In recognition of December 1, 2018, which was World AIDS Day, a group of poems by contemporary poets were gathered that addressed the AIDS epidemic through a personal and social lens. (For more information on how to recognize and honor World AIDS Day, visit the awareness section of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.) Even though World AIDS Day has yet to approach us this year, we can still reflect on the impact that this epidemic has left on the lives of so many. No matter what month it is, we can always spare much humility for awareness on this cause. Here is one of the poems written to reflect a personal account of an ailment that affects our community daily.
What the Living Do
Poem by: Marie Howe
(Re-posted by: Jessica Paul)
Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through
the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,
I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,
I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.
What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.
To view the original poem, please visit:
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