On Being Twenty-six

I feared these present years,
      The middle twenties,
When deftness disappears,
And each event is
Freighted with a source—encrusting doubt,
      And turned to drought.
I thought: this pristine drive
      Is sure to flag
At twenty—four or —five;
And now the slag
Of burnt—out childhood proves that I was right.
      What caught alight
Quickly consumed in me,
      As I foresaw.
Talent, felicity—
These things withdraw,
And are succeeded by a dingier crop
      That come to stop;
Or else, certainty gone,
      Perhaps the rest,
Tarnishing, linger on
As second—best.
Fabric of fallen minarets is trash.
      And in the ash
Of what has pleased and passed
      Is now no more
Than struts of greed, a last
Charred smile, a clawed
Crustacean hatred, blackened pride—of such
      I once made much.
And so, if I were sure
      I have no chance
To catch again that pure
Unnoticed stance,
I would calcine the outworn properties,
      Live on what is.
But it dies hard, that world;
      Or, being dead,
Putrescently is pearled,
For I, misled,
Make on my mind the deepest wound of all:
      Think to recall
At any moment, states
      Long since dispersed;
That if chance dissipates
The best, the worst
May scatter equally upon a touch.
      I kiss, I clutch,
Like a daft mother, putrid
That can and will forbid
All grist to me
Except devaluing dichotomies:
      Nothing, and paradise.
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