Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

On Turning Ten - Poem by Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

Comments about On Turning Ten by Billy Collins

  • (5/14/2019 11:22:00 AM)

    this is a good poem I really like it and is anyone else reading this in school? (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (5/13/2019 9:15:00 AM)

    oh oofers this is a great comment... (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • (5/13/2019 9:08:00 AM)

    oof i bleed when i skin my knees (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • (4/25/2019 12:35:00 PM)

    my name is doodoo bag (Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • (4/25/2019 12:32:00 PM)

    anyone else reading this in school (Report)Reply

    7 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (4/21/2019 5:22:00 AM)

    this is not poetry. there's no internal rhyme scheme and therefore no flow. it's not witty or charming. it's just a sequence of words thrown upon a piece of paper. (Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • (4/15/2019 11:01:00 AM)

    haha my name is doo doo (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • (4/15/2019 10:58:00 AM)

    I will be there in the quickest of fashion (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • (4/15/2019 10:54:00 AM)

    oooKkkkKkkkKKaaaaaaaYYYyyYYyyY boys and girLs? (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • (4/15/2019 8:51:00 AM)

    to the meeting area boys and girls (Report)Reply

    (4/15/2019 11:06:00 AM)

    My name is Jeff
    I love you

    (4/15/2019 10:59:00 AM)

    https: //
    plz use the link

    (4/15/2019 10:54:00 AM)


    (4/15/2019 10:54:00 AM)

    OK I will go immediately

    7 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (4/9/2019 12:54:00 PM)

    It is so good! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (4/8/2019 9:49:00 PM)

    i shall not. I only sub to less gamer channels (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (4/3/2019 12:10:00 PM)

    sub to pewdiepie (Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • (4/1/2019 4:28:00 PM)

    bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggggggggggg ccccccccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggggggggggguuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuusssssssssssssssss! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! (Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
  • (4/1/2019 4:27:00 PM)

    who want the butter chiken (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    10 person did not like.
  • (4/1/2019 4:24:00 PM)

    Who want to eat the butta chiken (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • (4/1/2019 4:23:00 PM)

    Dank emesu is a ninja ninja (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
  • (4/1/2019 4:21:00 PM)

    I was akshay patel i'm sorry (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    9 person did not like.
  • (4/1/2019 4:11:00 PM)

    Wanna Jam Some Fortnite? (Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    12 person did not like.
  • (4/1/2019 4:10:00 PM)

    MyNameJeff (3/31/2019 3: 21: 00 PM)
    what does it mean by drinking milk makes me invisible, when i drink milk i get depression

    0 person liked.
    13 person did not like.
Read all 98 comments »

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Read poems about / on: soldier, believe, today, light, remember, beautiful, house, tree, dark, time, friend

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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