Now it’s undeniable.
From the corner of my eye I still see, slight, a girl. She lingers in the lines beside my eyes, in the way my hands wave along as I walk. She whispers in my hair with the wind. A certain time of day and the light might catch her, fresh and terrified.
But she’s receding. She’s receding in everyone, tethered behind children and marriages, failures and dreams we face and shake off, forever lost to us. Those versions of us, those gentle philosophers, music prodigies, the fame and the fortune, they are slumbering, tucking away as suddenly, we’re old enough to realize that when I grow up is never going to arrive. We are there. We are the other side.
We begin to misunderstand, we shake fists at youth while staring wistfully. A girl on the cusp of womanhood wanders by, and we remember, the halting nervous legs, newborn colt wet and ready. We see the age in eyes, the age she holds already, but unburnished. We sigh and miss and wish we knew, wish we had listened as you cannot then, youth born of fire and deafness. We scatter ourselves back in time but cannot touch.
We wimper as the young men walk by, brash and unshaped, time is gentle on the immortal. We remember and we stall them for time, willing the air to steal back that which, so vital, becomes hidden, stolen away from us. Our bald spots and wrinkles, cellulite and blood pressure, when did it replace joy and vigor and the sweetness of another day? When did we lose sight?
When did we get so old? How did we begin to forget? Where once we sat in glory as the world moved for us, now we’ve been shifted back, into wings, the far north to ripen off and age and pass, our jobs here done. The shine is off the penny, and time, it marches for no one but itself.
One day it was suddenly all about places to stay instead of places to go. How did we let it happen?