Nga mihi, welcome to a new year, the Feast of Mary Mother of God.
Fleur Adcock, a New Zealand poet is well-represented in New Zealand anthologies of poetry. One of her poems is titled Weathering.
Literally thin-skinned, I suppose, my face
catches the wind off the snow-line and flushes
with a flush that will never wholly settle. Well:
that was a metropolitan vanity,
wanting to look young forever, to pass.
I was never a pre-Raphaelite beauty,
nor anything but pretty enough to satisfy
men who need to be seen with passable women.
But now that I am in love with a place
which doesn’t care how I look, or if I’m happy,
happy is how I look, and that’s all.
My hair will turn grey in any case,
my nails chip and flake, my waist thicken,
and the years work all their usual changes.
If my face is to be weather-beaten as well
that’s little enough lost, a fair bargain
for a year among lakes and fells, when simply
to look out of my window at the high pass
makes me indifferent to mirrors and to what
my soul may wear over its new complexion.
May I suggest that on this feast day of Mary, Mother of God you gaze on the illustration and read the poem.
Let Mary, the Mother of God, have hair turning grey, nails chipped and flaking, a waist thickening, and the years working all their usual changes.
The illustration is a detail from a painting by Peter Paul Rubens titled “Old Woman with a Basket of Coal, 1616 – 1618, Old Masters Picture Gallery, Dresden, Germany