Poem: Nostalgia

From The Writer’s Almanac for today.

by Bil­ly Collins, from Sail­ing Alone Around the Room

Remem­ber the 1340s? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the col­or craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with uni­corns and pome­gran­ates in needlework.
Every­one would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called “Find the Cow.”
Every­thing was hand-let­tered then, not like today.

Where has the sum­mer of 1572 gone? Bro­cade and sonnet
marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags
of rival bar­onies and con­quer one anoth­er in cold rooms of stone.
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sis­ter prac­ticed the Daphne all alone in her room.
We bor­rowed the jar­gon of far­ri­ers for our slang.
These days lan­guage seems trans­par­ent, a bad­ly bro­ken code.

The 1790s will nev­er come again. Child­hood was big.
Peo­ple would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their jour­nals with­out speaking.
Our col­lars were high and our hats were extreme­ly soft.
We would sur­prise each oth­er with alpha­bets made of twigs.
It was a won­der­ful time to be alive, or even dead.

I am very fond of the peri­od between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trem­bled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recap­ture the seren­i­ty of last month when we picked
berries and glid­ed through after­noons in a canoe.

Even this morn­ing would be an improve­ment over the present.
I was in the gar­den then, sur­round­ed by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flow­ers, watch­ing the ear­ly light
flash off the slant­ed win­dows of the greenhouse
and sil­ver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

As usu­al, I was think­ing about the moments of the past,
let­ting my mem­o­ry rush over them like water
rush­ing over the stones on the bot­tom of a stream.
I was even think­ing a lit­tle about the future, that place
where peo­ple are doing a dance we can­not imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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