Friday, October 22, 2010

Parisian Poem

White Suit

She said one fall Sunday some years ago in Paris she was walking down rue Monsieur le Prince to an afternoon performance at the Od̩on and happened to pass a Chinese camera crew filming an actor dressed in a white suit bent intently over the gauges of a giant purple motorcycle parked at the curb. When the director shouted, White Suit sprang from the bike toward a heavy wooden door, his face a blaze of fury, though whether fueled by love or hate (or neither or both) she couldn't know. When the director shouted again, all White Suit's passion fell away and he walked back to his bike for another take. Passers-by were at first confused by the commotion, but then, when they had understood, would tuck a curl behind an ear, stand straighter, put on lipstick before passing in front of the camera. One man stopped to comb his hair. As if, she said, once they were aware of their imminent promotion from mere pedestrians to archetypal feature-film Parisians, they instinctively wanted to look their best. Which is to say, unlike they really did. And then it seemed to her that the taxis and the plane trees, the cobblestones and shop windows, even the smell of roasting chestnuts, were no longer themselves but postcards of themselves, movie versions of themselves, and meanwhile White Suit was directed to arrive again and again at his destiny Рwhere his girlfriend was a prisoner or his long-lost mother lay dying, where his nemesis was beating his best friend or a terrorist affixed a timer to a bomb Рbut was never allowed to cross the threshold, was made to try over and over in vain to be the thing he was but not yet well enough. And how was the play, he asked her. She stopped stirring and turned from the stove to face him. She said it was competent but dull. A stranger had propositioned her in the lobby at intermission and she had, for a moment, considered it.

from And So
by Joel Brouwer