Hold the child
even though you
don’t know her
status. A burp
and a blanket,
wipe off the
spit-up with

Hold the child
when you know
everything, his
dreams for one
day leaving home
Whether that home
was Kokomo
or Kibera.

Hold that child
when he is just
a black and white
photograph of a
man skinnier
than sense itself

or when he is just
a shaky wish of a
signature on a
last will and testament
hastily drawn up
in a meager hospice room.

And hold yourself. Bless
the living, receive the
dying, and let them
bless you with what
they hold in their
hearts, no matter what.

Today, World AIDS Day, has me thinking about the ways I’ve encountered people affected byHIV/AIDS, including a job I had several years ago.  A predecessor died of complications related to AIDS, and in files I received, I saw paperwork he signed from the time of his diagnosis to the time just before his death.  The increasingly unsteady signature is an image that will always stay with me.  In addition to a couple of hospices I’ve visited and Ryan White, allusions include the last verse, which points to the end of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.


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