back ~ home ~ up ~ next


Déjà Vu


Autumn debris was laid out on the walk

Like a garish rug.  The trees weren't merely red.

But paper leaves adorned the blackboard's edge

With red alone, as if the whole fall scene

Were judged to be some treacherous romance.

Behind the door, a woman stood and smiled

Toward the small cupboard open for the coats.

The mothers' lipsticked mouths persuaded new

Miniature suits and dresses to sit still

On the gray rug, beneath the flag, beside

The piano.  Teacher played a tune and sang.

The children cried, or sang.  The mothers left.

The new girl hid beneath the desk till noon.


But now it isn't autumn.  Winter's here.

Now Teacher has been buried thirty years,

The decades spent like afternoons at home.

White paper snowflakes pinned to robes bear names

Outdated as the names of cars they rode in—

Packard, or Hudson—traded in for chairs

With wheels their hands are not advised to try.

The one who hid beneath the desk rolls in,

The new girl one last time, in a gown that is

Only white, as the snow is only white.

She stares at rows of faces that transmit

Nothing:  here is the piano but no song.

Her daughter's lipsticked mouth says something . . . what?

The nurse is bringing blankets.  Winter's long.


Joshua Mehigan



© 1997; originally printed in Cumberland Poetry Review.
Reprinted by permission of the author.


back ~ home ~ up ~ next