..And For the Rest of Your Life

David Sullivan

I want to be there,
on set with Bogie, Bergman,
and the cardboard plane
propped up behind them—
so small they hired midgets to
play the mechanics—
I want to note each
botched line, catch bungled attempts
to light cigarettes.

Each time I replay
 Casablanca I look past
what I'm intended to—
the way I question
everyone's performance, knowing
how I put it on.
She turns from the plane
 What's happened to you? Last night . . .
Knowing she didn't know
who she'd wind up with
all through the shooting because
it wasn't written
makes me study her.
 What I've got to do you can't
be any part of.
And always, it's what
contradicts what's being said
that sears us awake.
Ilsa's eyes well up
with tears and I'm reminded
of when my son asked
my daughter to play
dead. She had to lie so still
he, with stethoscope,
couldn't find a beat.
When the video camera
I held, held her face
it revealed real tears.
She looked up at me, whispered:
I'm not dead. I'm not.

(Read Sullivan "Watching L'Avventura" in Issue Two.)