He broke in, picking the lock, or having stolen a key, and he knew the code to disarm the alarm, some homeless guy, a crazy street-person, harmless you’d think, but you’re wrong: he likes it here, and he stays. He rummages through my closets and dresser drawers and tries on my clothing, which happens, of course, to fit him. He runs my comb through his hair. He uses my toothbrush. He lies down on my side of the bed for a nap. He has settled in. In the mornings, he sits at my place and has his coffee and toast, reading my paper. He borrows my car and drives to meet my classes; during my office hours he meets with my students. We don’t look at all alike, but he’s living my life. I try to signal my friends with whom he dines or my wife with whom he is sleeping: "This isn’t me. He’s an impostor. How can you not have noticed? He’s old! He’s nasty. Also, he’s clearly crazy! How can he fool you this way? And how can you stand him?" They pay me no mind, pretending not to have noticed. Could they somehow be in on this together? But what is his purpose? Was he also displaced from apartment, job, and wife? Did that turn him desperate? And must I go out now myself to find a victim, break into his house, and begin living his life?
David R. Slavitt - 1935-
The one-way flow of time we take for granted, but what if the valve is defective? What if the threads on the stem wear thin, or the stuffing box or the bonnet ring leaks, or the joints to the pipe ring fail, and there's a backwash? It happens. And then old loves, meeting again, have no idea what to do, resuming or not resuming from where they were years before. Or the dead come back to chat. Or you are reduced for a giddy moment to childhood's innocent incompetence. You look up as if to see some hint in the sky's blackboard. But then, whatever it was, some fluff or grit that clogged the works, works free, and again time passes, almost as before, and you try to get on with your life.