Taking Stock at Fifty
By Victory Schouten

I see my face on other women
who have made it through the years.

Roots grow through our shoes,
hold us to this earth we love.

Wide practical feet remember
their early days of beauty and high arches.

My brown hands and feet show blue veins
and age spots of long useful years.
Happy to be here, in spite of faltering equipment.

I harbor fewer illusions now.
Death and loss no longer stories told,
but lives lived, hard times survived.

There are lines around my eyes
and across my soft cheeks. Tissue paper saved
and reused too many times.

Familiar hazel eyes smile back at me
from the magnifying mirror as I carefully
apply eyeliner. Vanity still along for the ride.

Friends say I don¹t look fifty,
but they do not mean I look twenty-five.

Kept humble by having to ask box boys
to read labels for me at the grocery.

A certain fretful way I purse my lips,
has left its mark etched around my mouth.

Worry, that bad-tempered mangy dog of a habit
I have kept and fed all my life long, still wastes my time.
One of these days, I¹ll throw him out for good.

As stubborn as ever, and a little sadder.
Still hungry and earnest. Still flirtin¹ with strangers.
Still in love with my husband.

Still hopeful. Still here.

Still plenty confused from time to time,
laying sleepless in bed, second guessing myself.
I¹d hoped this would have passed by now.

Still grateful. Not confused about that.

Less afraid to speak up and be heard.
Too much at risk to hang back shy.

Just yesterday, I worried about grades,
and a date for the weekend.

Now I struggle to remain teachable and awake.
Some days it seems a long shot.

But now I love with a deep ferocious abandon
only imagined by the girl I was.

In fifty years I¹ve learned I am not in charge,
but I can still choose peace.

And that love, really is all that matters.


Editor's Note: Victory and her husband run www.GreatPath.com and do some awesome work over there! Check them out!.


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