a film really – before my time

she sings he plays the piano
people look at her not him
is she beautiful can she sing?
they start and finish together
beyond that no one knows
or is prepared to say
saying only:
she has a certain something –
maybe it’s the way she puts them over….
without him she’d be nothing
somebody once proposed

they do not look at each other
she does not look at us
over our heads her gaze is vague
lately vaguer
fatigue or boredom
scores her forehead
her eyelids droop
her shoulders droop
her feet 
barely lift to the rhythm
at the piano his eyes
rarely lift from the keys
hitting the black notes absently
his big left-hand chords
holding back the beat
just enough

her repertoire is constant now
she has stopped 
announcing the numbers
with but the slightest pause between 
he leads in
song unfolding song:
Ten cents a dance….
Taking a chance on love….
Moonlight in Vermont….
I’m with you always 
body and soul….
her frail voice flutters
on the used-up air

tonight she turns to him just once
and mouths a word or two
he looks up blowing smoke
hits one note
surprised perhaps or simply
counting her in….two three four
she shakes back her hair
snaps her fingers at the lights
the tempo is faster than her habit:
somewhere there’s music
how faint the tune
somewhere there’s heaven
how high the moon….

this animation does not last
her wrists relax her feet fall still
yet something in her voice 
has changed
he looks up again
she does not see
eyes closed on him 
on us on everything
she is performing for herself it seems
her body here before us
but her soul elsewhere
how still my heart
she croons
how high the moon


Jeff Cloves
Illustration: Atlanta Wiggs



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2 Responses to a film really – before my time

    1. ear Atlanta Wiggs
      your pianist
      in his pork-pie hat
      is just right
      thanks v much
      Jeff Cloves

      Comment by jeff cloves on 22 August, 2020 at 9:16 am
    2. Thank you Jeff! I really was inspired by your work and loved producing this piece for it!

      Comment by Atlanta W on 24 August, 2020 at 1:26 pm

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