Déjà Vu

By Peter Halstead

Was that a bus?
Its receding number indicates
It certainly was;
Although in slightly altered states,

It passed us by,
The opposite of momentous,
By which the fates imply
Things are not so compos mentis

With us, or rather me,
As it might appear,
Quite invisibly,
That you’re not exactly here,

Although I hear you,
Feel you, touch your hand—
In the final view
I’m in no man’s land,

Where the traffic rolls unseen
And scenarios develop holes,
Where panoramas are too clean
And the absent-minded lose their souls—

I know that bus exists,
And that forces just beyond me move it:
I suspect that time can turn in twists,
And your return will prove it.


When Cathy is gone, all hell breaks loose. I walk into walls, misplace things, break other things, forget to eat, get sick, and, like a dog, the only words that register are her calls. I’m nearly sixty, but I act like I’m sixteen and trapped in a rock ballad. Alone at the iMac. If she loses patience, she never shows it. Noblesse oblige even towards her sniffling spouse.

And while I painstakingly clean up the kitchen for the plumber, moving confusedly, eyes, shoulder, and throat contributing to the general fog, Cathy juggles, negotiates, radiates, soothes, settles the conflicts of twenty people.

I was reminded by all of this of Auden’s poem, “Who’s Who”:

With all his honours on, he sighed for one
Who, say astonished critics, lived at home;
Did little jobs about the house with skill
And nothing else; could whistle; would sit still...

as well as Wilbur’s “Complaint”:

O maiden, muse, and maiden, O my love
Whose every moment is the quick of time,
I am your bumbling servant now and ever,
In this and the other kingdom.

This is my own version of pottering about, “fiddling with pieces of string,” as Auden describes love in “O Tell Me the Truth About Love.” My own string theory about parallel universes, where people can be with us when they’re not there, if we wish hard enough: a scientific version of saving Tinkerbell.

Rue de Varenne
February 4th, 2005