Guest poem submitted by Vikram Doctor , as part of the theme "Poetry at Work":
(Poem #538) Back From Vacation
"Back from vacation", the barber announces, or the postman, or the girl at the drugstore, now tan. They are amazed to find the workaday world still in place, their absence having slipped no cogs, their customers having hardly missed them, and there being so sparse an audience to tell of the wonders, the pyramids they have seen, the silken warm seas, the nighttimes of marimbas, the purchases achieved in foreign languages, the beggars, the flies, the hotel luxury, the grandeur of marble cities. But at Customs the humdrum pressed its claims. Gray days clicked shut around them; the yoke still fit, warm as if never shucked. The world is still so small, the evidence says, though their hearts cry, "Not so!"
From 'For A Living: The Poetry of Work', ed. Nicholas Coles and Peter Oresick. As in nearly anything he writes, Updike is elegant and skilful. We've all felt the way he does; coming back after a holiday, our minds expanded, our day to day world then seems so questionable and small. I must admit that most of my job shifts tend to have followed holidays abroad, though I hope my boss never reads this or I'd probably never get leave! Another angle on the poem: I don't know where it was first published, but it seems such a quintessentially magazine poem. You know what I mean - those neat, not too long poems printed in magazines like the New Yorker. I suppose its silly to think of them as a class of poems in themselves, but they seem to share qualities: of being brevity and usually they tend to be mostly descriptive, with a neat thought slipped in at the end, like this. If that sounds condescending, it's not meant to be. I like reading poems like that, small crunchy croutons threwn into larger stews of prose. Vikram.