Beneath the Sweater and the Skin

When I discovered this poem posted in a change room

I stood there, half naked, with tears welling up in my eyes.

It moved me and I hope it does the same for you. 

Beneath The Sweater And The Skin

How many years of beauty do I have left?

she asks me.

How many more do you want?

Here.  Here is 34.  Here is 50.

When you are 80 years old

and your beauty rises in ways

your cells cannot even imagine now

and you wild bones grow luminous and 

ripe, having carried the weight 

of a passionate life

When your hair is aflame 

with winter

and you have decades of 

learning and leaving and loving

sewing into 

the corners of your eyes

and your children come home 

to find their own history 

in your face

When you know what it feels like to fail 


and have gained the 


to rise and rise and rise again.

When you can make your tea

on a quiet ridiculously lonely afternoon

and still have a song in your heart

Queen owl wings beating

beneath the cotton of your sweater.

Because your beauty began there

beneath the sweater and skin,


This is when I will take you 

into my arms and coo


you’ve come so far…

I see you 

Your beauty is breathtaking.

Jeannette Encinias



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