To A Former Mistress, Now Dead
To A Former Mistress,
Now Dead
Dear X, you wouldn't believe how curious
my eyebrows have become --- jagged gray wands
have intermixed with the reddish-brown, and poke
up toward the sun and down into my eye.
It hurts, a self-caress that brings tears
and blurred vision. Aches and pains! The other day
my neck was so stiff I couldn't turn my head
to parallel-park; another man
would have trusted his mirrors, but not I;
I had the illusion something might interpose
between reality and its reflection, as happened with us.

The aging smell, X --- a rank small breeze wafts upward
when I shed my underwear. My potency,
which you would smilingly complain about,
has become as furtive as an early mammal.
My hair shows white in photographs, although
the barber's clippings still hold some brown.
At times I catch myself making that loose mouth
old people make, as if one's teeth don't fit,
without being false. You're well out of it ---
I tell you this mentally, while shaving
or putting myself to bed, but it's a lie.

© 1992, John Updike

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