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A Journal of the Plague Years

I remember dancing in July on the banks of the Hudson in the City,

the way some of us, innocent then, reported the rumors

we had heard. I remember you, a doctor; discussing your work

on the wards of San Francisco and the way we worried about

our friends and the way you stood in the elevator

pushing an i.v. stand, not really speaking—the calls

at night and the endless plans to move from the city and the fevers

you had and the pills by your bed and the vigil I kept until

you died. I remember the party for your birthday, the way

you wore a floral-print shirt, an amused smile on your thin

face, the flash of my camera filling the room, sudden,

startling even now. Then Scott fell ill soon after and Raymond

was said to have disappeared, no word of funeral or forwarding

address, just unanswered calls to his mother—the never knowing

if he had died and the way I watched Robert stare at the panel they’d

made for Kyle—the way we stood astonished in a room spread full

of names, the fabric of the quilt unfurled, silk-like, brilliant.




from A Journal of the Plague Years: Poems 1979 – 1992 by Walter Holland © 1992

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