Deja Vu

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We glimpse some common object
or catch a stray scent,
and we are hurled back,
arriving in our past
the same instant we are retrieved,
as if the mind,
noting the discrepancy,
corrects itself.

Memories are not snapshots
waiting for us in the brain’s dark folds.
We live them again,
one neuron sparking another
and another, the original band
reunited, setting a flimsy stage
on which we reappear.

This happens so fast
that sometimes we don’t know
where we went.
All we are given is the receipt:
a teasing brush of joy
we try to keep
and lose at once.

 

 

Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash

All At Once

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Most of the time our feelings are produced by our thoughts. We think of a person or situation, and our bodies respond with love, anger, fear, regret, despair, disgust—there’s no end to the places our minds can take us.

But sometimes the obverse is true. For just an instant, we are brushed by a fragment of memory. We pause, transfixed, thrilled not by the memory itself, which never coalesces, but by our closeness to it. We scramble after this phantom, try to fix it in time. Too late. It was gone as soon as it arrived, like the rainbow flash of an abalone shell before the dark waves rush over.

For me, these sensations occur most frequently in the spring, as if the earth, in her exuberance, is churning up my secrets along with her own, reminding me that nothing is lost. Akin to deja vu, this experience involves more certainty than suggestion. We are not stirred by a sense of the familiar but seized by our own lives, summoned to wakefulness. For a second or two, we exist in a portal, the distinction between past and present indiscernible. That fragment of memory was not an idle daydream; it was a clue, a means to the truth. We live all at once and probably forever.

Photo credit: Doreeno via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA