Dear Ali,

 

When I think of night I think of you. Was it as lush as you depicted? Under the creamy green palms, in the crevices of ancient Cairo, the mysterious male bodies, their yellow eyes gazing at you from the crepuscular sky.

 

Was this your shot-regard? A cinematic take, a seductive glance? An Islamic vision, homoerotic, homophilic, a dream that could only, really, glimmer at night?

 

Les Jardins de Nil, were they your fantasy? To be resident of the river, to live atop it as you did, in a gently rocking houseboat, for me a battle with le moustique, le pestilence, the liquid excretions of the mother of the world.

 

My fantasy happened one night in Khan Al-Khalil.

 

The mosque umbrellas turned icy blue,

against the violet sky;

became rockets, projectiles,

striated,

with potential energy.

 

They were parasols but I didn’t care what they really were.

Their shape against a deep volume,

Otherworldly.

 

It happened to me again but this time candlelit;

Lithe male bodies

A marble hammam

Near Ramses Station.

 

When the electricity cut

Nothing could be heard

But whistles and cowls

Deep moans

Panting

Lips and bodies pressing

And releasing.

 

It was a radial orgy split into five chambers by black iron,

which could only be discerned by candelabra,

Caligula’s.

 

Maybe your remains are trapped,

sealed within

The broken blue ceramics you painted,

Qarafat.

Or strewn somewhere between your first and last triptych in Aqaba.

 

I always searched for you in these anthropomorphic ruins

Left behind by someone’s hands

But I couldn’t find yours

Or your body

Only your confession of a paradise lost.

 

It is evident in your aquatic skies

Your milky suns.

 

Tell me about your white, floppy jeans, I have been searching for a pair in Philadelphia which I will never find. Did they better reflect the sun? Or did they keep your body cool, transport you to a resort on the sea?

 

Your ideal

Your desire

My ideal

My desire

I find traces of it still

 

In the uniforms

Fadi told me about your white labcoat

How you covered it in dust to stay dirty from the beginning

To labor

On what is left of sanguine history

 

Men are stubborn as ever

Mustaches have not budged

Heavy and thick forever

It is still the 80s

With Ottoman flashbacks

 

Diurnal,

Everything is in plain view,

Radiant and lazy

Antique, masculine beauty

Byzantine, feminine beauty

But only nocturnal

Life is possible again

 

Violet sky

Under the palm twilight

Momentary ecstasy

In the tropical heat

A summer dust blows

Brings dry sweat

Looms the potential for closeness

 

When I look at your violet sky we meet for a fast encounter.