Bindweed

(2003)

"Bindweed" is the third song of Paul Salerni's Flora, which sets five poems of John Updike.

Bindweed
by John Updike


Intelligence does help, sometimes;
the bindweed doesn't know
when it begins to climb a wand of grass
that this is no tree and will shortly bend
its flourishing dependent back to earth.


But bindweed has a trick: self-
stiffening, entwining two- or three-ply,
to boost itself up, into the lilac.


Without much forethought it manages
to imitate the lilac leaves and lose
itself to all but the avidest clippers.


To spy it out, to clip near the root
and unwind the climbing tight spiral
with a motion the reverse of its own
feels like treachery--death to a plotter
whose intelligence mirrors ours, twist for twist.


--John Updike: Collected Poems 1953-1993, p. 245


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