Cleopatra, the beauty who changed the world – a woman’s journey through time
Last year AbstractMagTv asked me to write a story around some stunning photos by Alexey Vladimir. The photos were centered around the portrait of a woman, who was made up in a Cleopatra style, and had an intricate hairdo. Everything about her was golden: her skin had a gold shimmer, her long dress was golden, she wore a big golden necklace, and she lay on this stark brown, cracked ground. If you want to see the photos that inspired this story, I guess you go to the magazine’s website.
The expression on the woman’s face was one of defiance, I thought, so I decided to make a statement about the modern woman. What I wanted was to create a visual picture with words to complement the striking nature of the photos.
I’m not certain I achieved what I wanted, but you can read it and decide for yourselves.
I’m not posting the story with the original photos, but with some photos of me. I hope you enjoy it!
She was Cleopatra. She was woman. As certain as life sprang from the bounties of the Nile to revive a cracked and parched world, so had sensuality sprang from her depths, flowing from her being to enchant the world. But how would she use this gift granted by the goddess?
Cleopatra sailed across the vast, arid desert woven of time and space, floating past the glass and steel tombs of civilizations like a goddess borne atop a scalloped shell blown toward the shore by the Four Winds. She was clothed in gold and wrapped in beauty and the hordes she passed all turned to gaze. But could they, who saw her bronze-hued skin, see through the gossamer wings of loveliness that clothed her? Did they understand she was something new born to the world in that very instant? Did they understand that her being brought change?
She drifted toward the monolithic pyramid that jutted up from the broken sand like an inviting phallus. It had been built by the whim of man to exalt his glory. It was magnificent. The culmination of man’s achievement. A concrete edifice erected to proclaim man’s domination over all things great and all things small, but Cleopatra was unmoved by the majesty of man’s achievement. To her it was nothing more than a monument to the past. Basking in the starlight of her metamorphosis, all she saw was a testimony of the old ways that appraised her worth and value by looks alone. That was a world that was slowly crumbling away to join the dust that filled the endless desert.
The dust she brushed aside as she emerged from her chrysalis.
Cleopatra swept through entryways that would have once been closed to her, but now they yawned open before her coming, inviting her inside a sanctum once denied to her and all of her sisters. She strode fearlessly down endless hallways, moving closer to the heart of the beast’s labyrinth, until she finally stood before him.
He was her Antony, her Caesar, and when Cleopatra entered his domain, the hunger that flashed in his eyes revealed that he understood that their eternal struggle hadn’t ended, but his wolfish smile told her in no uncertain terms that he didn’t understand that the struggle had changed. He was man, with a man’s view of the world and, as man, he was living firmly in the crumbling world that had been. So when he cast his eyes upon her, he saw exactly what he expected to see. Her flowing hair, her graceful neck, the turn of her shapely calf, and the hint of other delights hidden beneath the luxurious golden fabric. He only saw beauty, and, as man, he believed that her beauty shone only for him. He saw the pleasures of her body that would be his as predictably as the moon giving way to the sun.
Cleopatra smiled, knowing what he thought, but also knowing that the sun inevitably gives way to the moon.
The sun spun backward, west to east, and the moon waned to waxing over the virginal desert. The world was young, and the sun dripped its warmth down upon the hard, broken land. This was when the eternal struggle was in its purest form. When wants and desires were told in looks and touches, and ownership was conveyed from the father to the son.
She waited in the oasis for her destiny to come to her. She was as lovely as the moonlight falling on the water. Her Anthony came to her after overcoming the trials of tradition. He entered her garden, proud and preening. She peered up at him, demur and inviting. He was man, and he was here to take what was his. She was woman, and her heart was not hers to give. Her heart had already been given to him by another. She was woman, and she was a gift.
He was man, and he did not demur. He openly appreciated her. His eyes filled with lust as he marveled at the sensuality contained in the languid curve of her bare shoulder and the gentle arch of her back. The downward cast of her copper brown eyes were her submission, and the rise and fall of her breasts were his invitation. His want was carnal, and his thoughts were barbarous.
Her wants were carnal, and her thoughts were unimportant. She was woman, who was enslaved by his world, but she was aware of the power of her beauty. Her beauty was her strength. Her beauty was his weakness.
“I am Anthony,” he said.
“I am Cleopatra,” she answered.
He approached and reached out a groping hand across the void that separated them.
“You are mine,” he said.
She accepted his burning touch and surrendered to the golden instant that carried more need than she had ever grasped in a hundred beats of her pounding heart.
“I know,” she said, lowering her dark soulful eyes away from his fiery gaze.
The prelude of their dance ended as he kneeled before her and adorned her with his offering. The golden chain of her devotion was slipped around her graceful neck and lay heavily against her unspoiled bronze-hued skin. The golden clasp closed with a final click, like the lock of a gilded cage, and she was his, body and soul, to please and pleasure however he saw fit.
This was the way it was and had always been. There were no questions asked, or requests made, or permissions given, because those had already been made by different voices, and, fulfilling what was expected of her, she gave herself to him.
And in the darkness of modesty there was a touch, a breath across skin, lips slightly touching, hands searching, and bodies pressing together. It was how it should be. With the unspoken acknowledgement that he was master and she was submissive, they became one, a slow-moving beast without thought, as she gave herself to him in the way only a woman could give.
Above the desert, on the apex of the pyramid, Cleopatra met her Anthony in a moment of time when all the heavens held their breath and all the stars watched, anticipating the meeting of the sun and the moon.
She had come far across the broken desert, and had been followed by suitors who kissed her feet like courtesans seeking attentions. They didn’t understand that she hadn’t come so far or endured so much only to accept a share of what they held so dearly. She wanted something different. She wanted more. She wanted her Anthony.
Fully realized, Cleopatra stood before him, unashamed, proud, unbound, and met his stare. She revealed her chains to him because they were chains of her own making. Cleopatra had broken the chains of tradition that had once bound her. She had shaken free of the stifling accouterments of the crumbling world, and she had risen from the desert like a hawk soaring toward the sky.
Her Antony stared at her, blinking against her golden brightness. He drank in her beauty, and his gaze asked a question his voice couldn’t speak: “Whose are you?”
Cleopatra remembered the desert and her bondage. She remembered when she had been nothing more than a bobble to be given or taken. She remembered when her voice was trapped in a cage of expectation and tradition. She smiled at him.
“I am mine and mine alone, to give or not, as I please,” she said. “I am Cleopatra.”
Her words were the truth that had always been known but had never been heard. Her words made her more beautiful than she had ever been. She was woman as man was man.
“I am Antony,” he said.
She took a step toward him, washing him in her radiance.
“You are my Anthony,” she said. “And I’ve come for you.”
“I know,” he said.
Anthony gazed upon her. He saw her flowing hair, her graceful neck, the turn of her shapely calf, and the hint of other delights hidden beneath the luxurious golden fabric, but he also saw the woman beneath the skin. His Cleopatra. His equal. And in that moment the beast inside him was tamed, and the fire of his passion was stoked higher than ever before.
This was the way it should be and would be. Desires spoken, wants requested, permissions given. Her voice as loud as his. She giving herself to him. He giving himself to her.
Cleopatra and Anthony came together under the blazing sun in the parched and broken desert, neither ashamed, neither submissive, man and woman equally seeking pleasure. His strong hands sliding over her bronze-hued curves. Her nails scratching over his rippling muscles. Their lips kissing and their bodies arching until they found the union that could only be found when equal parts come together to make one.
She is Cleopatra, and she is woman.