This poem can be found in the anthology “When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple” edited by Sandra Martz.
Love at Fifty
by Marcia Woodruff
We come together shy as virgins
with neither beauty nor innocence
to cover our nakedness, only
these bodies which have served us well
to offer each other.
At twenty we would have dressed each other
in fantasy, draping over the damp flesh,
or turned one another into mirrors
so we could make love to ourselves.
But there is no mistaking us now.
Our eyes are sadder and wiser
as I finger the scar on your shoulder
where the pin went in,
and you touch the silver marks on my belly,
loose from childbearing.
“We are real,” you say, and so we are,
standing here in our simple flesh
whereon our complicated histories are written,
our bodies turning into gifts
at the touch of our hands.
One of the things I love most about my job is my teen book discussion group. It started out small and was mostly girls, but it has grown over time and now has a few boys as well. Last month I was surprised when the meeting had only boys in attendance. This month, it was 50-50 — closer to the typical mix.
We had an amazing discussion of the book “Every Day” by David Levithan. It is not for younger teens, but was good with these high-schoolers. The book could be described as Quantum Leap meets teen romance — when the romance has really good character development. It is essentially a highly engaging commentary on life, love, relationships, family, humanity, gender, race told in 40+ daily vignettes.
Because the main character is only a human essence or a soul, it allowed a very understated exploration of gender and orientation, though a couple of the teens found it more difficult to identify with the character, because s/he was in a different body each day. I thought it was a brilliant way to explore the human condition in many of its aspects.
Admiration for David Levithan!