We Are Here: World Aids Day 2008

2010-12-01 07:54

Day 7 (1 December 2010)

This poem forms part of the We Are Here series, a collection of 16 poems by Antonio Lyons that look at gender violence from a male perspective.

I awoke to the sounds of chirping, whistling and the soft cooing of birds today, and a grey-blue sky with the promise of a brightness to come. And I felt rested, but lazy. I gave a silent thanks to God. Picked up my cellphone and checked for messages. One text had come through during the night, “Tomorrow is World AIDS Day. Enjoy it and DO remember to be safe.”

I pondered
To be safe
To be cautious
To be afraid
To be judgmental
To protect yourself.

I would have preferred those last few words of that text to be replaced by, “To be loving.”
I’ve seen this thing invade many bodies, ravage many families, strike many communities.

We now walk the world searching faces for hints of love or disease.

Afraid that the thing that we fear is hidden behind a kiss.

It’s no way to live.

When the money is gone and hope has fled,
Love of self flies to distant lands,
And recklessness becomes the tune of the day,
And the body becomes a tool to find your beauty that has taken to the skies.

So you drink and fuck until your rebirth is stifled by shame and self-hate.

And you arise to find that in your blind search to regain your heart and soul, you have gained a new quality that will never leave you and, gone unchecked, will devour you from the inside out. And people that know you flee from you or comfort you with hands of plastic and eyes the look at you indirectly and mouths that speak from a distance and hearts that pity.

All because you thought Love had gone.

And no one knew this tortured life you led, because grief made you silent. Then you stumbled across an innocent and, knowingly or unknowingly (It’s hard to figure that out), you gave your gift of change to another. They were weaker than you and committed suicide when knowledge of your special present came to light.

She died of AIDS they say, but her children are ok. They knew her and her family for years. They watched her battle with this disease alone, because she had already lost her husband.

They speak of him, husband, in hushed tones. They say that it was fortunate that he didn’t have to see her suffer through this thing. They say he died of cancer or pneumonia or emphysema or…

They never knew, because she never told. Her love shielded him even in his guilt at shortening both of their lives. I know very few straight men who die of AIDS, only their wives, and girlfriends, and children. I wonder if it’s because a woman’s love, pride, embarrassment or sense of duty is so strong that she keeps his secrets until the end. That she will bare the world’s judgment for them both.

But she does and he dies unburdened by the world’s judgment or depending on the country or community, cruelty.
Ridiculed, starved, isolated, ostracised and murdered because everybody’s afraid. Everybody’s trying to be safe.

How about: “Today is World AIDS Day. Enjoy it and DO remember to practice
Safe Love
Protective Love
Fearless Love
Nonjudgmental Love
Man just Love!”

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