One of the few persons I know who can improve the work of John Updike …
My favorite storyteller, Ted Estess (former dean of The Honors College at the University of Houston – and my former boss), just gave a heartfelt reading of Updike’s poem ’Perfection Wasted’ with a re-worked title, ‘Performance Perfected,’ in celebration of the life of a dear, mutual friend (and actress and fellow Updike reader):
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 tears confused with their diamond earrings
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.
– John Updike