To Two of My Characters

To Two of My Characters Poem By John Updike

Emily, as I entered a real greenhouse,
I feared I failed to do you justice, to see
with Teddy’s eyes, to smell as he would have
the cyclamens, the mums, the pithy tilth
and near-obscene sweet richness of it all,

which he ascribed to you, despite
your gimpy leg and spiky manner—
you were his hothouse houri, dizzying.

And Essie, did I make it clear enough
just how your face combined the Wilmot cool
precision, the clean Presbyterian cut,

hellbent on election, with the something
soft your mother brought to the blend, the petals
of her willing to unfold at a touch?

I wanted you to be beautiful, the both of you,
and, here among real flowers, fear I failed.

Happy Wednesday Wish & Maessages

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