Continuing with our special installment of the seminar on Women and AIDS which Professor Katherine Smith, Poetry Editor of Potomac Review organized for her students.
Here are a few of Elisavietta Ritchie’s poems about AIDS that she read at the Women and AIDS seminar.
For Andrew Brunnelle, potter, at 20+ diagnosed with AIDS
Dark grips us the way
a starfish clutches oysters,
the black snake swallows wrens.
Although we know the wind
shift, how thick the dark,
enveloped we still strike
our tiny matches to a wick
and think to lance the night.
Signal Books, copyright 1998 Elisavietta Ritchie]
Below Johns Hopkins Hospital, 2004, the street is gone:
trees, dead leaves, leaf-blowers, their noise, black bags,
ash cans, loose dogs, ants on October grass.
New questions, decisions: easy as switching the power off?
Would have been, then. Plate shards, stored pills,
penknives, forgotten scissors, smashed glass?
Yet that life force…Or dumb habit, sloth, lack of bravado,
all those unfinished tasks—and silly to skip out now
when so many are shipping out daily, unwilled.
Till the last tattle and rattle the crone, blind to her liver marks, the old man despite aches and clocks, unsolved regrets, cling or are clung to quotidian routines.
And one can’t disappoint those who wrote notes, brought sweets, sent bouquets, tried to phone. So, one does not.
For how will the book turn out?
A shift of light
at the edge of
earth how to catch
that rim of light
gold ring or brass
no matter light
a beacon, sign
I cannot catch
aren’t meant to catch
and still I try
and still, will try
[second section in Innisfree #5, September 2007;
in final mss for book under consideration Navigational Problems]