If you're too polite it just confuses things
I thought as I stepped into the gallery.
I don't know what Drew Barrymore was thinking
as she waited to step out (I should admit
I hadn't recognized her, which is funny
because I usually scan strangers' faces,
a habit that makes me a target of choice
for con-men and all sorts of lonesome-eyed strays).
When John came in, after waiting politely,
he told me, and we turned to watch her walking
away in that grainy angelino light
filtered by seaspray and smog (that's John Culbert),
then we went in to look at the collection:
a father was teaching his son to discern
a genetically transmitted nose profile;
I lingered in front of the photo-portraits
taken in plangent, twilit petrol stations.
But dwelling on gaffes can be self-important,
I thought as I stepped out into the evening's
enormous slow performance, and there under
a burgundy hat was Dina Al-Kassim.