This droll piece is by Ruth Stone from "What Love Comes To. New & Selected Poems."
The Follies of My Youth
It's taken me eighty-five years
to become mediocre.
How brilliant I was;
how I threw it away like used Kleenex.
I never walked the side streets of New York,
I never played tennis,
I never swam in the Olympic pool --
I know my boundaries.
My neighbor's daughter
married into the Hogg Drugstore
and died of uterine cancer at thirty.
What was all that for?
At a party given by this new rich family
I ignored my partner, the short brother.
The short brother and the tall brother
were twins. I wanted to dance with the tall one.
The short one went inside and cried.
His mother made cruel remarks about me.
Could I have done the same as the neighbor's daughter,
married the short Hogg brother, and died young, too?
Here I am, old and poor.
Where is that short twin now?
Where is his loyal mother?
But I didn't think of bettering myself;
there were too many books in the world.
There was so much I wanted to read.