Someone says I’m pretty and I flush, embarrassed by the untruth. Someone else tells me I’m beautiful, and I wonder, is it my soul they see, inside where it counts? Or have I not seen me in so long that the concept of beauty in and about me is abandoned, a sad boat deposited in a field by a flood, its paint flaking from its moored loveliness?
I have never thought myself pretty. But have decided, in the interests of fairness, to entertain the idea this year.
It’s strange to look at myself now. I don’t know this woman in the mirror, the one who has wiry hair that spins itself around my face, curls and waves. I don’t know the curves of my chin, as I wait for it to emerge from its flaccid hiding place, as I eat less and better. I don’t know these tired eyes, more green than brown these days, my favored hazel globes, I don’t know their softness, their compassion. I don’t know this woman.
I’ve known pretty people, still know pretty people, made lovely by their strength, their struggles and the lines it leaves on them. They’re the beauty I recognize, not mine. I am jealous of their etherealness, the impression they leave on people. They are not ordinary, and are recognized as such. Doors, Seas and hearts open freely to them.
I have always wished for that-for a delicateness on the outside, a certain turn of phrase that would mark me as feminine and flowered, for I have always been staunch and tree like, steady and firm. It would be easy to be the pansy swaying in the wind than the birch facing it head on? Both strong in their structure, just demarcated by beauty?
Perhaps for once, I’d prefer soft petals to rough bark, hard to scratch and even harder to remove.
I can’t relate as the flower-when I go out, I’m always taking up space, the bigger, broader version of female, ofttimes not looked at, for who sees the trees while glancing at the beauties beneath and beside them? I feel the room I take, and don’t feel entitled to it. My branches may stretch, but they do so unwillingly, and bashful, I can hardly look myself in the eyes most days.
Someone tells me I’m beautiful and my heart soars, then crests, then sighs. It cannot be the truth, even if I try to wish it so, even if I gather the petals to me.