IN PRAISE OF (C10 H8 O4)n
~ by John Updike
“I have worn the same terylene tie every day for
eighteen months.” ~ Kenneth Hutton, chemist
My tie is made of terylene,
Eternally I wear it.
For time can never wither, stale,
Shred, shrink, fray, fade, or tear it.
The storms of January fail
To loosen it with bluster.
The rains of April fail to stain
Its polyester lustre.
October’s frost falls futilely.
December’s snow can blow and blow,
My tie remains acutely
Immutable! When I’m below
Dissolving in that halcyon
Retort, my carbohydrates shed
From my frame of calcium,
When I am, in lay language, dead,
Across my crumbling sternum
Shall lie a spanking fresh cravat
Unsullied ad aeternum,
A grave and solemn prospect that
Makes light of our alloted
Three score ten, for terylene
Shall never be unknotted.
John Updike alludes to “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety” from William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, Act Two, Scene Two.