Monday, April 23, 2018

Quarter Life Poems: Strangers with Familiar Faces

Strangers with Familiar Faces

It is the last day of winter
and I am on an old pier
decorated with rust and peeling paint

The air tastes like frost and sea salt.

Underneath me
I see the reflection
of gently shifting clouds
in the gaps between
the wooden planks of the pier

A man walks past me
and stops to look back
an abrupt and jerky movement
common to a person startled by
decade old ghosts.

He says
"I was going to ask your name
because you look almost exactly
like a girl I use to love.
you couldn't be over the age of twenty."

and before I can tell him my name
or actual age
he walks past me
down the pier
to the inevitable end.

Years ago,
at a college party
in a small town in California
A women stared at me with the type of curiosity
used only by children and the intoxicated

My uneasy smiles
could not evade
her sad and wistful stares

Months later
we sit next to each other at a movie theater
before the previews began
she told me I look
almost exactly like her best friend from home
she frowned and said,
"but we had an argument
and haven't spoken in almost a year."

and when she stared at me
I could see for a moment
she convinced herself
that finding a stranger who looked like her friend
is almost like finding her friend
she wanted to reach over and grasp my hand
lightly squeeze it and feel me squeeze back
an affirmation that all is forgiven
that we can all start over again.

Her eyes refocus. She sighs.

The movie starts its triumphant arc
descending across a scape
of flashing lights and famous faces
When the movie ended, she left
without saying goodbye
or even glancing my way.

Somewhere in the world
is someone who looks almost exactly like me
and maybe she talks to strangers
in crowded movie theaters too
hoping she can reconstruct her past
by recasting her life
with strangers with familiar faces.

and somewhere else in the world
is a middle aged woman
who still stirs the heart
of a lonely man on a pier
her memory hiding in the face of a stranger
her existence recalled with one simple glance.

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