Requiem

Why is there so much despondency with old age? An urge to go back in time and edit one’s decisions? A feeling of lack of appreciation? Of irrelevance? Or the increasing physical constraints of age?

It came to me the other day:
Were I to die, no one would say,
“Oh, what a shame! So young, so full
Of promise — depths unplumbable!”

Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes
Will greet my overdue demise;
The wide response will be, I know,
“I thought he died a while ago.”

For life’s a shabby subterfuge,
And death is real, and dark, and huge.
The shock of it will register
Nowhere but where it will occur.

From: Endpoint and Other Poems by John Updike

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