Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Awakening Gaze

The Awakening Gaze
-- For Ricky; and for James and Bob and Emerson and all the others who are still hidden from view

She stood in the door
                                         the light in the room
no longer just from the sun coming in the window
had been quieted and browned by the yellow
fluids dripping from bags  the blue and red and white
blinking lights
                           the drawn curtain
                                                             the flat grey metal
cabinets   tables and poles

She watched the lights speak to no one
                                                                  when the nurse
and the other lady found her
                                                  they would be mad
she knew this

                              Squeezing the brown and white and
red and black stuffed dog she
                                                    came to the man and said


it was the only voice  the only sound  able to cut through
the whistling and hissing and clicking clacking of the sentinels
waiting for him to give over finally


             just this once  someone sees me and not the red
and purple and green camouflage my skin has become
         is not afraid
                                 to see me
                                                       and so
in her gaze I am able to remember

I was boy-long-before-remnant    I had a name   a laugh
and secrets
                                   Now, he remembers,
                                                                           I am disappearing
Into nothing but a flask for fluids   that distract
the nervous staff
                                               More of this   and
More of more of the same will comfort

        he will  be still

and we will lessen our scratching guilt


              Do you know a story   please?
If you will sing me
your favorite song
                                    I will tell you
a story

                     And when the nurse found them

she was singing    “go to sleep  baby mine”
the flickering machines stopped

to hold

his silence

                         -- Luke

AIDS Memorial, Carbondale Illinois
28 April 2013

Shared on the occasion of the 20th Annual AIDS Walk in Carbondale