When I was three-and-thirty


Last night, the Maiden’s desk was a disaster. Paper, markers, stickers, dried-out gluesticks, a water bottle, a Polly Pocket, Molly’s glasses, crayon wrappers, half-finished stories, a Wendy’s kids’ meal toy, and the Amazing Squishy Brain had obscured the surface so completely that artistic pursuits could now only be accomplished on the floor.

Then I came into my own office and looked at the pile on the desk and the pile on the printer and the pile in the closet and the pile that I shoved to the floor because I didn’t want it staring at me while I tried to work. And I sighed.

Not because I had no right to tell her to keep her desk neater than mine. And not just because I wished I had more floor space to hold the other papers I don’t want to deal with, either. (Although I do, really.)

But because I completely understood where she was coming from.

Which also meant I understood very well where she was headed!

And so, in true writer fashion, instead of cleaning up, I decided to write about it.

When I was three-and-thirty

(with apologies to my beloved A.E. Housman)

When I was merely three years

I heard the voices say

Play dolls or blocks or mud-pies

But put your toys away

Leave not your playthings scattered

Keep space around you free

But I was merely three years old

No use to talk to me.

 

When I was three and ten years

I heard the voices say,

Don’t drop your books and clothing

There in the entry way;

I’d sigh and roll my eyes then

And still leave my things be

For I was three and ten years old

Please do not talk to me.

 

When I was three and twenty

I heard the voices tell

You have your own apartment

’Tis yours to keep it well

I’d push the papers to the side

The better to study

For I was three and twenty

No time to talk with me.

 

And throughout all the decades

I’d hear them say again

The things we do in childhood

May spare us future pain

But learn we not our lessons

Then chaos may ensue

And I am three and thirty

And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.

 

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3 responses to “When I was three-and-thirty

  1. I LOVE this! My desk is a MESS too, and so is my daughter’s. ::sigh::. LOL. I identify with this so much. And fabulous poem you quote above.

  2. True genious.

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