If I Want to Keep Beauty

If I Want to Keep Beauty

Standing in front of the mirror,
combing my daughter's hair—
glossy dark chestnut softness,
the silver comb.

Watching my son run forward
into the pack, to take the mark—
the arc of the football,
collision of ball and body.

Stopping on a walk,
looking up: all the leaves
green and grey-green,
the wild symmetry of branches.

Scrambling over rubble
in that now-long-ago Singapore,
kang kong and mimosa spreading their green
over the broken concrete.

Sitting with my pregnant friend
as she weeps, her toddler frantic in front of the TV,
and prays for the man
who has just walked out of their marriage.

Kneeling beside my bed,
recalling the cross and its broken body.
If I want to keep beauty,
I have to become like him.

But how? I cycle down to the river.
After a winter of heavy rain,
the weir splits the water:
one side a raging torrent
foaming to the bend;

the other side a mirror
shiny with grief.

Between the two,
open as mercy,
the narrow path.


First published Westerly Magazine, vol. 58, no. 2, 2013, pp. 112-113.


Column Photo by Pat Whelen on Unsplash
Header Photo by April Pethybridge on Unsplash

0 comments on “If I Want to Keep Beauty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *