all is vanity
a poem by  
  keith  o'connor
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This poem resulted from a writing assignment given to members of the Kanata Poets and Writers Club. I mined into my childhood memories to create one of my favorite poems: emotional with a definite victorian romantic flavor - my patertnal grandmother's flavor. Elizabeth O'Connor (Nee: Behean ) 1872~1964.
.all is vanity 

it hung 
in a place of honor 
above the love seat 
in my grandmother's 
nineteenth century parlor 
it hung 
through my childhood years 
 through my teenage years 
and on into my adult years 
my grandmother  
 looked into that picture 
 recalling and reliving 
some private distant memory 
that flickered a moment's joy  
in her fading grey eyes 
one day 
when still a little boy 
she showed me 
 the picture's secret door 
look closely 
 at the beautiful   
young woman  
at her dressing table 
 looking at her mirrored 
yes I see that 
look again 
at the whole image  
 you see a skull 
I was fascinated by  
how the picture could change 
before my eyes 
I remember my 
grandmother saying 
the day 
 when you become a man  
you will understand 
the secret 
in that picture 
my grandmother died 
before I understood 
the picture's secret 
before I became a man 
the passing of time 
 taught me it's wisdom 
I came to know 
I came to accept 
as my grandmother 
had come to know 
and accept 
that she  
was once that beautiful 
young woman 
with her own dressing table 
cloaked in exotic smells  
from an array of sensual bottles 
of shapes and sizes that hypnotized 
all who came near 

she knew 
just as I now know  
that time would sculpt us 
with age and  frailty 
into a mirror 
of the skull 
in her picture 
"all is vanity" 

Keith O'Connor 
Aug 3   2001 
Ottawa Canada 


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