I’m sure you all know by now that John Updike has died; I grew impatient in recent years with his ubiquitous, endlessly fluent and charming reviews and essays that said nothing much in particular, but at his best he was a superb writer of novels and short stories, and quite a decent poet as well. Here’s a poem from Americana:
Today I wrote some words that will see print.
Maybe they will last “forever” in that
someone will read them, their ink making
a light scratch on his mind, or hers.
I think back with greater satisfaction
upon a yellow bird—a goldfinch?—
that had flown into the garden shed
and could not get out,
battering its wings on the deceptive light
of the dusty, warped-shut window.
Without much reflection for once, I stepped
to where its panicked heart
was making commotion, the flared wings drumming,
and with clumsy soft hands
pinned it against a pane, held loosely cupped
this agitated essence of the air,
and through the open door released it,
like a self-flung ball,
to all that lovely, perishing outdoors.