mental indigestion

In Extremis January 29, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration — mel @ 8:22 am

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.


4 Responses to “In Extremis”

  1. Pinny Says:

    oh wow! you actually met him!! about 2 weeks ago i was in the martin luther king library waiting for a meeting to start and so browsed some of the shelves. i was looking for a name i recognized but didn’t really see one ‘cept for john updike. it looked familiar but i’d never read anything by him. i don’t remember if i picked one up that day. then the next week i saw that he died and he was kind of a big deal.

  2. melch Says:

    i realise i get quite groupie when i meet “established authors” 😛

  3. cath Says:

    hi mel, great post, lovely poem. i studied john updike’s memoirs in junior college. liked him then. 🙂

  4. melch Says:

    hey cath, wow so cool you get to study modern authors for lit!

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