Seen through your eyes you appear flawed; pimples
swell to fill the face
and the nose distorts to an odd shape,
unlike those pert sculptures deftly displayed by your friends.
Yesterday, the top looked just like
the pricey one you circled in a magazine.
Now all you see is a cheap copy,
but a little better than everything else you possess
so you throw a coat over it,
hoping last week’s indelible makeup stain doesn’t show;
fearing that boys may notice your flabby roll,
and out you go,
wishing you were anybody but yourself,
or at least that you were beautiful.
You don’t see anything but what the mirror shows you,
as you walk down the road
practicing and failing at invisibility,
you miss the group of boys whose eyes
silently admire your countenance.
You don’t even see the one you dream of
as he steps out in your direction
then falters, convinced that you will turn away in disdain.
When Mrs Jones says you look pretty
you believe she speaks out of pity.
The old lady at number eight lives alone.
Since her sister died she keeps her mind busy
watching the street from her window.
She sees the boys kicking the pavement
flicking tissue balls to relieve their boredom,
she senses the quiet breeze,
feels it whip out a concentrated whirlwind
exciting young masculinity,
and turns, catching the cause,
taking in your hair, your faraway expression,
your convincing indifference,
as you look her way.
You mistake an old lady’s wistful glance
for one of dislike;
while she remembers tea dances
wrecked by a stammer, a stumbling gait,
ugly plum coloured blushes that curtailed romance
and wishes she
had recognised and capitalised on her youth
as you seem to,
but after all, she thinks,
you are beautiful.
Written for The Daily Post Prompt #Youth
©Jane Paterson Basil