The Oxford Dictionary defines a “doppelganger” as ‘An apparition or double of a living person’. There’s an interesting article on the BBC here
I also found this rather strange website where you can register your details and find your very own ‘twin stranger’.
I have my very own twin who I’m often mistaken for, so it’s not that I long for a doppelganger.
But I’ve been fascinated by them since I heard a story from a friend about visiting a concentration camp, looking at the pictures on the wall of the victims who were murdered, and seeing a photo of a student that my friend taught. My friend said it wasn’t a lookalike, it was his student, staring out from many years ago, from a horrific time in history.
And there are other names for doppelgangers – a ‘spirit double’, a ‘fetch’, a ‘firstcomer’.
So this is my doppelganger poem, my own private haunting, and one of the first poems I wrote in the sequence, examining an experience which led to me finally being forced to think about something I hadn’t thought about for ten years, something I hadn’t told anyone about for ten years, a ‘fetch’ that dragged me back to the past.
It was you, the set of your shoulders, your way
of standing, your arms folded across your chest,
your belly a small hill, it was you, it was you,
your hair dark and shaved, your skin brown
from the sun. I turned on my heel and went
back into the classroom and sank to my knees
behind the door and I prayed you away,
to a God I’d never spoken to before,
I wished you away like a child. I looked again
and again through the darkened glass,
it was you, but it was not you. Your soul
had entered this man, his eyes and his hands
were yours, it was you, I could swear it
on anything you named, if I stopped looking
it would always be you. So I looked
and I looked till my eyes burned from
not blinking and I watched him walk away.
Your soul left his body as if it had
never been there and all that was left
of you was a taste of smoke in the air.