Friday, December 09, 2016

I'm reading How to Survive a Plague

Alison,

they tore down your house
the section 8
you remember
the grungy wall-to-wall
peeling blue paint
they're making way
new housing for the new rich invading our town

I'm getting confused
you lived there with Sheila
before you went to the Bay area
came back with AIDS

you shared needles
you said
you came back depressed
we took turns
taking you in
you cried all the time
you cried all week
we had no idea what to do for you
with you

but  I remember your legs, your messed up legs
sometimes you were in a chair
sometimes you walked with canes
didn't stop you from tubing with the kids
the Rainier trip when we did a 360 coming off the mountain
Eden crying in the back seat
clatter of skiis and snowshoes
me yelling, "we're fine, we're fine!!"

after you moved uptown
you got a tarantula
birds
cats who ran after toys you tied to a fishing rod

you got sick
you got very sick
you spent more and more time in the hospital
you just missed out on the whole 'living with AIDS' thing
the drugs you took caused you to suffer
we were all helpless

your great heart wouldn't let you die
for a long time
you gave away your dog
three legged Tripod
he was getting old
you didn't have the energy anymore

I missed your funeral by a day
I went to the hall
no lights on
empty

so I went to the lake with my photos of you
my pocket of stories
about your generosity
your way with children
your anger
your sadness
I lit the pictures with my lighter
let them settle on the water

and as you signed your letters and cards I said-

In love and rage,

Beth

7 comments:

Ms. Moon said...

In love and rage.
Yes. Oh, Beth. I love you so much.

lily cedar said...

This is lovely. I worked with AIDS patients in the late eighties. They all died. It was awful.

37paddington said...

In love and rage. Perfect for these times. This is a loving raging memory. Beautiful and sad.

A said...

What a fine poem/tribute.

Elizabeth said...

POW. BAM.

Beautiful and powerful

Pamela Johnson Parker said...

What a beautiful, beautiful piece of work. The rage and the love flare, just as the photos do.

beth coyote said...

Thanks everyone, for stopping here.