My body is hairless.
Smooth, rounded surfaces, stomach
(like lunar bloat) protruding
(there can be fine sand on my body when sprawled)
but here, I’m upright, shoulders back, spine curvature
calves, elbows, pubis — angled perfect, soft to touch
This is my performance,in the central business district
Building facade filthy with black grime and unclean capitalism
6pm. Everyone else is going home while I am home
among currencies and crisis management units / strategic business empires unawares of my hauntology
I move between dinner tables full of hunger.
Afterwork professionals/ middle management / executives / junior ad men search for empty seats
waiting to order dead animals (fried , boiled, steamed)
(the four living creatures, restful in my arms, before the throne of God)
i smell carbon monoxide from dark grey tarmac
double decker busses lurching
faces full of fatigue staring out
None—shocked by my nakedness
People pass me by,
grazing the tips of my limbs but
they do not see me
The camera man sees me
perched in his corner
stooping low, low-light settings, filming my slow turn and step and lowering of body and temperature
I am looking for water, a white shower from trees
dark canopies screeching with carrion birds
a blue black bruised sky
Skin moisturised but dry
This is my celebrated act
Specific gestures for the masses
A movement of arms and hands
from rib to ear, a metre away from chest and nipple
veins and palm, holding a new bottle of
antibacterial body wash
I put it on empty tables then take it away
before people could sit down with
Chinese tea and braised peanuts in saucers
Soap for you, soap for him, soap for her but no one sees me.
They just sit there in social configurations,
people layered with soot and paper cuts and pantry smells
dried biscuits gone stale…
I want to bathe them with trembling hands
wash the sins off their feet but they do not undress for me
I wish to lather myself
but the air is too dry
nothing descends from the sky
So I pose by roadside
profile, (exhale, distend gut), bend legs and barefoot
musculature, thighs untouched by the sun
no one can see me except the filming man
red light, high definition, on board mics tuned to traffic
and steady murmur of eating
Then the students come, recognising me.
For several terms I had studied with them.
The girl from india, flashes her white teeth, excited by my presence and progress.
We speak without speaking
They had seen me on stage several times before
and now they gather about my fresh flesh
in awe of hairlessness, my mythology, the epic blood and sweat, the light in mine eyes. One of them is studying the bottle of body wash, reading the labels, prime texts of my poetry,
“The long roads,” I told them, “it’s hard to go without transport. I walk. I walk, curved streets, past vintage shophouses. I aim for the buildings on the horizon, financial district. I follow the money.” I point and everyone looks. the camera pans. the sky is ominous, blackness devouring penthouses.
“Those moguls, they pray for shower so I am here, with the soap, but they do not see me…”
“We see you,” the youngest girl says.
I follow them. Young, tender rabbits, I follow them.
Through glass sliding doors, up black escalators, past the princess loaded with youthful gold and dinner dress and treasury, the students bring me to their classroom.
Part-time evening lessons had begun
for hours on end
tuition stuck in the blue-grey dusk, everyone is tired.
But I am here now.
I’m at the back of the class. The camera man waits outside, stealing found sounds on black boxes poised against closed doors – recording.
I’m too late, scattered chapters and discussions were missed
but i’m settling into the middle of a topic:
Top of the line automobiles:
– sections on insurance numbers, velocity philosophy, paint jobs, oil grades
So many words on white trash paper clipped to white boards
axis mathematics, rotational physics, chemical emissions, street conditions
There were photos. Blurred, iso too low.
Several car models were identified,
trapped in unmoving traffic outside the building
There’s a ghostly image of a naked man posing,
profile, left leg thrust out in semi-falling
tendon taut, knees wobbling
hairless artist evolving
from grotesque sculptures
skin the colour of pastel afternoons
squatting, pre-leapfrog, post-landing
he’s there but also not
an enactment / an audience
Copies of the photos were handed out earlier but I cannot find mine.
I need to make an announcement to the class.
(The lessons don’t end, no clocks on the walls )
My core sketchbook is missing.
I only have black folders, loose sheets in between hard covers
half drawings of fully nude selves
tone, nerve groups, exoskeleton, varying degrees of body tension, sexual positions, a mimicry of god forms.
‘assembly required, assembly required’
The lecturer is missing. He sits at the back of the class. Or he is by the roadside, moving between people eating…
The recoding artiste is editing a sound clip.
He loops that existential question, syncing it to the grainy, monochromatic video of a man in dramatic movement, gripping a bottle of soap in his hand
I know that this man dreams of bath in the city
– but the air is so dry
– there is no water from the sky
– no one is looking…