Thank you, Michael Broder.
This poem appeared in
HIV Here & Now and in
The Body: The HIV/AIDS Resource
Dreams in Black & White
Ton souvenir en moi luit comme un ostensoir! — Charles Baudelaire
--the door opens, the door opens again, I lock it,
in the dark, from these dreams, I startle to the soft
click of a door again opening,
colors I think I shouldn't see,
the red fabric of the wall, purple dark,
each sun, moon, and star of the printed cloth glows golden,
for more than a moment I am afraid until
Welcome, I say aloud,
sleep reclaims me as the room fades to everyday night.
My friend, You are dying. Not like the rest of us who think we are dying every day. Each day the warden walks You through a darkened hall. Each evening, in stark shadow, the reverend father Mea Culpa's, while the sweep hand of the large white faced clock lurches, second by second, as it does in every film-noir. Through each sedated night, You wait.
There's a mob at your door. They clamor like passbook holders in a Potterville bank run. They wish to cash in your promises, and it's the 80's all over again and your room's gone retro & tighter than Studio and since we can't pass the doorman's velvet rope we find ourselves in extended imaginary conversations
where each moment, real or dreamt, is dissected, re-edited frame by frame, replayed forward and back like a time-lapsed sunrise.
All around You, as they wake to the moment, are lost in rerun expectations of every Doctor Gillespie who ever glared intently at a test tube raised between thumb and forefinger while from across his forehead beads of perspiration tick, tick, tick like a relentless clock. They corner your doctor till his god mask shatters. Create hopes for a Doctor McDreamy with his godhead intact.
In this dream You’ve become the priest reciting the last rites, in a gold lined pouch next to Your heart You hold the last Eucharist; in a crucible, the blessed oils, with Your thumb You smudge the sign of salvation across my brow. In this dream we weave a tale of spirit souls swimming a violet sky. In this dream, when You say You are ready, I whisper: Take me with You.
And, for a time, it seems You do. And, for a time, runaway moons huddle in hunger-strike unanimity. And, for a time, season asks, “What is a lifetime?” And every moment echoes,