The phone may ring, but you won’t conjure images of ladies paired with men who elegantly pass beneath a canopy of ivory blooms, their footsteps paced in half time to the flutes and strings that seem ideal accompaniment to the changing leaves, the golden zinnias. Your phone will ring – “Please won’t you join us for a cocktail in the Kantambuku lounge?” – and drums begin to beat. It’s dark in there. You’ll part the grass and step inside. Tall candles barely light the way. Upon the walls and in the air encounter Africa in carvings, paintings, distant melodies and spiced aromas, drums. You’ll feel the crowd, but you won’t see the crowd, because the tables have been curtained off by strings of wooden beads. And anyway they’re just like you; that’s why they’re here. No thanks. Perhaps another time. Your phone rings, but you needn’t answer. Mirrors have been laid in tiles across the ceiling and the walls in order to ensure the sighting of yourself in various positions, angles, acts of intimacy with her. Carved-out eyes and flashing hands. The phone. Ignore it. Full-length tubs, our bath amenities are plentiful. Sweet soaps and oils and sudsy potions, dainty tropical perfumes. One whiff of jasmine and a glimpse across her body in the tub, and you will feel quite deeply reacquainted with the story of the tulip cradling those two tiny lovers softly from the world.
It rings. Not now, you’re far too busy now. Foam melts upon her skin and coats her in a gauzy shimmer as she stands there waiting for a towel, her beauty in this otherworldly, dark domestic setting nothing but miraculous. “It’s happy hour in the lounge, all drinks and snacks half-price until six forty-five.” No thanks. The drums. Hang up. The beads. Why go down there when you and she are in the sweetest smelling center of the universe? That phone can ring and ring, the world be damned, as you unwrap her, take her to the bed, make love to her and tell her that you wish that you had met her all those years ago; that being here and being free to act like normal people makes you think about how much you wish that God could take you back in time and take her there as well. Then kiss her when it’s over. Speak into her pretty ear about a long-awaited, radiant sort of future; fill her mind with images of ancient melancholy days of love and earthly trust gone by. Hello. “We’re serving dinner in the Wantanabi Room, would you like reservations?” No, we won’t be needing reservations, what is going on in here is something that cannot be stopped for reservations. Rosebud breasts, a creamy bottom, doll eyes, scent of coconut on skin, taste honey balm on lips. “We understand, just thought we’d ask, but if you’re looking for a place to go, try out the garden.” Later on, you’ll say to her, Let’s go, huh? Get some air? In silky moonlight, diamond-studded by a scattering of stars, the evening ought to glisten. Private, dark, the murmuring of others should be felt to rise above the surface of the silence, joined increasingly by a gentle pulse accompanied by something more melodic, wistful, coming from, it seems, the farthest corner of the garden. Big banana leaves. Wide flowers, colors dampened. Little plaques stuck in the dirt that name the flowers are obscured by darkness, everything so pale and softened. That is, if you’d ever leave the room.
“There’s music starting in the chapel. Won’t you take a late-night stroll out to the chapel?” Yes, we’re coming, thank you. “You will find the chapel in the farthest corner of the garden, entrance to the garden past the lobby just before the lounge, turn left, the automatic doors will open, step outside.” You’ll say to her, Come on, let’s take a walk.
Birds shriek and monkeys chatter. Beat accompanied by voices rising gently as you go. You see, we understand how many times you’ve talked to her of promises, of sacred spaces. Tears have fallen, and you’ve touched her, petted her until she cannot get enough. We know. Of dreams of marriage and eternity and of a home for two she’s whispered. Oh, my little love, come here, you’ve said, and let me tell you something. I won’t live forever, when I die I want for you to find someone who’s closer to your age.
Look down on snaky patterns set into the pathways leading to the chapel, ivory cross on top. That sad though cunning structure. Dimly looming building fashioned out of midnight, moonlight glittering its lines and contours, stars reflected in the stained-glass windows. Passion. Resurrection. Others may walk by, but you won’t see their faces; they will not see yours. Like vapors, couples wander toward the chapel, music nearing. Just to step into the kind of place she knows she’ll never visit with you, not out in the real world, does things to her. Drums (behind the singing voices) growing, couples enter it. You enter too, move toward the back, away from all of them. Squeeze in a nook. No candles; only stars and moonlight on those holiest of high, translucent scenes. Her sex will drip as she moves closer to you, squeezing in between your body and a wall, those other couples (thick, dark, breathing forms) drift closer to the alter, music filling every corner of the chapel as you fuck her in that dark and cozy private little nook.
It rings: “We understand. The fear of getting caught inhibits most outside activity, that’s number one. But number two – ” We’ll be right there, just having trouble getting out the bloody door! “Is a fear of something else.”
the mouth: “i’d be ashamed”; the eyes: “when shall we meet again?”