Once When I Was Young

Once when I was young
I read about the men on a mission to the moon
how it raised a nation
a people
a planet
to the heavens

and I cried because I couldn’t understand
how it was fifty years on
and we hadn’t gone back

Once when I was young
I read about the bomb in the sky above the city
how it razed a nation
a people
a planet
to the dust

and I cried because I couldn’t understand
how we could do still worse
and yet act like we wouldn’t

Once when I was young
I looked at the adults in a rush around me
wondered how, knowing what used to be, they still smiled
how, knowing what could be, they still dreamed
how, knowing what the world is, they still loved

and I cried because I couldn’t understand
how to face the horizon unflinching
with loss behind and fear ahead

Now that I am older
I still cry
I also smile and dream and love
so that I, knowing what the world is,
can show a watching child how to live—
a child, maybe the same age as I was
once when I was young

Do you guys remember how old you were when you learned about atomic bombs? About the moon landing? Do you remember your reactions? For some reason learning about those two events made a big impact on me, for kind of opposite reasons. One made me long for what could have been, one made me fear what could be. Were there any realizations like that for you? I’m fascinated by those moments in our lives. Anyway. I hope June has been grand for you all ❤

3 responses to “Once When I Was Young”

  1. Abigayle Claire Avatar
    Abigayle Claire

    I love this so much. I do remember learning about both and both of them standing out to me. I definitely wondered why we hadn’t been back to the moon. Learning about slavery made me wonder how anyone ever thought it was right (especially growing up in the south). I also always wondered about ancient civilizations that are no more and what we lost with them. Explorers made me wonder if there’s anything still left to discover and explore. This is beautifully written and made me think back to how much learning history for the first time stuck with me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Abi! I love hearing about history that stood out to other people. I had the same thoughts about exploration–I was so sad when I learned that everything had been discovered (at least in terms of major landmasses, I guess). And same about slavery. It’s sobering now, wondering what the same issues are that will seem so obviously wrong to people in later generation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!!


  2. Judith L. Livingstone Avatar
    Judith L. Livingstone

    Dearest Abby,

    Starting when I was four years old I lived in great fear of the Germans and their bombs. At night I slept with my head under the covers because I thought that would protect me from the bombs of the Germans. Everything was rationed during the war and we walked everywhere because gasoline was rationed.. Every week we took money to school to buy stamps to buy savings bonds for the war effort. When the war ended everyone was euphoric. I had no knowledge of atomic bombs or why the war ended. I was eight years old at the time. All I knew was a great feeling of relief that the war had ended.

    All my love,


    Liked by 1 person

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