Thinking About The Death Of John Updike

Out there in the world,
Some brittle oak leaves
Have survived the worst of it.
They cling, like the rest of us,
Beset and shivering on
Threads in March’s wind.

The sun barely changes,
Traipsing as it does, from
South to north and
Then to south again.
And the blueness of the sky?
Well, what has not already
Been well said about that?

I am listening
To the punk squelching
Of Patti Smith, wriggling
In her tender agonies,
On a filthy stage on
The Bowery thirty-four
Long years ago.

The heat has kicked on, and
A manufactured comfort
Swirls up from the registers.
It is not the wind moving
Outside that I think I hear.

In the slick pages of
The newest New Yorker,
Something has pushed
Up through the hard soil.
And I find myself living
The dying of John Updike.

The last of his poems have
Lain down before me,
Heads reclined into the
Posed configuration of
A treacherous peace,
Their toes pointed upward
Toward ambiguous perpetuity.

I would have to say that
He was not so much unlike
Any of us, we who have been
Fated to finally become
The likeness of one another.

We believe what we
Cannot understand and,
We know that we will go,
Just as we came:
Alone, wondering, and
Empty handed.

by Daniel Thomas Moran

Other poems of MORAN (23)

Comments (3)

I had to return, to read this one once more. Like the words from Updike himself, this poem has a nearly sensual power in the way it can turn a human heart to look upon itself anew. I do like this poem so very much.
I may be one of the few people who like Updike's poetry even better than his fiction - though I am immensely grateful for both. What I like so much about this tribute is that I think Updike himself would like it, too. Indeed, it sounds just a bit like Updike himself. This whole poem captures the seriousness of Updike's recurring themes, always with just a slight hint of lightness: the setting in March, the memory of Patti Smith, the heat registers like the sound of the wind. But especially the lines - We believe what we / Cannot understand... - recall both the tentativeness and the absoluteness of Updike's vision. Perhaps my favorite of all Updike's poems, Seven Stanzas for Easter, seems right this Easter as it always does. I'm pleased I found this poem of Moran's on Easter Sunday. Thank you, thank you. I would have to say that He was not so much unlike Any of us, we who have been Fated to finally become The likeness of one another.
There is a beautiful depth of pathos in these words; a treat to read.