Vision of the Body


For Jorge Angel Pérez

Why is it now
as we leave our youth
and beauty behind
do I find the bodies
of budding girls and boys
so beautiful,
the irreverent gaze of others.
Now that gray hairs show themselves
and my flesh is less firm
my legs less firm
as they outrun death.
Now that skin’s glow
the brightness in my eyes
and smooth forehead
slowly recede.
Now that my body is smaller
searching silently for earth,
now that I learn to forget
to forgive insults,
when my failures are less tragic
and my victories more overwhelming
and suspect.
Now that I am slow to cry
and endings appear closer
and more certain.
It’s normal, you tell me,
but I’ve felt fear
when I look in the mirror
and discover an unknown face
I recognize as mine,
when I finally begin to accept
this divine and terrible project
of being born
and moving through time
until we are so alone
so isolated and alone
as dry
as this small leaf
that has come to die in my window.