Brief, Backward.
by Becky Schwartz
I make brief backward accusatory side glances into the mirror and peer out of the corners of my eyes at my haggard reflection, at my bent back and my hair clustered with dirt and sweat. I remember when I stared straight ahead into the mirror, thankful for my flush face and it soft curves and smooth lines. I stared, then, into relief that I had not yet tattered, that I had not yet perished and would not do so, would not shrivel and die of lost time. I looked at myself, then, (so long ago), and knew that one day I would not look straight into mine own eyes with such pride and uprightness, with almost challenging glares but instead I would flee the evidence of so much time past. It is not the deceptive idea of youth's beauty that scared me when I took in my too young face, but the understanding that it is not for lack of beauty that people fear the imminence of age, but instead for lack of life left and thoughts of life spent. I did not fear, then, in the cracked and fogged bathroom mirror the thick black hair turning grey, the smooth soft curves drying and wrinkling, the thin beard just beginning to grow in scattered sections filling in and graying out. I feared looking again into the mirror, having done little and having lived even less. I knew then that I needed to grasp hold of something solid and I held on to words without holding myself to them. I understood and could express more than those I knew and so I chose not to know. But now, again in a different mirror, far away from the one of my youth, I have nothing but words and wish I could live with nothing but words. I have come to notice that with nothing comes long descriptions of nothing and I must gain something or build something or I will have nothing to do with words but describe the things I could have built but didn't. I am not an old man, yet. I still have time.
Posted by: Becky Schwartz

Prose (June 6th, 2005)