A Poem by John Updike

Does anyone but me ever wonder

where these old doo-wop stars you see

in purple tuxedos with mauve lapels

on public-television marathons

have been between the distant time when they

recorded their hit (usually only one, one huge one,

that being the nature of doo-wop)

and now, when, bathed in limelight and applause,

the intact group re-sings it, just like then?

They have aged with dignity, these men,

usually black, their gray hairdos still conked,

their up-from-the-choir baby faces lined

with wrinkles now, their spectacles a-glimmer

upon their twinkling eyeballs as they hit

the old falsetto notes and thrum-de-hums,

like needles dropped into a groove,

the groove in which both they and we are young again,

the silent years skipped over. 

Who knows what two-bit gigs and muddled post-midnights

they bided their time in? And when at last

the agitated agent’s call came through— 

the doo-wop generation old enough

and rich enough by now to woo again,

on worthy telethons this time around,

nostalgia generating pledges—why

was not a weathered man of the quartet

deceased or otherwise impaired? How have

they done it, come out whole the other side,

how did they do it, do it still, still doo?