faces are not snowflakes
in every one a thousand lives
He reminds me of so-and-so
you say, and capture the essence of the idea.
I have seen that one in a pulpit, on a bicycle in France, selling raffle tickets at the mall, untying his running shoes beside me at our lockers in high school, pinning back the ears of a heckler from the stage at a political rally in Toronto, serving tables at a deli in Montréal, begging for a handout at the corner of Pitt and Second, drunkenly embarrassing his family at a riverside restaurant in Summerstown, on the cover of Life Magazine, holding his own opposite Humphrey Bogart in one of his crime dramas, giving the sermon in the nursing home’s little chapel today, reading the news on a grainy black-and-white television set in the commons room in my university residence—
you have seen him too,
but did you know him?
It is the eyes, I think.
The rest flashes layer on layer
flickering like a primitive cinema
flashcards with a thumb,
sketches on the corner of a page,
electric flashes leaping neurons
ganglia processing nano-charges,
layering memory with dreams
and pseudo-dreams that trick us,
sparks of recognition flicker
tick by, talk by, walk by.
Do I know you? Do you know me?
A detective knows more of this than I;
there are just so many faces,
so many master prints of DNA,
so many masks in the costume store:
we must go as this or that
and nothing more.
What does the mirror say,
and what does it mean?