prettiness for a while like something extra and unnecessary. I simply have no energy left to pretend or preen. I do not look good because my body is sick just now, and why should it be expected to make beauty its all when it is tired and fighting hard. I don't owe anyone a pretty face. That is not a required payment to the world or to anyone to prove my worth, and knowing this is only making me love my friendly bones all the harder. I can't help but scoop myself up like a mangy old cat, all scars and patchwork, wanting to bring warmth and care to all the ugliest parts that life tells me I should be horrified by. I am beginning to understand those old, bent women who dance, who shake the wrinkled sheets of their spotted arms, who let their low breasts sway. I am beginning to see the exhausted, obstinate sense in it. Why be pretty when you can be everything else?
There is something pure and perfect about ugliness. There is something mutinous in it. It comes free of sentimentality and delusion and all the other things we crowd around beauty, adoringly, until we can barely see it at all. It is plain and stark and true and joyful, when you let it be. And I feel it, worn out as I am. I feel the simplicity and wholeness of being uncovered like this because there is still so much room for love in all of it.
Love is not excluded when beauty leaves, not real love. If anything, it finds a new kind of power. Yes, to come face to face with people is to have them pull back a little at first, but I have noticed that those who love you most then move a little closer in response. What tenderness in that. What happy connection. I know that good things could still grow here.
It is making me look at ugly things again, at the rich compost of brown leaf mulch and the withered mess of snow's weight and grin with a secret knowing. There is power in decay and I claim it.
Besides, I can be ugly and still write like a dream. What on earth does it matter?