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? 
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.