Déjà Vu

By Carmen Giménez Smith b. 1971 Carmen Gimenez Smith
It happened to me once.
Winter came, and snow quilted every inch.
I stood on the soapbox, as I was told,
and made staggering accusations. The public ignored,
so I retreated behind the potted yew.
I was waiting for a moment I was supposed to have

on a balcony overlooking the giant, gridded landscape.
The sounds I made underscored what I meant.
The potted yew was the face that I wore.
It was a metaphor for what could be.
The public endured.
I put the potted yew behind me. I made staggering an art.

That wasn’t the truth though. Winter
comes and negates all it covers. It doesn’t matter where I stand.
The balcony is a floor without walls.
The yew is a hurt that shadows.
The instance lives beneath us. Not just us, everybody.

The shadow hurts us. I make sounds like
the truth. Fate and theft are involved.
I think I told you this before. The floor is a wall that obscures.
The yew is quilt without color. Shadow is a fate you involved.
The yew on a balcony negates. I told you this before.
I was left undone. It’s what I meant. Underneath everyone.

Carmen Giménez Smith, “Déjà Vu” from Odalisque in Pieces. Copyright © 2009 by Carmen Gimenez Smith. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: Odalisque in Pieces (University of Arizona Press, 2009)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Carmen Giménez Smith b. 1971

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Nature, Winter, Trees & Flowers, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

 Carmen  Giménez Smith


Born in New York, poet Carmen Giménez Smith earned a BA in English from San Jose State University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa. She writes lyric essays as well as poetry, and is the author of the poetry chapbook Casanova Variations (2009), the full-length collection Odalisque in Pieces (2009), and the memoir Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else (2010). Her most . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Nature, Winter, Trees & Flowers, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.