Tuesday, December 1, 2009

AIDS: My first to go

I flash in and out on remembering the name of my first friend to die of AIDS. It was over thirty years ago.

Friends gathered—I'm the very least of the "we" here and I'm not being humble—a care committee whose work intensified, of necessity, toward the end. While Sanderson's original life was sometimes aware, sometimes unconscious; had bumps, starts, stops, triumphs, loves, his death was conscious.

It's been over thirty years since he gave me a singular piece of advice. Sarah, let the weather support you. I think of those words often and make it so. Breezes, Humidity, Ice Storms. They are all acts of something greater than me (Nature, the Universe, Goddess, She, the Divine).

This year, 2009, early, maybe February, I hit a new high regarding my awareness of weather (or weather "conditions") and Sanderson's advice. I realized there is to be no complaining. Yes, I know about Katrina and monsoons and Indonesia and the damage. I am not the one to explain the existence of suffering, though on the simplest level, I've had heat rashes since I was a little girl on Long Island. That's one of my earliest memories, being uncomfortable in my skin, and the relation to external weathers.

But day-to-day, which is pretty much all I know any more, I see it all as a gift, so when someone complains about rain or fog or cold or other usual inconveniences of the natural world I can't figure the person out. Don't they know?


Let me tell you about my friend
Sanderson. Well he’s dead,
but what’re you gonna do — the first ones died
in that Rapture of malfunctioned immunity.
My early dead read histories of women
his last six months.

You know how it is when you stand still in
Spring because a breeze is
teasing the green of light from trees?
Sarah, Sanderson said to me.
I admit I get real emotional.
Let the weather support you.

What is it about white people?
A chunk missing here and there.
Don’t run your panties through
a hand-crank wringer.
Delicates need a special cycle and
color is just a metaphor.

In the great Pacific Northwest, sky
is every type of blanket shaken over you
every two hours. Sanderson,
in the way of the dead, goes on retreats
there in the still early stage of whatever-
afocusofmine as that here and now, this this,
their perfumed spring, those bills, gunshots,
a certificate of appreciation gotten kinda dusty
in its dime store frame — all enough diverting.

Oh yeah, did I mention?
He also said, I don’t understand
why all the women don’t kill all the men.

So it took years for me to understand why not.
Of course I’m damaged, and needing more from
my icon of grace, on what to allow to support me.

Sarah Sarai, first published in Main Street Rag, 2008, and included in The Future Is Happy, 2009


  1. I think this is in your book..
    somehow it works so well on the blog...