Dez did always tell me that a Black man’s tears are sand. “Sand in an hour glass, to be exact,” he would say staring at things I wished I could see. And here I am, hands dripping sand, cheeks dry with the dust of my hourglass tears. Again. And again, I’m seeing his skyward gaze, his distant smile. And again, I’m wondering why these tears are falling.
I focus on the task at hand, brushing my teeth. My reflection betrays my attempt at normalcy. The taste of salt mixes with the minty freshness. I spit into the sink, then cup my hands below the faucet. The cool water pools into my palm, I wash away the vaguely rabid foam of the Crest. I repeat, splashing droplets onto the mirror as I wet my tear-dampened face. The water touches a memory.
“You think a lot,” he said almost complaintively. We were in my studio apartment, conveniently located between my job on campus and my favorite coffee spot. I took a breath to glance at him lying comfortably on my bed before responding. “So I’ve been told.” Paying him minimal attention, I continue replying to work emails.
“What do you think about crying?”
I remember how taken aback I was. The question carried the weight of serious thought, yet was hurled at me like a wad of paper.
“I think it’s natural,” I offered, my voice fraying around the edges with uncertainty. He scoffed at my non-committal reply.
“Natural, you would say that. Luxe, man, you have to stop being so predictable,” Dez teased, sitting up. I realized, probably belatedly, that Dez had changed positions. Our gazes were at eye level when he finished his jibe. “Being predictable takes away some of the fun in winning you over.”
The mirror slowly reveals a weak smile. The memory offers some relief before the threat of tears creeps right behind it. Remember, a Black man’s tears are sand in an hourglass. They always stop in time to save face, I’d finish. Isn’t that right, Dez?
The bathroom darkened with an abrupt flick! of the lightswitch. In the shadows, my petty reflection held just enough light to showcase one last tear trailing my cheek. With a sigh, I went back to my room to finish dressing.
-Rahk., Between Men: The Driest Tears