Twenty-One (Again)

by Sam Cohen

Twenty-One (again)

Routine lapses into routine.

Another day of mechanical motions
Brought to a halt -

My friends have gathered with me
today to celebrate.

I am twenty one.


The last two times I
Confess were worse than the first,
But this one seems different.

My companions and I are solidified by
A survivors bond;
We are made strong by
Tests of mind overcome,
even as our bodies have lost
The supple strength of youth.

We will gather in the afternoon and
Toast our health in whiskey,
Muse upon the future and pause
To remember summer cabins,
Dreamlike firefly evening telling
Stories and delighting in one another
Before Marconi electrified the sky -
I kiss you and you upon musty cheek
As if to say,
"I am here as you are here,
We have come this far with
Each other,
And because of each other,"
Remembering the passing flickers
That in youth seemed tremendous
As bonfires on desolate seascapes.

The night destroys the day
In the mundane manner prescribed
Now for eighty-four years
We still pause in twilight to observe
The days passing,
And soon we are alone together.

We shall dance, as we have
For most of our lives,
We shall dance in an

Ever dwindling circle and pray
Against the day when quiet
Claims us at the last.

We shall come together with
A fervor dimly remembered,
And for a moment, we shall be young.

I am twenty-one.