When I was young and brilliant, I was a philosopher prince. I wore silk vests of peacock green and knew many of the names for God. I walked briskly down the avenue, always aware of how important my time was. I collected titles and unique experiences. My shelves were filled with important books.
Now I am old and foolish. I walk with a crooked back down dusty lanes. My feet are bare and bruised, scarred with snake bites and broken glass. I hobble along from day-to-day, finding the most obscure things hidden in the grass, like a broken wasp’s nest, a shopping list, and the feather of an albino crow. I recite doggerel and children’s rhymes.
When I was young and magnificent, I stepped over the bodies of those who had fallen along the way, afraid of being contaminated by the contagion of bad luck. I was striding toward appointments, always keeping one eye on destiny and the clock. I had beautiful women on my arm and a silver pen for writing down all my important thoughts.
Now I am old and clumsy. I stand at the stove making Ovaltine for the one I love. I don’t know any more how to be brilliant, fine and self-contained, but I know a thing or two about how to give and receive a little pleasure. I know how to make soup and tie knots. I can tell an alder from a pine. In the realm of the possible, I’m worthy enough.
When I was young and absolute, I filled my notebooks with epic verses and designs for Gothic cathedrals. I read books by candlelight and studied how to turn base metals into gold. Like a colossus, I stood astride the Milky Way, meteorites tangled in my flowing hair. I threw great rocks and chunks of ice high into the sky to dislodge the stars, so they would fall about my shoulders.
Now I am old and foolish, a village idiot sitting on a fence at the edge of town. I sit there and I stretch out my wrinkled, shaking hands. I hold out my hands like empty bowls before me, and I catch the days. I catch all the falling days, like luminous petals from a cosmic cherry tree. I catch the falling days, like the beautiful toenail clippings of a happy god. And, little by little, a slow smile spreads across my drunken, homely face.