The last vestiges of summer, Storm and I met for brunch and then proceeded to amble about the East Village rather aimlessly. It was pleasant and rainy. Light grey, light rain. We came across a Church on 1st Avenue.
“Look!” said Storm “It’s Datura,”
He was pointing at a cluster of white bell-shaped flowers in the Church yard
“Datura. It’s a hallucinogen. Shamanic”
We jumped over the fence and plucked a stem. A flower; white, white as a marble goddess with purple veins. A heavy, heady scent. Our sting operation was invisible to all, save the Virgin who stood immobile and unblinking in the garden.
At Storm’s we nimbly dissembled the petals and the stalk and thought of ways to ingest it. There was no need, a peculiar thing had already happened: we had absorbed it through our skin. We could tell— not only were we plunged into a liquid daze: all latent attractions became apparent. Dire molecular friction:
“I think it’s an aphrodisiac”
The rain pattered heavily outside. There was the sound of imaginary thunder, then:
A kiss, like poison
Eden turned to Gethsemane
Flustered, I left. It was too complicated; he was already involved and in love with someone else. I had been bruised by one love triangle too many.
That night I slept with a wreath of Datura at my bedside. My dreams were dense and populated with darknesses like some urgent prophecy downloaded into unconscious regions. In the morning I had changed. I was acutely aware of this when I spoke to Storm over the phone. Incredible distance had built up between us. A gravity on my part made it impossible for us to be comfortable. Over the next few weeks we lost touch in a spiral of phone tags and avoidances. A new anger paved with indifference developed in me. A dark cloudy brew, I enveloped myself in poison: petals, stalks, seeds. The world changed around me: it was my battlefield. A bloody altar.
Later I would read about the dancing girls of Arabia who spiked wine with Datura seeds and made slaves of their clients. Witches used it to fly and copulate with the Devil. In Haiti it was used in distillations to create zombies.
I passed by the Church one night in the Fall, there were no flowers, no heavy scent. I broke off a branch of dying leaves.
Where have all the flowers gone? Flowers of evil? Long time passing…
Fall was dark. Friends fell away from me, a withering of desire. Strange Romanticist notions: I came to think of myself as one who skulked in shadows and night. Stalking no one in particular, just the pitch black crevices for potential prey. One morning, waking, I felt my shadow become a long sinuous panther, snarling fetid breath. I was aware of her all day long: a threat to potential wayfarers. A stilled battle ax plunged in the minds of the unsuspecting: such was my aggression, a black cat. The next day I was clearing out the wine bottles for recycling, there were a couple under my bed, brand name Gato Negro, replete with a miniature black cat dangling from the bottleneck on a red thread.
I had been sphinxed. Arrived at a solution without knowing the riddle: incidents that knot up soul. I derived great pleasure from loneliness in those days. In the evenings I would hang out at any random number of bars: the men couldn’t keep away, men in endless query. I’d engage in dark violent sex marathons with people I had just met. Intensity: they’d become afraid and not call me back. I hardly cared, I was only interested in dissolving the riddle I found myself become. I wanted answers.
A Sphinx is one part lion and mostly female. A beast with two backs.
Late December, the streets were flash with window displays, shoppers; holiday cheer. Everything bright and twinkly. On Madison Avenue, I heard a boy ask his mother:
“What is glitter made of Mommy?”
I walked downtown lost in a trance of sparkles, his question revised resounding in my head:
“What is glitter?”
Consider the opal, its fickle color play— the disco element of Nature. How is it that glitz evokes the sacred star shelters— Isis, Ishtar, Inanna— their splendour and purity?
How elegantly he states it, the Wolf I met in a dream once:
“There is glitter in all things: only the true adept can harness its steelfire, the star showers; they are skeletal mysterions, a deep grammar lodged in the mundane—”
We are in the glacial caves of the Far North, caught in an icy blast—
Eyes, green-flecked demons snare me
(I was far, but now am near).
Fangs: carved gleaming scmitars of menace, a death-shaped mouth
he speaks, mocking:
“Only the pure in heart will perceive glitter”
And in things other than words I am made to understand that this purity has nought to do with blamelessness or naiveté.
And now the stars in the clear of Winter nights: shining down on me, stellar charges of purity. My brain rammed hollow at the bitterness of that thought: pure. What is pure? What was it like to feel clean and untrammeled?
How decadent I had become.
Unconsciously I had stopped in front of the Church. There were no flowers, no leaves, just the gnarly vine branch in decay:
“We’re all sold out here in the pleasure department”
I turned round,
We hadn’t spoken in months. I thought I hadn’t missed him—
“What are you up to?”
“I was just taking a walk—” this was awkward.
“It’s really cold.”
“How have you been?”
He laughed, “It’s always sort of tricky, right? What are you doing, do you want to come up to my place for a joint?”
What is glitter?
“Sure. Why not.”
Back at the ranch, not only did we smoke a bowl, he said
“I’ve got liquid too”
“Really, where’s it from?”
“A friend brought it in from Santa Fe. It’s really pure stuff. So clean”
We split a sugar cube, a half hit each.
A half hour of silence. He killed the lights, we sat in darkness
“Look!” he said
Outside white crystal flurries rushed passed the windows, resting on the fire escape.
We watched the first snows, collided and kissed.
“It feels so glittery” he said.
After love we steal into the park: soft white snow, diamond palette and night. Snowflakes, crystal as crystal meth.
Is this glitter?
Bare trees, benches and grass adrift in glassy white.
There is an angel in the snow, Look! I say to Storm
“Is that an angel made of snow, or is that an angel in the snow?”
“I don’t know” I say,
but think of an incident I read about long ago:
An Evangelist from the Bible Belt on vacation with his family in Utah. They stop by the Mormon Tabernacle for a guided tour. Atop the main church building is a statue of the angel Moroni who had led Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, to the tablets— the Book of Mormon. The tour guide explains this to them, adding also that every now and then the angel speaks to present company, sending the chosen one into a trance. The Evangelist’s son, a young boy, not quite thirteen, immediately falls into spasms— an epileptic fit. The tour guide and the other Mormons marvel at this miracle taking place in their midsts. But the Evangelist, having none of this, lays hands on his son, casting out the demon that troubles him—
“Mormons?” says Storm
I realize we are now telepathic
“Named after the Angel Moroni.” I try to explain about the boy I was thinking of— “He fell into a trance because the angel was trying to communicate”
“We’re in a trance”
“You think? Is that an angel?”
We look at the mass of swirling snow, it could be. It could also be:
“God in the whirlwind”
We giggle and embrace: whirling flakes encompass us, losing us in a flurry of angels and stars and god. Glitter.
©2003, 2013 onome ekeh