to catch a unicorn you have to
all with an astonishing measure of innocence
They're crafty beasts, unicorns
with their thin legs
and thick manes
and some people say
their horns are gold.
I've lost my chance to catch my unicorn
I'm too old
Daria Witt 1978
I found this poem in grade 9 in an anthology of poetry written by troubled American youth. I have a vivid memory of that library - the quietude, the sun streaming through the window, the secret solutions to life's problems in between the covers of so many books.
I checked that book out and renewed it so many times my mother ended up buying it for me. I still have it on my bookshelf and I still remember the words to a number of my favourite poems, the ones that resonated deeply and helped shape a fourteen year-old girl.
Something so innocent and simple as a poem or a picture can become a lasting influence. My daughter found a tiny brass unicorn amongst her things (it used to be mine) so I told her this poem at bedtime. I tried to explain what it meant to me and how important it was. She didn't really get it, but I will try again when she's older. I know she will find her own influences and keep them forever - she is her mother's daughter in this way.
And we go to the library, she and I. She might not understand hope and regret, but she understands the infinite possibilities that lie waiting on the shelves.