Anne De Gelas: L’amoureuse

Anne De Gelas is a Belgian artist and photographer. She studied photography at the Ecole Supérieure des Arts de l’image, and since 1994 has been exhibiting work in highly personal shows. Le Caillou Bleu published a book of her work, L’Amoureuse, in 2013. Her most recent series is ‘Mère et fils’.

Belgium –

An (almost) perfect day – 4th April 2010

Max comes to wake us up quite early,

he’s there at the end of the bed, talking loudly

the Easter bells have rung

T stays in bed

he’s cold I take a blanket out of the wardrobe to warm him up,

it smells of dust

I don’t remember what colour the sky was

or the time, or what we had for breakfast

as usual, Max talks to me, he tends to ignore his father, who had joined us at the seaside the night before, while Max was asleep

Still up at ten-thirty, my face pressed to the window, I scan the seawall

Cold, wind – emptiness, the noise of waves breaking

I see him muffled up in his thick hooded coat

my heart lights up, he smiles,

I make childish little noise as I stand there

I’m in love

Max knows that T won’t leap out of bed like I do

we were cold last night, we slept entwined,

almost one on top of the other, in the join where the twin beds were pushed together

seeking each other’s warmth

when T gets up, Max and I put away the Lego, he has his breakfast…

he’s pulled the inside out of his roll

that soft bread that he calls “stodge” to make me laugh

I forgot to bring his little coffee machine… he doesn’t like coffee from the percolator

he drinks his coffee next to us

I say it’s a fine day, already  calm, he looks at the sea

I don’t remember looking at the sea, I see him next to us

he doesn’t pay much attention to what we’re doing,

doesn’t take part in any way

“HE LOOKS AT US” he savours us

Max shows him his presents, the books too …

they don’t say much to each other, they have their own special way of communicating

in a private place where I have never been

their relationship is made up of silences too

they touch a lot

of course we then take time to get dressed

Max isn’t in a hurry to go out …

they read one of the new books “my invisible friend”, I think …

it’s cold, we walk on the beach … huddled together

T forgot his hat

the wind is freezing, they collect shells … the two of them

I watch them – Max runs on – we walk arm in arm

Max wants to stop by the breakwater and search the tide pools for angels’ wings … perhaps watch some crabs …

too bitterly cold, going back to the seawall

he wants to play on the climbing frame

T and I look for somewhere sheltered, but there’s nowhere

we sit on a bench, fully exposed to the cold wind

I’m sheltered by T’s body, protected from the wind

I remember the little kisses, birdlike pecks

we go into the shop selling children’s clothing

choose some sandals – Max doesn’t want to stay, he’s terrible … joyful

we stop to get something for lunch – something special

stop to show T a t-shirt I found for Max

he likes it, I’ll buy it … the shop’s shut … for lunch? Sunday?

I bought it

at Boon’s I’m undecided between two sorts of olive preserve

the Lucques, the gold medal ones or the little black ones from Provence!

green for Max, little black ones for T

I take both, I don’t want to disappoint him

aware that it matters to him what I choose, he tests me

‘me or our son’

he buys sea salt … some herbs, I think …

he’s going to make a salad for my mother, she loves his delicious salads

we go back holding hands all the way

an unhurried aperitif ? T cooks, I love … watching him so concentrated

completely taken up with giving us pleasure

has he used the new pepper mill I bought with him in mind ?

Mother says he did, he was pleased with it

did I hug him enough

at table he announces happily that he can stay till Thursday

he loves his new job, he’s full of ideas

he says that people come to the wine bar just for him

because they appreciate him, it’s important for him to be appreciated

people love him

if he stays it’s going to cost me more money, I’m a bit worried about that …

we’re broke

he loves spending, eating well, something special each day

I love to please him, can’t resist his enthusiasm

above all I think of the calm that will spread over his face

clouded with worry

the frown line will disappear

he always relaxes as soon as he gets to the seaside

and tans easily, Max has inherited his complexion … fine weather is forecast

T lies down to rest after lunch, as he always does by the sea,

he feels a bit cold – I cover him up

Max settles down beside him with his new toys

T loves listening to his son immersed in his imaginary world

right beside him

I leave them there

happy to think of them together in their own perfect bubble

Max will later say that his father didn’t feel well

that he meant to tell us

but that when he saw his toys in the living room

he was distracted

T often suffers from bouts of sickness

we walked down to the beach, leaving him to rest

did I kiss him before I went out

yes, of course, as always

on his eyelids

his fragile eyelids, tinged with mauve

I often said ‘the first thing I fell in love with was your eyelids’

I pulled up the blanket too, he was cold

I must have said too ‘I love you, my darling’

softly, deeply into the turmoil

always emotional

on the beach, Max chooses to build his castle

too far from the sea

it’s a long way down to the water

the tide comes in fast

I looked up between the spades

and saw you appear from between two beach huts

I see you still

in your thick black cardigan with the pointed hood

I love the way you look – more than I can say

you’re handsome, stylish, a man of integrity

the man I love

the man I’ve waited for all my life

you come nearer between the two images there is a whiteness

the whiteness of your walk

the white foam on the water that ripples over your path to the sandcastle

I take your face between my hands,

I still feel your lips on mine

That sweet, mutual movement of union

you say ‘I’m cold’

I answer ‘go straight home and get a coat’

I turn round to pick up my spade

out of the corner of my eye I see

your dark shape falling

I turn you over in the sand

your face buried in the soft sand

they said ‘diagnosis of the vital signs is very bad’

I spent the night telling you I loved you

kissing you


looking at you and smiling

still happy to be at your side

impossible to comprehend death



L’Amoureuse by Anne De Gelas and published by Le Caillou Bleu is a book about loss. It’s moving and heartfelt but also has a determination and hardness about it; the determination to confront unexpected and tragic loss, to be angry about it, to hate it, to accept it, to build it into one’s life story and be able to move on to a place where the pain and anger is tinged with affection and love.” – Colin Pantall 


Written and Photography by: Anne De Gelas 

Published by: Le Caillou Bleu

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