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Updike

Snap me up in your jaws and run off with me to join the shades of this world without souls. But if you try to devour me or plant a tree of fear inside me, I'll laugh at you.

 

 


A tribute penned on hearing the news of Updike's death.
           
Good heavens, what kind of mortality was created for us? For me, and you too, Updike, whom I used to regard as a special envoy of immortality.
            Your image lies before me on fresh green lawn, in the shade of sun-drenched mountains. I reach out and feel your contours. I lay my feverish hand on your chest as if to ask Are you still alive?
            Am I disappointed? Cheated out of something? You vulture! You're a statesman of estates, a robber baron dressed in bright light.
            And you'll never have a more devoted, more faithful follower than I, my dear friend.
            Now I must betray a secret to you: Those who invested you with floodlight in your life were the false agents of putrefying time.
            Look at me!
            I preach a different prophecy before your spiritual body laid out here on the lawn.
            Power, in the sense of possessing, is only a mirage. But what am I doing, explaining the force of an aroused Viking warrior to you my dear friend, to you, you blood-splattering will power?
            Snap me up in your jaws and run off with me to join the shades of this world without souls. But if you try to devour me or plant a tree of fear inside me, I'll laugh at you.
            Why me, of all people? Good heavens!
            Instead, come with me to the airport and let's greet there the grandchild arriving from Dallas. There's a plane flitting across the delirious sky and on the blue of your eye, spreading fog as it flies on it belly. What if it were to explode, scattering slivers of love?
            My dear friend, you've deceived me!
            You left me here in my Barbados  solitude where even the Concord no longer flies. And yet  I would so much like to take a ride on the New York subway, traveling with you in the company of that wondrous creature, that slender girl who almost invites a man to reach under her dress, slither a hand in her pants and extend a finger between her moist, warm thighs, shouting:
            How magnificent she tastes!
            Don't you still smell the scent of life?

 


(Translated from the Hungarian by Paul Sohar)