They have been coached their whole live-long. They are eager to be put on the spot, because they do not recognize it for what it is. They are prepared to flense the hide from another with the edge of their tongue, but no target is proffered. They are put on another spot, one they prefer to keep at home in front of a mirror, cracked. But they warm to their task like devils.
It is a deformed and crazy uncle in the belfry. It must not get out or he will desolate the landscape, entire. They have been coached to say nothing, lest they answer everything. They go to the confessional and eagerly assent that they’ve stolen a pencil they’ve never touched, while the corpses are stacked like cordwood in the secret cellar of their heart. They smile but there’s a dab of lime on their cheek.
They regret everything, except their lack of regret. This they wear like a badge on their sleeve. The cannonballs of life have taken their arm and the sleeve hangs empty; they say it tingles still.
There is only one regret in this world and I don’t have it.
When You are Old
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
–W. B. Yeats