I saw my toes the other day.
I hadn’t looked at them for months.
Indeed they might have passed away.
And yet they were my best friends once.
When I was small, I knew them well.
I counted on them up to ten
And put them in my mouth to tell
The larger from the lesser. Then
I loved them better than my ears,
My elbows, adenoids, and heart.
But with the swelling of the years
We drifted, toes and I, apart.
Now, gnarled and pale, each said, j’accuse!-
I hid them quickly in my shoes.
– John Updike (1932 – 2009)
A far-reaching memory: Eight years ago in Missouri, before I even knew that I liked words, I went for my very first literary reading which was given by John Updike. It was winter, and it was cold and I was wondering why we had to walk so far to that hall where this ah pek was reading randy poems about elderly sex. But he had a crinkly laugh and ruddy cheeks and he scrawled “Keep Smiling” in my diary as that was the only kind of paper I had. “Is he a good writer?” I asked Cody. “He’s awesome.” And later I read his Rabbit books (which I realise only males seem to really really dig) but I actually prefer his poetry collection, which is saying something since I’m not a poem sort of person in the first place.
RIP Mr Updike.