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In a Northern city, suddenly
Thought I recognized the tilt of his shoulder,
hands in both coat pockets,
and the cleft of his chin as he turned
blankly towards my radial gaze.

This happens to older travellers,
footsteps muted in foreign towns
where natives tread their stable streets
while strangers trace resemblances.

There are people visiting the Karoo
who claim it’s just like Montana,
and in southern Ontario
find Transvaal shrubs and rocks.

And here in New York, seeing my father
wearing his old greatcoat,
head down, preoccupied as usual,
I wondered what he was up to.

But it wasn’t him, couldn’t have been.
This isn’t the place, the time,
isn’t even the hemisphere:
here I know no one’s shoulder.

And he’s meant to be dead,
not in northern time and space,
turning up here alone,
avoiding my glance again.