On Turning 21

Author’s Note: This is the third and last of three poems written for my friend D.R.’s birthday. The title is inspired by the title of Philip Larkin’s poem “On Being Twenty-Six”. The poem is more didactic than I wanted it to be, but I think the cloying metaphor (a flaw in itself) makes that particular flaw a little less obvious.

Several times a day, the old —
Wonder over the product of their youth
Wonder what great victory they claimed
Or are as yet to claim
Wonder what great efflorescence bloomed —
From the garden of their youth
Lying perhaps unattended
In one of those shadowy places of the spirit now desolate

That we should not thus wonder, wander in vain
We claim our victories now
We reap from the garden its early efflorescence
Reap entire the most glorious lily harvest of youth
The splendor of the morning harvest is most bountiful
Sic, carpe diem et vitae, et quam minimum credula postero


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