Extract vi - from Uncruising

Areez Katki

Extract vi
Sunday 16th June 2019
Prevenas Studios, Milos
Not in a particularly coherent state right now – this weekend in Milos has left me feeling a bit sore and somehow always thirsty. The air here is cleaner than in Athens but also thicker, perhaps due to our proximity to the seashore. And since one of my ribs has bruised & swollen from a particularly forceful impact by P from behind last week, this dull pain has constantly plagued the left cavity of my upper chest. This happens every time my abdominal muscles tense up during the movements between a reclined to seated positions, and even more often when my lungs expand during deep inhalation. My breath has thus become shallower than it should be, as I am seated in a small shaded courtyard – writing and smoking a cigarette at six thirty in the morning, with P snoring away in our tiny bed.
I must begin by apologising to this treasured stack of bound paper; forsaking our most sacred of healing acts; not having written for what feels like a month (though it must be less, surely). Instead I have been drawing, painting, photographing and gleaning from every sensory experience in Greece. The most potent of these have been shared with P since we met at the beginning of this month. With him also being from New Zealand (ridiculous, I know) but living in the U.S, our time together feels like this ephemeral raft that will soon sink. And when it does he’ll swim westward toward the Atlantic and I’ll swim eastward – the Indian Ocean is warmer, thankfully. The things I’ve felt after what initially began as this cordial, perfunctory friendship, have resurrected some remnants of -sigh- romantic performativity; gestures that I haven’t quite allowed myself to perform since two thousand & thirteen. Too indulgent, too irrational. Must focus on my practice and personal growth. Yet here I am today – with a lover who probably thinks of our time together as this tender but transient bubble. P is well equipped with ointments and rambunctious collegiate experiences that will entertain him when it ruptures. I can foresee this with clarity. This glacial farewell ensued well before our separation in the end of June. Perhaps I should practice more restraint now and follow rituals learned from schools of pragmatism, realism and caution. Familiar practices from years ago – no? As I prepare for loss, it occurs to me that I must write at least once during this period of bliss. If not for my practice, then for my future self; perhaps even for P’s. Just in case we never see each other again. Some sad, poorly-written document must exist to proclaim: We were here. And it was delicious.
Yesterday afternoon we crisscrossed the northeastern shore of Milos and decided to park around Sarakiniko beach – a coastline with undulating volcanic rocks that formed curvilinear peaks and clefs. Like the soft bulges and pouches formed by P’s body as it moved clumsily (adorably) through every street we strolled down in Greece. However this beach is where I would like to document my time with him most luridly. This was where we first swam together – really hope that I get to swim with him more often – as often possible really, before our time together vaporises.
Upon arrival we both stripped down to our swim shorts; I remember vividly how his pink skin, so aberrantly fragile, was already being cooked by the sun and scored by hot rocks that we’d lean against. How his sweat smelled sweet to me as I moved closer. Note: this is not a characteristic reaction from my brain when it registers body odour. Trouble. Big trouble. I smeared his back and chest with sunblock and suggested we dive into the water, almost immediately, to avoid shock. Once having descended into a wet rocky wrinkle around that bone-white volcanic bank where we left our things; here I decided to stop giving a fuck – plummeting straight in, I swam ten or so strokes underwater. Then resurfaced, turned around and watched as he stood, still only knee-deep in that wrinkle, smiling awkwardly, anxiously contemplating the same leap I had just taken so recklessly. P eventually joined me in the water, however reluctantly. We swam up and down that bay of crystalline water, which looked like blue ink seeping between blindingly pale papery cliffs made of crumpled-up origami.
My skin stood out here, as it did almost everywhere in Europe. Especially this weekend as it transfigured from a shade of olive to a deeper, almost burnt caramel. I rejoiced at finding the capacity for darkening without weathering or peeling – finding this true pigment in my DNA is like a physical act of self-realisation that only genetics and the sun may govern. P’s body was softer, fragile and went from ivory to a pale pink, followed by shades of rosier and then dustier pink – almost crimson around his neck and that part of his upper chest that was never concealed, even when he was fully clothed. P loved to wear his shirts buttoned very low. Dangerously low. Revealing the ripples and rolls of his abdomen that I loved gripping onto when we had sex. I cared for each undulation and made sure that he knew it; I said that a body like his was that of a vital man; one who feasted unapologetically and thought vividly and enjoyed every sensory pleasure in some unadulterated equilibrium between greed and restraint. It moved me but did not faze him – some perfunctory thank you with absolutely no trace of modesty, as if he already knew these as facts regarding his physical composition. Perhaps I should cease complimenting him, lest he think my words come from a place other than sincere admiration. Perhaps he already knows; it comes from the adoring gaze of a pathetically awestruck creature, one who would like nothing more than to be devoured by his captor, some colossal beast.
After having had our fill of buoyancy around the bays at Sarakiniko, we decided to dwell further inland and explore some caves we drove past on our way there. Going past an olive tree and bushes of Greek sea reeds. Leaves from the latter were picked, sniffed, and then tucked between my left ear & temple – some succulent plant that smelled fragrant, almost like thyme but saltier and sweeter. I wondered if it were edible like the samphire I often cooked for us. Good with lemon and olive oil? Almost everything is. So I foraged for a few more branches on our way to the first cave, shoving them in my butt pocket. The first cave mouth was carved crudely into a low biomorphic point of entry; quite shallow, with a few subtle markings and several prominent ones left behind by recent visitors and lovers. P and I did not leave a mark. Instead we kissed, examined and moved onto the next: a succession of fissures that went deeper into a rather large complex of even larger square cavities, four to six meters in height each. It was cooler here and I could barely see P. My pupils dilated and adjusted to shadows, all suffused in a thick must; striations left by the builders of these caves. In the windy solitude of those shadows we briefly contemplated how & when the caves were made. Pre-industrial quite possibly, on account of those crude striations left on all those dynamically scored walls – traces left by the human hand.
After a few photographs were taken (I was especially drawn to the symmetry of several Josef Albers-like compositions; square within a square within a square) – P took me by the waist and we kissed again. However this time I let my hands crawl upward as he firmly gripped my bottom. Mine went past his damp chest to his hair – taking firm action to communicate how much I wanted him, right then and there; to be honest, almost anywhere. I felt him press my lower body close to his as my bare feet went on their toes, so as to match my groin in a vigilantly leveled proximity to his. Bonded below the waist, our hands travelled between shorts as our mouths exhaled heavily. We tasted the salt on each other’s skin. My rib was sorer than ever as I enjoyed every dull wave of pain that he inflicted with his hand and the heaving of his heftier upper body. It happens every time; a most welcome injury that has yet to heal.
We were alone in that cave for a brief while before hearing a few voices echo through our wee cavity. The second they felt too close we had to disengage – yanking our clothing and up we went. With swollen bulges in our swim shorts, I dizzily walked ahead of him toward the exit – with my eyes closed, licking my lips and panting still, with a deep hunger that has yet to be satiated.


(Extracted from 'Uncruising')

Areez Katki
Athens 2019


Areez Katki is a multidisciplinary artist & writer based in Auckland, New Zealand. Drawing from historical and social research, he addresses his value for craft sensibilities through a research-driven contemporary practice. Over the duration of his career, Katki has focused on the significance of materiality in the domestic realm, through personal processes of fabricating textiles and an ongoing engagement with their narratives.

© Lieu Journal 2020