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Perfection Wasted

On Monday a coworker lost her father.  They had to decide when to let him go.  It’s a choice I can’t imagine making. I came across this poem on the Poetry Dispatch blog after John Updike died. It seemed to fit.

Perfection Wasted

by John Updike

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market-
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That’s it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren’t the same.

[from Collected Poems 1953-1993, Knopf, 1993]
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