Friday, 4 November 2011

let them eat fruitcake: n'abat t'awy (lady of two lands)

For this piece, we were to choose a historical figure (non-psychotic, so I couldn't use Elizabeth Bathory and Vlad the Impaler), research the figure to get as much detail as possible about his/her life, characteristics, etc, then to write a scene using the historical figure and the information we had acquired.

I decided to tie in my historical figure with my piece so far for Ms. Graham's class.


There is power.

Do you sense it?

There is power within every inch of this bronze skin. There is power on every end of these long fingers. There is power within the beckoning of your brown eyes. There is power.

Do you feel it?

There is power within every arch of your eyebrows. There is power within every strand of your eyelashes. There is power within every hair on your arms, or on the back of your neck.

You must use that power, exercise it beyond the ability of ordinary woman. You must harvest it, harness it, pull it close to your heart, claim it as your own, and share it among your people.

This power will be multiplied as paint and stones and textiles decorated and draped over your exterior.

Wadj. Green. Painted over your upper eyelids to represent the fertility that your reign will bring. Not just the fertility of the soil and land, but of women and men, to deliver boys and girls that will glorify the nation by being farmers, fishermen, warriors. Aten has spoken.

Shesep. White. Painted under your brow bone to show your omnipotence, over your people, and our enemies. Aten has spoken.

Kem. Black. Painted to frame your eyes to signify death. The death of your husband, your king, the king of your people. Aten has spoken.

Nebu. Gold. Dusted over your face and body, to ensure your people and warn your enemies that this woman is indestructible. Aten has spoken.

Hedj. White. The garment draped over your body to represent purity. For you shall rule with a pure heart of a mother, a daughter, and a queen. Aten has spoken.

Desher. Red. The color of life and victory. Intertwined with Mef’at, Turquoise, symbol of power of protection. Desher and Mef’at and nebu coiled around your neck. For you embody the three aspects. Aten has spoken.

Khepresh Irtiu. The blue cap crown. Placed over your head as a symbol of the righteousness of your title, the queen of Egypt by your own right, the successor of your husband, your king, the king of your people. Adorned by the serpent, Amduat, who swallows the sun and gives rise to night. The serpent ensures your people and warns your enemies that this woman rules night as well as day. Aten has spoken.

And finally, Kheper. The Scarab. On your chest. Your talisman. Your amulet. The symbol of resurrection of your husband, your king, the king of your people, within you, from you.

Now, open your eyes.

“Jesus Christ, Roger!” I screamed as I opened my eyes and took a look at the face in the mirror. I then looked at Roger who was standing beside my dressing table, grinning widely like a sexually-charged Cheshire Cat.

“Like it? I got the costume from a friend who worked at San Francisco Opera. None of that cheap, Halloween-store stuff. Nope. This is the haute-couture of stage costuming.” he said. “Don’t spill wine all over it.”

I didn’t know how to react. Late in August when I went to Roger’s office, he had put up pictures of Nefertiti, the Egyptian queen, on his door. The image of that woman, with her long neck, defined jaws and cheekbones, conjured a sense of otherworldly regality, and I told Roger that I wanted to be her for Halloween.

Then on Samhain eve, there he was on my door, begging me to come to a Halloween party at Limelight, the local gay bar we used to go to, thinking that it might cheer me up, telling me that he needed to get laid. I told him that I’d been cheered up from my recent trip to see my mother and brother. But Roger opened his bag and got out a flowing white toga and a blue tall cap adorned with golden snake ringlet. Then he proceeded to color my face as he told me the story of the great woman whose skin I would be wearing that night. I had become the Lady of Two Lands.

“Now, remember what Salt & Peppa said, ‘Carry yourself like a queen and you will attract a king,’” he winked.

“But I thought my king had died and Nefertiti had been banished,” I said in confusion.

“Well, there’s bound to be some half-naked hunk dressing up as an undead pharaoh,” he suggested. I wasn’t sure of the prospect or whether I would want to look for someone.

“What are you dressing up as anyway?” I asked. Roger took out a false beard and a papier-mache mask from his bag and held them up. I frowned.

“What? Craig, all the younger queens are probably going to dress up as Gaga or Minaj while the older hags will strut around as Barbra or Cher, or worse, Liza. No one will think of showing up as this guy.”

“I thought you said you wanted to get laid. How are you going to get a guy when you dress up as… him?” I asked as Roger proceeded nonchalantly to put on the mask and the beard and a cowboy hat.

“Darling, it’s either him or Gertrude Stein. I would have so much fun being original even if I didn’t get off, anyway. And besides, I’m trying to attract a more intelligent crowd,” he said. But I had a feeling he would get lucky that night. If Roger could find someone to hook up with at the funeral of his own grandmother, he could sure get someone at that cruisy, meat-market club. Even in that Walt Whitman get-up.


Just a little correction that I got from the class: it's actually not a cowboy hat that Walt Whitman wore. Probably a better term would be floppy hat.

By the way, Happy Samhain!

And yes, this guy here on the left is Walt Whitman.

And I believe part of this writing, at least the first italicized part, is inspired by Annie Lennox's "Why" music video. And no, I don't know if the coloring ritual of ancient Egypt is the way I described. I just took the elements of the colors of Nefertiti's make-up and jewelry and apparel.

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