Callaloo 23.1 (2000) 174-185
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A Ho's Hieroglyphic
Part 1: In the Family
In the glam times, the good times, when I knew I was a god . . .
The lights of a City. Lights in the windows of the tall buildings, lights that glow like tiles on a vertical path to the lowermost clouds; lights from the cars that cruise by, that glow like animal eyes or like UFOs coming to land; the lights of convenience marts spilling out onto the littered walks; the lights of signs and of planes and of the bay reflecting the lights of the buildings and the few stars and the shifting moonlight limpid as a spring or oily, oily like the surface of a minestrone soup . . .
In these lights his face and his body make their appearance, the arrival of a beast or a god. I'm into the simple things. Like the bit of gel in his hair that blackens its blackness and makes the short-cropped crown over his forehead erect, and his pupils as black as his hair and as large as nickels. Oh, I always talk about lips--but, yes, his lips: the lower one, that's where I'll focus, like a cutting from the cup of a tulip, thickened and protruding: a gorgeous pout. Tuft of black hair beneath the lip, beatnik style. Big ears, strong jaw. And the clothes--here's where simplicity does all the trick for me: a t-shirt, red, with thick white piping from the v-neck to the edge of the short sleeves. Hangs off solid, worked pecs, and as he walks the shirt sways slightly below and sometimes just above the navel circled by a hedge of black bristles. Cargo pants hug thick thighs and open sandals show his big feet and big toes that I beg to kiss.
Whenever I see Darius, I wish to become a slave. Some part of who I am, an important, vital part, unnamed because we are not to know (or if we do know, then we are not to encourage) this thing in us, but truly some part of who I have always been, wishes for this and wishes for it almost more than it wishes for love or fame or money or power or peace or joy: to surrender, to bow down, to do obeisance, to be a slave to the physical glory of a man whom I would, in the moment, for the sexual and emotional thrill of it, call my superior.
Is it all about power?
How does it begin?
Far, far back. But I'll begin recently, with John.
WASPy type, big groin stuffed in black slacks, corporate slave: John the poet. He has small ears and gray-tipped brown hair neatly trimmed at the neck and along the back of his head, thick and brushed into a suave and conservatively flamboyant curve across his forehead. Nice lips. Very nice: surprisingly rotund and shapely, a rich, slightly-short-of-purple color. Pretty eyes--can't remember the color: possibly hazel or light brown. He wears a suit and a tie and he makes a lot of money and may be, probably is, a Jack Kemp Republican. Married, repressed. [End Page 174]
We meet at a dinner party hosted by a mutual friend. John remembers me from some other party more than a year ago. "Caine!" He smiles as his fingertips graze my upper arm. I do not remember him, but he has my attention now. I fancy there is a flow of energy, a charge of the god Eros like a gunpowder trail simmering between us. But this cannot be; it is only the ache of the god Need that I feel, a peeling from His aura shimmering across my line of sight so that nothing else registers. John and I talk of politics, and art, and money, and barely agree, though somehow agreement and a meeting of minds seem altogether inconsequential. He shakes my hand. I leave the party. I walk back to my car and the air is heavy with a deep...