To my Twenties

At a dinner party last night, I was having a great conversation over some wine with the hostess' sister, when it came up incidentally that she's-- ahem-- a good five years younger than I.  It was a weird moment, because she was so lovely, bright, and mature-- it was one of the first times (of many more to inevitably come) where it really hit home that I can no longer expect to be the baby in every "grown-up" situation.

This is, I know, I know, ridiculous to lament at the ripe old age of 24. But a funny feeling, nonetheless.

For perspective, tonight seemed like a good time to revisit a poem by Kenneth Koch I found a year or so ago:

To My Twenties

How lucky that I ran into you
When everything was possible
For my legs and arms, and with hope in my heart
And so happy to see any woman(
O woman! O my twentieth year!
Basking in you, you
Oasis from both growing and decay
Fantastic unheard of nine- or ten-year oasis
A palm tree, hey! And then another
And another (and water!
I'm still very impressed by you. Whither,
Midst falling decades, have you gone? Oh in what lucky fellow,
Unsure of himself, upset, and unemployable
For the moment in any case, do you live now?
From my window I drop a nickel
By mistake. With
You I race down to get it
But I find there on
The street instead, a good friend,
X---- N------, who says to me
Kenneth do you have a minute?
And I say yes! I am in my twenties!
I have plenty of time! In you I marry,
In you I first go to France; I make my best friends
In you, and a few enemies. I
Write a lot and am living all the time
And thinking about living. I loved to frequent you
After my teens and before my thirties.
You three together in a bar
I always preferred you because you were midmost
Most lustrous apparently strongest
Although now that I look back on you
What part have you played?
You never, ever, were stingy.
What you gave me you gave whole
But as for telling
Me how best to use it
You weren't a genius at that.
Twenties, my soul
Is yours for the asking
You know that, if you ever come back.

By nathan naze at 1:27 a.m. Nov. 24, 2008
Of all the poems they made me read in high school, there were a few I actually liked that have stuck with me. One of my favorites:


A. E. Housman
"Loveliest of Trees"

LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
By colleen at 10:34 p.m. Nov. 24, 2008
That is a lovely, lovely poem.
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