In my young-adult days I was frivolous and needy
As a young mother I tried too hard to please. Now I’m adventurous, Successful and cheeky
And I have been for a while.
My motorcycle helmet has taught me That I don’t always have to smile.
She replaces the helmet on her steel-grey hair And sits confidently back in her chair. Beneath the visor you can tell her Mind is on her next adventure.
Friday afternoons in my art college days I chose fabric from the market, The next woman says.
I made a complete Saturday night outfit Right down to my hat and bag, Without a pattern, Just my imagination. I designed myself the way I wanted to be.
Like me, says another. I still have some of my curtain-fabric skirts, I loved the big, bold prints.
I travelled to different cities to see my favourite bands I danced all night And slept at railway stations Because there were no trains home.
My younger self was restless and spontaneous. Now that I’m older I don’t feel much different Apart from the Arthritis!
I piloted an aircraft, solo when I was seventeen, the fourth woman tells. Now I’m seen as the village wise-woman, Resourceful, reliable, helpful and calm. She smiles But that achievement was what made me feel I could do anything. She sits down.
I was a punk, says one.
I trekked up the Lost World Mountain, says another. The rest of the women join in –
I took the magic bus to India,
I lived in a commune by the sea,
I abseiled down the Humber Bridge,
I was the one who climbed the highest tree.
Then they spent years known as Mother, known as Wife, As the woman at the supermarket till, As the one who organised the bills.
They were the accountant, the doctor, the solicitor, the receptionist. The bra-fitter at Marks & Spencer’s, The teacher, The nurse at the hospital, The door-factory manager.
They were the one who made sure your belly was full And you went to bed on time. You thought they’d be lonely when you all left home And their retirement party at work was done
But now they’ve stepped out of their roles They’re on a roll.
They’ve started all over again And it’s just like when they were young.
It doesn’t matter that their backpack’s now on wheels And they have to remember to take their pills And they wear comfy trainers instead of heels And they don’t drink as much as they did Because it goes straight to their head.
When their busy day is done The best treat they can think of is to go to bed
With a book.
I said a book.
Tracey Scott-Townsend 2017