On Turning Ten
The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.
You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.
But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.
This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.
Billy Collins's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (On Turning Ten by Billy Collins )
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Death is Nothing at All, Henry Scott Holland
- Play The Game, Jessie Pope
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
Poem of the Day
- Nostalgia, Rimni chakravarty
- The Spirit-World, Emmanuel George Cefai
- Blinded by stress, Emmanuel George Cefai
- Of Fauns Of Satyrs, Emmanuel George Cefai
- The next activity, Emmanuel George Cefai
- As aged I, Emmanuel George Cefai
- true friend, Rani Jain
- In laziness begot, Emmanuel George Cefai
- When Times Will Ring with Bells, Emmanuel George Cefai
- Hurling themselves over the rocks, Emmanuel George Cefai