Stoic delicacy

Hiroshi Sugimoto, from the Seascapes series


With what stoic delicacy does
Virginia creeper let go:
the feeblest tug brings down
a sheaf of leaves kite-high,
as if to say, To live is good
but not to live–to be pulled down
with scarce a ripping sound,
still flourishing, still
stretching toward the sun–
is good also, all photosynthesis
abandoned, quite quits. Next spring
the hairy rootlets left unpulled
snake out a leafy afterlife
up that same smooth-barked oak.

John Updike

Lily's grandfather died yesterday, with the same stoic delicacy described in this poem. And I still see him breathing life into her–the same love of music, the same quiet strength. I wish they could have had more time together, to do all the things they loved to do together–baking bread, playing the piano, harvesting vegetables in the garden. He was a good person, and I have lost my second father. For me, from now on spring will always be tinged with a sense of desolation and sorrow of loss. Something has gone out of the landscape forever.

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