reel life

this happens 
on a street
I’ve never knowingly known before 
with my spirit down distracted 
and paying no heed 
a small man walks towards us
us being – should you care –
a Romanian surrealist photographer
a young French woman artist-musician
two English writers

how odd I think
to see somebody I know on this street
he catches my eye as I catch his
and something flashes across his face
this happens to the famous
I’ve learned in my anonymous life
it’s that look which silently says
yes – I am who you think I am

and then I remember
I don’t know this man
but I know his face
I can’t remember his name
but I can hear his voice
so how can it be
that he’s so familiar?
I’m in Paris not at home
I’m in a trance in France
on my own

he’s small and middle-aged
he’s quite ugly shall we say
he’s dressed down
not dressed up
but he knows
I know his mug
and I do
and now I know why:
I’ve seen him on screen
by the Seine
at night
with a beautiful girl

I tell the lovely artist-musician
the name of the film
she remembers this man
she remembers his name
she agrees he’s quite ugly
she agrees he’s really small
she agrees with me that…..
well – he’s a film star
what more is there to say?

and it’s true
there is nothing more to say
except that
just like him
we all star
in the movie
which is our life


Jeff Cloves, Paris 2009

The film star is Denis Lavant whom I first saw in Léos Carax’s film
Les Amants du Pont Neuf (1991). He co-starred with Juliette Binoche
and it’s his young/old face which has stayed with me ever since it seems.
I was visiting Paris for the exhibition and the celebration of the life 
of the great poet and screen writer Jacques Prévert at the Hotel de Ville.

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