About the Poem
About the poet
Alistair Paterson (ONZM) is one of New Zealand’s leading poets, editors and literary thinkers....
Pas de deux
Pas de deux
(après Paul-Louis Rossi)
It happens - well most of it - en passant:
a marginal glance, a peripheral word
that means little or nothing - & everything -
that’s caught by eye or ear, is captured
as if on tape or by a camera’s lens,
is cemented into ganglia & synapse, is
seen, remembered, heard again, slides
unexpectedly into focus -
a woman waving from a window ...
Sometimes it’s a train that’s passing,
a bus, an unseen pianist practising
something of Beethoven, Schopin, Liszt
- one of the masters - a fragment, an event
from ten years back vaguely recollected,
drifting across an overgrown driveway:
the night sky, water under willows
a particular occasion -
your name scratched in sand ...
then, the absolute, the complete moment
that seems at first unfamiliar,
disembodied, to have no substance,
no location, to be shadow without
structure, shape without form
that appears from nowhere -
becomes unexpectedly &
immediately recognisable ...
‘Pas de deux’, from Summer in the Cote D’Azur (HeadworX, 2003), © Alistair Paterson 2003, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004