Monday, October 24, 2011

Midlife Crisis

I've been going through a mid-life crisis of sorts.  For a few years now I've been trying to locate a first edition copy of John Updike's Midpoint and Other Poems, a book he published in 1969 to mark what he considered the "midpoint" of his existence.  Two weeks ago I located a first edition that had been released from the Cadillac-Wexford Public Library in Cadillac, Michigan.

It's fine copy, and still contains the library card inside the book cover, where I note that my copy was only checked out 5 times: July 26, 1969, June 6, 1970, May 1, 1971, and January 10 & May 2, 1973.

Midpoint contains Updike's longest poem: a 41-page poetic/photographic retrospective of his life, written when he was likely 35 years old.  The rest of the volume contains some of his best poems, along with a fair amount of light verse--which was typical of Updike's dichotomy in that he wrote poems of both serious and humorous bent.

I won't quote Updike here, but I'll offer my own rendition of a Mid-life reflection.

When I Was a Younger Man

I once could lift the cow and eat
It afterwards--ribeye and pan--
And run a mile or two complete
When I was a younger man.

My back was trap and lat and delt,
My waist was six-pack, firm and tan,
I squatted with a lifter's belt
When I was a younger man.

My wife did not look back and yearn
For when those younger days began;
We lived life then as moments burned,
When I was a younger man.

And now to get the body back
I shorten my attention span
Still hoping I might yet hijack
A scrap of my younger man.

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