The streets were old, but all the people were young,
Striding forward with great purpose,
Girls smiling openly in the faces of boys.
Not every boy noticed, but we all kept walking forward,
Over the bridges, under the trees,
Streets not growing wider
But the buildings growing taller, taller than the trees,
And not just taller but more mannered, ornamental, asking also to be seen.
How did this happen? Where were our parents, our teachers,
People who long before us had worn
Footpaths into roads, roads into thoroughfares?
We walked to the park, to the station,
Skin beneath our sideburns soft as a girl’s.
We watched the swan’s nest growing larger
Though we never saw the swan build anything.
It sat along the riverbank or floated placidly across the water
Like a Schubert song, the tenor unaware
Of the piano beneath, the left hand
Indistinguishable from the right—
In time, we observed in one another a sadness,
Not bitter, a resignation
That made our actions, no matter
How many times we repeated them, feel complete.