December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009: "not another aids poem."

Back in the early eighties when “not another aids poem” was written, our family was living in fear. My wife’s cousin, Hernando, was dying and nobody knew why. The doctors tried everything—interferon and other drugs used to treat cancer—but nothing worked. Then, we learned he had been diagnosed with AIDS.

My wife, who was pregnant with our first child, wanted to visit Hernando in Colombia, not only because she loved him, but because he was one of the first in our families who gave us his support. I still remember sitting in a small bar in Bogota, drinking aguardiente, listening to Andean music, and Hernando explaining to me why the preservation of indigenous music—the music of his people—was important.

In the end, my wife and I decided against the visit because we still didn’t know how AIDS was transmitted. Was it airborne? No one had any answers.

Today is World AIDS Day and we now have more information about the disease, but we are no closer to a cure. And it still doesn’t diminish our guilt and the pain that we feel at the loss of a life that was brilliant and filled with cariƱo.

Rest in Peace, Hernando.

not another aids poem

(for hernando)

when did the tissues,

the invisible barrier between cells,

break and send nuclei,

intent on their own destruction,

alerting an armada of antibodies

in your body's mutiny against itself?

i ask

because it's the only question

that i can understand,

with which i can console myself

while i mutter

a new alphabet of ddc, azt, ddi...

and you become a mottled ghost,

in a gown, transparent as

your skin, a part of the bed,

a network of tubes,

roots i cling to

that connect this life to the next

From:  hurricane center (1998)

Related Posts:


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Unknown said...

Powerful poem and background story. You honor your cousin/friend with this blog post. I'm sure that he is smiling down on you today...

peace, Villager

Geoffrey Philp said...

I'm sure he is, Villager.

Give thanks, Geoffrey