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Diary From an AIDS Ward, 1984

Diary From an AIDS Ward, 1984


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In the latest installment of our series by acclaimed poet and performance artist Magdalena Gómez, she reminds us, “There are too many things we forget: The AIDS epidemic of recent decades, and now the victims of hurricanes and fires.” This poetry series is part of an ongoing effort to honor the people of Puerto Rico. You can see previous entries here, here, and here. (The poet urges anyone wishing to help Puerto Ricans who are rebuilding and relocating to consider donating to the Boston Foundation’s “Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico/Massachusetts Unido por Puerto Rico.” http://www.tbf.org/)

 Never knew a thing about the SaintVincent, hearty namea comforting stewin a violent December the first ward to welcomethe men who would becomemy children until motherschose God over religionlove over blamewoke up from the stupor of shamethat worst of all AIDS complicationsJealous mothersreturned afraidawake that I might take their placeafter one found me in bedputting love into lesionsfields of killer berries blueheralds of final breathsour bodies gently threaded in tenderness word got aroundthe best doctors looked awaynurses never saw a thingas we snuggled, giggledcareful not to unplug anythingthe joy of Popsiclesthe birthday cakesthe friends who camethe ones who didn’t hard conversationsthinking about the daddy you wish you hadmade you madso many orphans of the livingbe the daddy, don’t dream the daddydaddy’s not comingbe the daddy you wish you haddon’t get jealousget alive and live to the boneof all the love you have to givesend your neighbor a prayer, a chocolate, a kissdon’t miss the daddy, be the daddytell the bedtime storywe can all tuck each other inbe the daddy to the boy dyingdays before youbecome the breath you barely havebe the orchestra section of another’s life the days endless with machines, medicationsnecessary interrogationsinterruptions of sleep by front line miracle dreamsI wear my Reverend Mother disguiseso I can stay through the night You make me promisethey’ll honor the DNRno matter how you begwhatever look of despaircomes into your eyes You know what you wantwhile you still own your mind When mama finally arrivesyou’re still aliveI kiss you every timealways the chance of good-bye The AIDS wardsWhere lifetimes were livedin moments.Where Death wrapped us in the mercyof seeing life for the very first timethe immortalityof Love threading body to soulwith tenderness.Never gone too far. -Magdalena Gómez, ©2017–Bronx-born Magdalena Gómez is a performance poet, playwright, keynote speaker and teaching artist and was an original vanguard member of the Nuyorican Literary Movement. She has been widely published including: The Massachusetts ReviewUpstreet journalL.A. Times, and many other outlets. Her work is included in college and university syllabi throughout the U.S. and her archives are housed at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut at Storrs. www.magdalenagomez.com