Thursday, December 01, 2011



My old laptop fell ill last week and is currently on life support. Just waiting to see if it's brain dead or if modern medicine in the form of the very able guys over at Digerati Computing in Nelson can revive it enough to at least scoop what's on the hard drive. I'm backed up to about 3 months ago, but as I knew I was getting a new computer around now I decided not to confuse myself by connecting the old one to the new back-up disk. Figured I'd just move everything from the old to the new and then hook up the new one. I really ought to know better by now! Anyway, all I stand to lose is the most recent photos, many of which are already loaded to sites here and there, and about 10K words from when I started NaNoWriMo at the beginning of November, but then fizzled as I was away for ten days and writing just wasn't in the cards. I really liked about 500 of those 10K words, and happily I have them on paper!

Today is World AIDS Day. Time to reflect on all that has happened in the world of medicine since this mean disease raised its ugly head in the late 70s/early 80s.

I was in Toronto last month. Stayed with my friend Alan in what's known as the Gay Village. What a fabulous part of town! The night I arrived we went out for dinner at a lovely little Thai restaurant and then walked around. It was unseasonably warm. I saw the plaques with all the names of those who have died at the AIDS Memorial in Cawthra Park. Found my late friend Daniel's name there.

This post is for all the Daniels.

Here's a poem I wrote that was published in 1999 in Room of One's Own (now known as Room Magazine).


       Daniel arrives at the airport
       wearing a floor length gown
       it’s Halloween   
       first time we’ve met
       I’ve heard so much about him

a Christmas card arrives from Don
scared, might have AIDS
waiting for results
I remember his orange Mustang
how we rode,  top down
through the Gatineau Hills
radio blasting
wind in our hair
another letter comes
he’s all right
Christmas is safe
each year, from now on
when cards begin
to drift in with the snow
I look for his

      and Daniel,  sweet Daniel
      delights in my infant son
      laughs with him  
      loves him
      hugs him and holds him
      until he falls asleep
      in Daniel’s arms

I come across a red and white ceramic ashtray
a gift from Mark the night
he and his lover threw a party
we danced and sang
I saw forever in their eyes
but that was years and years ago
my ashtray has a chip on one side
Mark went home to Newfoundland
weighed ninety pounds when he died
     Daniel looks at me
     over my baby’s head
     says he’s an old soul
     he will teach you

Blayne lies, tubes everywhere
in a Shaughnessy Hospital bed
wearing her latex armor
a nurse comes in to change the bag
that collects his urine
she does not pull the curtain
as if his privacy no longer matters
it does to me so I look away
busy myself with his plants
the only signs of life left in the room
after she leaves I talk about mutual friends
take his hand, say goodbye
know I really mean it

     Daniel sits beside my son
     they’re deep in concentration
     Daniel is drawing on command
    Make a horse! Make it run!
     says my son
     and Daniel draws

these latter day lepers
fill bed after bed after bed
in this place where I wait
to see Daniel
when I’m told he’s asleep
I write him a note
say I’m sorry to miss you
a strange thing to say
when the person I’ve missed
is dying by inches
and I’m going home 
on the plane the next day   

     Daniel arrives at the end of his life
     wearing a hospice gown
     I think of him now as part of a quilt
     that stretches as far as I want to see
     shimmering with starlight
     glistening with tears
     it is pieced together with love



Dee said...

So beautifully done. Tears and sorrow and sadness for reality. We all have our Daniels in this circle of life.

Anonymous said...

Linda, thanks for sharing this poem. It touches so many things. Your poem is about someone close. Mine is about the distance that existed. Yours is very helpful to me. Thanks. Lowell