At the New York City AIDS Memorial
Your absence is a bisected city
block where a hospital once stood.
The footprint of a yellow house on Providence’s east side
we once shared. Demolished. A white pickup you drove
decorated with black dice. The ground beneath it
crumbled—poof—then paved over, engraved like verses
into stone. When I was told what happened to you,
I sank to the wet floor of a bar’s bathroom, furious
that you left us to reassemble ourselves
from rubble. To build, between subway stops,
some saccharine monument
pigeons shit on, empty except for a circle of queens
chattering, furnishing the air like ghosts. Your death
means I’m always equidistant from you,
no matter where I travel, where I linger,
misguided, hopeful. Last night, by candle light,
a woman unearthed me.
Together, she and I grieved
the impossibility of disappearing
into one another. Poof. Since you died,
erasure obsesses me. Among the photos at the memorial,
one of a banner that reads WHERE IS YOUR RAGE?
ACT UP FIGHT BACK FIGHT AIDS, carried by five
young men. Your face in each. Your beautiful face.
Copyright © 2022 by Stefania Gomez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 10, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.