There were springs when
the trees could not bear the weight
of their own blossoms, and bicycle
trips into the country-side, and songs
we sang late into the summer
nights while firefly torches flickered.
We ate raisins and almonds, not
only at festivals, but often, and our
aunts, in their black dresses, doted
over us, slipping gelt into our pockets
when they thought we did not notice.
I took the prize in essays in
my last year at the lyceum; papa was
beaming.  I had a kitten, and on rainy
afternoons she curled in my lap as I
sat by the window reading, and the
soft sound of her purring harmonized
with the patter on the sill.
Oh, there was so much of life to be had,
and so much there, still, untasted, that
to lose one minute to sorrow seemed a sin!
If only we could know, when we are
living, what a gift we hold -- This is
what I tried to say, what I wanted
with every ounce of being to tell you,
sir, as you stood there, pale and
staring, not wanting to see and not
able --not daring-- to look away, so I
stopped in front of you, holding my hands
over my naked breasts, catching your
stricken eyes, with only minutes left,
I knew, to live, and, oh, so much
to say, but all my lips could utter was
my age: "Twenty-three".  And, for all
that could be said, it would do.

W. Luther Jett