What is the language of their stare? It is tent-like, encompassing shards of split apart bodies. Only certain parts are devoured.
There is a mathematical equation to the dialect of these men. And some of them grope and attempt to take cells off women. Pieces of shoulder and whatever juts out becomes fair game.
These men enjoy the scent of flesh fondled by wind and summertime sweat. Perfume can be a gateway drug. So can lipstick and ribcages that exhale.
These men lick their lips as though the ones they seek out are meals. They rub hands together– creating a friction– like knives sharpening. These glares are weapon-like.
When will they pounce and will they ask first or will they take and will they wash their fingers before probing.
These men speak in clicks and teeth rub. A universal dialect of disrobe. There is an assumption of permission.
And then there are the men who are hybrids. Composites of the earth…of various genders and rhythms…those who transcend what we are used to.
I have met only a few of these men. Men who ask before taking. Men who are intellectuals and deep-thinkers. Men who raise children to be poets. Men who are queer or gender warriors.
One I call Dad. One I called lover. One I have recently reconnected with who challenges my heart and mind in remarkable ways.
I walk beside a painter. We travel the busy blocks of Brooklyn during a festival celebrating a particular culture and its music and cuisine. I watch the men eat their way toward those who pass. One grabs onto a woman’s strap and pulls her toward him. My body is enraged. The painter tells me that this is what happens in their culture.
Unfortunately, it is permissible, she adds.
I walk with bag of dirty laundry held captive in giant blue bag. Three men call out to me. Hey, Red. Roots of rage grow fierce as I assume they are working toward inappropriate thoughts or gestures. Instead, when I speak to them, they look at me as though I am just a human, rather than a particular gender. We talk about poetry and one of them recites a poem he memorized when he was young and living in Michigan. The other comments on the yogurt I am eating. Does that have fruit in it? I hear that’s really good. And the third man tells me he is a graphic designer; I can help you with any cover art when your books come out, he says.
There are more than just two genders out there and within the ones we (think) we know best, there are so many deviations. The men who take and take and grab and harm are out there. But so are the ones who take you to garage sales as a kid and remind you the importance of storytelling and old time radio shows.
There are the ones who aggressively feast on women and there are the ones who ask permission before touching your hips and kissing their way in.
I am beginning to learn the importance of the delineations between these men. Some are poets. Some are teachers. Some are brothers. Some used to be women. Perhaps there is a need to be open to those who may surprise us because those are the ones who may have the power to teach us to look beyond the ones who haunt……