Monday, July 9, 2012


II Cairo

The next time that I saw you, was of course, in Cairo. Jesus, it was dark that night. The stars seemed little frigid points of light, very small and very far away. Even though I sweated in that heat as heavy as a blanket, I felt pierced through by that icy light.

In that hot embracing darkness, you came to me all dressed in white, except for your blue hood and veil, halfway between the color of the daytime and the nighttime sky. At first, I didn't know you. I took you for a whore, or perhaps a nun.

Your rebuke was icy: "I thought at least that you would always know me, no matter what the circumstance, no matter what disguises I might wear. I see, however, that you cannot love me as I thought you did." I hung my head, disgraced.

Then, as if to comfort me, you drew aside your veil, granting me the vision for a single moment of the movement of those carmine lips of yours.

You commanded me to follow you, and so I did. Outside a dozen doors I waited while you knocked and entered, leaving me to wait behind, unknowing, each time with that same frightened air of secrecy and danger, like a spy. Shivering in all that heat, I died a thousand deaths a dozen times while waiting for your re-emergence to the street. I agonized: what would I do if I should ever hear your scream?

We were not the only furtive ones afoot that night. Some others scurried past me as I waited, averting their glances.

So as not to fall into a tragic error, I forced myself to learn to recognize only the exact whisper of your skirt around your ankles, the sound of just your slippers and no-one else's on the stones.

And so,  half believing, half in doubt, I followed you through that night in Cairo, knowing nothing but that I followed you, and had to.

I didn't mean to disappear. I didn't mean to. Though I must confess that like Eurydice, I lusted for your backward glance. When at last you did turn back, your gaze was like a searchlight, hot and brilliant, burning. I became like a sun dial. A long dark shadow fell behind me like an axe. I tumbled backwards into it and was lost for days.

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