This poem, inspired by Marie France’s beautiful painting, “Coquillage”, explores a woman who wants to keep from aging by using extracts from mushroom plants, sea sponge rubs and facial masks derived from Volcanic clay. In doing this, she enhances her skin and upholds the myth of appearing young. Yet, these methods only allow her to retain this youthful essence temporarily.

What Ione discovers is that staying ageless is all about using one's imagination, never failing to explore the magic of the ancient and the present, the real and the surreal. She is aided in this quest by her love for mythology, namely, the lore of Atlantis. At night when the tides roll in, she dreams and in a metaphorical way, her skull becomes a white nautilus spiraling down to those artifacts and lost fields of the fabled kingdom.

She wanders here as a "weightless nymph” not hindered by time or gravity. She can feel herself drawn to the wheat and olives as well as the great hero, Achilles. Though his tender heal was caused by physical injury, he also suffered from great pride that blinds one's wisdom. Ione realizes the efforts she has taken to remain young are also in vain and mirror-inspired. The true and pure secret to staying perpetually vibrant is through one's imagination. Atlantis is a prime example of this. Though a legend based on reality, it is the mystery and the magic of the place that remains timeless and draws generation after generation to its city name and legacy.

And I have referred to "imaginative" as the fifth trait because it is the quintessential one, the trait that invokes artistic expression, keeps the mind curious and connects us, as human beings, to a universe beyond our daily routine or location. The other four temperaments, (1) melancholic (2) Choleric (3) phlegmatic and (4) sanguine are related to the four elements of air water, fire and earth that were thought by ancient scholars and philosophers to control the human mind and body.

© 2011, Wendy Howe. E-mail.