|Homely little statue of the goddess Laurel, who is supposed to represent poetic inspiration|
I subbed in a high school library recently, which means I got to stand behind a desk sometimes and just watch them.
The librarian was watching them, too. “Aren’t they beautiful?” she asked, echoing exactly what I was thinking.
I was recently discussing this with a friend. “Even the not-so-pretty ones are still pretty,” she’d said.
Yes. They have fat, glossy hair and thin, glossy bodies. They are tall and strong and new and gorgeous.
They are works of art, these children, captured through the centuries, through eons even, firm in that age-old conviction that they are the first ever to be young. They are, and possess, every sense of the word, “ideal.” They are the infamous Waterhouse model and Queen Hatshepsut and sculptures of Roman gods riding off to war and Lord Leighton’s titian-haired princesses and Aztec sun gods.
“They have no idea how beautiful they are,” the librarian said. I think she was right. Youth has such irony to it. They know youth creates idols, worshiped in part because of its brevity, but they are still insecure in their newness.
Which is a good thing, I guess. And of course the not-so-new among us have beauties of our own that these children won’t discover until it’s their turn. And somebody else’s turn—for the briefest of moments, anyway—to make youth eternal.