Fires of Youth

Anne Whitehouse
First we are children, experiencing life
unfolding from within,
events superseding one another,
blotting out much of what went before,
save for those eternal moments
that remain in the adult mind years later,
suspended like insects in amber,
fixed outside the flow of time.

When we have our own children,
we are given a chance to live childhood over
achingly aware of how transient it is—
mysterious life with its pangs and pleasures
coming from us, flowing out of us.

And when the raising of our children is over,
and they set out on their own lives,
we are aware of life passed as if in a dream—
our mortality, our lost vitality.

Then how much more beautiful
to see from the aspect of age
the fires of youth brightly glowing
in the five teenaged violinists
in glittering gowns the colors of roses,
their dark, silken hair pulled back in ponytails,
playing out their hearts like virtuosos—

Debussy, like the siren’s piercing song,
winding its tentacles through the hearts
of the old people in the audience,
who then listened intently, with fading senses,
to Mozart’s crystalline joys,
and Bach’s bracing sonorities
breaking into Amazing Grace.

Anne Whitehouse

is pleased to appear in riverbabble once again. She was born and grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and graduated from Harvard College and Columbia University. Her poetry collections include The Surveyor’s (1981), Blessings and Curses (2009), Bear in Mind (2010), One Sunday Morning (2011), and The Refrain (2012). Whitehouse is also the author of a novel, Fall Love (2001), which will appear in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes in 2015. Her poems, short stories, feature articles, and reviews have been published in many literary magazines.

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