Were you once eighteen, Billy Collins?

Were you once eighteen, Billy Collins?

I’d like to think that you were once as wide-eyed and as foolish as me, that you never got your words in quite the right order, and that somedays you gave up, tired and frustrated.

I’d like to think of you leaning over a notebook, maybe in the middle of the night, holding one of those cigarettes you so often mention, smoke curling up towards the ceiling, ashes spilling onto the desk, smoldering for a few seconds before turning permanently black, white, and grey.

I’d like to think that you tapped your pen against your cheek and that you sighed dramatically like I do when the whole prospect of being a writer seems as pointless as a career in engineering.

I want you to have struggled so that I know that I’m not alone, not so very juvenile, not so very stupid for thinking that maybe I have a future in playing with words.

I want to know that with your dignified wrinkles and receding hairline came wisdom and improvement.

I want to know that when the corners of my eyes droop, when I develop those oddly named crows’ feet, that I too will the sort of person that get recognized by Congress and speaks at The Strand.

And makes eighteen-year-old girls write about how much they want to be like you.

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