Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In 1995

I was ten and you were
already battling the stars


of a virus, and in the middle
of grocery shopping,


and street pavements
bursting with lilacs,


you lived so close to
dying, that every morning,


when you woke up, it took
two seconds to ascertain, oneself,


and then, one's own.

With the worst behind you,
you said, how can people write

about letting go, as if
it was 'tragic' that they went,

as if their going could not have been averted,
as if, a scale had weighed in the sky,
 

but already you sounded unconvinced
of your own voice.
 
In that year,
I did not even know what sex is,

 
what veins are, except a book - my
father's - on the benefits of herbs, which,

 
on its last pages, talked of stuff
that nobody told me nothing about,

 
talked of erections, semen, power, & something
perverse about a horrifying illness, and how it takes

 
only the select.
 
You said, in those years
of holding that which you did not

 
know, "Reagan let us die,"
with a kind of resignation that

 
without forgiving, already wraps 'letting go'
in a hope, and slips it in the dimension of myth,

 
before sneaking it behind the books on your shelf.
 
Now when friends visit me, and stay for
a day or two, I thank my stars,
 
and when they leave the room, go to the loo,
or run for a morning appointment,

 
I think of you, making what you could,
of someone always going, of someone

 
gifting togetherness as if wrapped in
paisley, light like feathers, resting on the sill,

 
about to go which way I do not know.




(for Mark Doty)

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