CONUNDRUM


That we know ourselves by what we say and do is obvious.

Or in the way we lay a table, chop an apple, hang clothes or not

                                                                                              before we sleep

And it's obvious, too, that such knowledge must include:

the birthmark on an inner thigh, mouse-shaped, small;

a jagged lifeline on a left hand, fingerprints, the iris pattern of an eye.

Or in the way one scuffed shoe slants to nothing at the heel;

and in the exact marks of our feet before waves slur the sand.


These are ways we seem fixed. But what about the self

                                                                                   in a photograph?

The one we look at, intermittently, across our lives;

a shy child in a new pair of dungarees, now faded,

not looking at the camera or a life ahead;

someone we would never recognise as us,

though that's precisely who it is.

And who is that always leaves a drawer half-opened,

tilting down to show off what's inside:

a matted brush, blunt scissors, rusted key,

to tell about another self - someone, today,

                                                           we can't remember ever was?


And who is it that looks in mirrors over years?

Like the familiar person in a dream - the one you cannot name -

who does the things you would and who,  like you shuffles by the sea,

stares back, smiles all the same.  Then slips. effortlessly,

into, not obviously, a stranger,

                                                but simply someone else?