Many things I seem to have done backward

as a child I wanted to be older

now I am trying to remember why

and what it was like to have to pretend

day after day I saw places that I

did not recognize until later on

when nothing was left of them anymore

there were meetings and partings that passed me

at the time like train windows with the days

slipping across them and long afterward

the moment and sense of them came to me

burning there were faces I knew for years

and the nearness of them began only

when they were missing and there were seasons

of anguish I recalled with affection

joys lost unnoticed and searched for later

with no sign to show where they had last been

there with me and there was love which is thought

to be a thing of youth and I found it

I was sure that was what it was as I

came to it again and again sometimes

without knowing it sometimes insisting

vainly upon the name but I came to

the best of it last and though it may be

shorter this way I am glad it is so

it would have been too brief at any time

and so much of what I had found early

had been lost as I made my way into this

which is what I was to know afterward

W.S. Merwin