Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 1: My Son, Billy Collins, "On Turning Ten"

My son is six years old.  He's tall for his age.  Reads at a third-grade level.  When he gets up in the morning, he stumbles to a chair in the living room, looking like a fifty-year-old office manager in need of his first cup of coffee.  Stubborn as a lumberjack.  He's not my little boy any more, and he frequently reminds me of that fact.

But he still kisses me good night.  Sometimes, if sleep is still clinging on his back, he'll climb into my lap in the morning and snuggle.  He'll be reaching all kinds of milestones in the next few years.  For now, though, he's still toothless, with a little lisp.  He loves fart jokes and runs around naked after his baths.

One day, in the not too distant future, he'll want to do things I don't understand.  Shoot things with a gun.  Take apart car engines.  Throw a football in a stadium.

I won't like it.  I'll try to get him to write poetry, dance in recitals, star in stage musicals.  I'll try.  Probably fail.

Saint Marty might be raising a Republican.

On Turning Ten

by:  Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

I wouldn't mind if my son grew up to be Billy Collins

1 comment:

  1. I will throw the football with GPA. Yes to poetry and musicals, NO to dance recitals.