A man and woman say “I love you” while looking into each other’s eyes.
It isn’t her lover the woman sees but the beholding of herself in her lover’s gaze— “I am loved” visible in the relief spread across her face.
In the next episode, it’s discovered the man has cheated.
He asks for forgiveness by demanding it, apologizes, arguing that love is a return to a shared destiny.
For the man, love exists outside human behavior, particularly his own.
The woman isn’t buying it.
Here a pause in the conversation is a seam flowing between them.
What the man doesn’t know is that there is no is, only was.
Now the woman sees that having seen herself being seen as love’s object was erasure of loved other.
A space encountered as being-in-love, it was a first step into the abyss of her heart.
Do we know the relationship is doomed because she returns his gaze or because she doesn’t?
The question becomes its own narrative.
Love, the woman finds, is a language of pauses, stutters, glances, etc., even the ones that have failed to transpire.
If one wants love, she says by her leaving him in a mortuary parking lot, one must accept that it never existed.
Only when one sees one has never loved can that person visualize its shady lanes and endlessly deferred groves.
After years of drifting, a man comes home to find his father in a vegetative state.
One day he wheels his father into an open field.
Is this the field where he was brought to play as a child?
Do memories attach to landscape or does the land displace remembrance?
It’s magic hour and they overlook a body of water the man is unable to notice.
There’s a hint of confession in his posture.
But there’s a sense confession is futile or that there’s nothing to confess.
This nothing is filled with something, and this something is filled with downward glances, choked-back sentiment, etc.
His words cut through the image.
“I’m trying to imagine your half of the conversation,” the man says with the knowledge he’s speaking to an object carrying only the appearance of his father.
This knowledge is visible as a failure of relating, and the image is felt as recursive distance between them.
When the man speaks, it cuts to a shot of his father’s expressionless face.
It’s a face without thought, emotion, time, depth.
I wonder if the man feels his father’s “gaze” as the loss of his father’s gaze. Now the light is leaving the sky.
The man tries to locate his father in his father’s face.
He shrugs, fidgets, rearranges as if to escape his corporeality.
This makes his paralysis more pronounced as he moves his eyes over a body of water no longer visible in the dark.
A man tells his story.
He is the living consequence not of the events he describes, the filmmaker suggests, but of the failure of his testimony to articulate that experience.
Stopping his camera at chimney crack or stand of pine, the director approaches and reapproaches the structures at the heart of his subject.
But we’ve grown tired of such well-made silences.
What lives between “I am looking for a man” and “I am looking at him” dies in the gaping humility of the frame.
Mounting the image as negative space, it resolves here and there into a white-haired man on a sofa in some European capitol, early 1980s.
Cutting now to a railcar pushing through unsinister Polish countryside.
Now to a rabbit jumping through a perimeter fence barbed as Winter 1941.
Adam Fagin‘s poems have appeared in Boston Review, Fence, VOLT, and other places. He has a chapbook out from Little Red Leaves called T’s Alphabet. Another chapbook, THE SKY IS A HOWLING WILDERNESS BUT IT CAN’T HOWL WITH HEAVEN, will be out soon from Called Back Books.