Endpoint and Other Poems by John Updike
In Poetry on May 7, 2009 at 6:02 pm
Think what you will about John Updike (that he was sexist, a chauvinist even), but it remains that he was a writer with quite a bit of living in his bag. Sure he makes old-man notes about the changing world, he mockingly blames Monica for her stint with Bill, but he also reflects gently on the cycle of age. He remembers being lost as a child, and suggests that it is inevitable to return to that feeling, though it becomes more familiar. He ponders culture and nature—his 75-year-old skin and how people look at it. He mourns the loss of the milkman, the iceman, candy stores, doo-wop stars, and neighborly waves. In these conversational poems, Updike “scratches his inconclusive odes to death,” he marks moments, days, and wonders about ends. When you’re old, and looking forward only means seeing an end, small things stand out: the early-morning sounds of the Boston train, Virginia creeper, naked Connecticut trees, needles, glands, stiff hands. At the end, Updike wonders about his characters, their ends, and what he’s learned about his own life through writing their deaths. Birthday, Death-day…what day is not both?