Delusions of Youth
by Carol Hamilton

One guy told of how as a child
he thought the girls would surely
fall in love with him if only
they could see him sleeping.
I had the same delusion
along with romantic dream
scenarios of fainting
into a soon-to-be hero’s arms
or of being an exceptionally
brave crippled girl.
Too many Victorian novels
and Hollywood romances.
I did faint a couple of times,
bloody messes
with no new romance to follow.
And now, at this way-beyond-
romantic-illusions age, I learn why
those waspy-waisted beauties fainted so.
The corsets, of course. Like bound feet.
Such goals we set ourselves in youth.
My own mother ruined her feet
for life wearing sizes too small
in order to look dainty.
My feral cat friends are gorgeous
in their high-dollar winter coats,
but clumps of fur began to shed
the other day after a warm week.
I told them to keep their wraps on
but they care nothing for fashion.
Their wardrobe follows
some inner clock and the sun.
Perhaps we were the same.
Yet even today, with all this wisdom
piled up, I feel pretty sure
I am still living on some ill-informed
and wildly foolish dreams.

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