More Than Thirty Years

For more than Thirty years, 

The same doors swing open,

While rusty ones slam shut.

I am and have been HIV-positive 11,000 days.

Why is this virus different than a cold virus? 

Why do rules bar me from certain pleasures?

What difference did it ever make to most people?

How come the world forgot to set off fireworks

The night I discovered that I was no longer infectious? 

No longer able to transmit, this virus?

Even if we both lie in warm pools of shared blood, 

After a car fatal wreck,

You would die negative.

And I would still be positive.

Is that really a change in the past thirty years?

Would your reception at the morgue be the same as mine?

Thirty years ago, 

The first night I made love,

Days and weeks and months 

After hiding my infection,

I cried – Joy and fear.

To be held, accepted as normal, 

But never quite so.

Worried about you – and this virus.

Could you become more intimate with it,

Than with me?

Today, I lean into bliss, 

Set my sails billowing, in the winds,

Of change.

We know, that loving is harmless –

Who ever intended to kill a loved one? 

Except in Shakespeare, where

Emotions run high, 

Jealousy, rage, envy, resentment.

Where all harm always was, is and will be.

It was never our blood.

We are battered by words,

Words we can’t forget,

“How did you …?” 

STOP!

“You didn’t take care …” 

STOP!

“I love you, but …” 

STOP!

“We had unprotected sex once …” 

STOP!

More than Thirty years ago

Overtaken by events

I transformed from one

Who knew so little,

To one who knows,

Knows enough to keep asking questions.

When I work among women,

When I use empty pill bottles to shift thoughts,

When I listen to our stories,

I know that we’ve all had HIV

For many more than thirty years.

We are all the women who are violated.

We are all the men who do the raping.

We are all blessed, and cursed with human bodies,

Human minds, and human needs.

The moonlight is ours to share,

Should we care enough to bear witness

To our own inner lives? 

Would it, could it, set the stigma free?

Or will we continue to knock on the same rusty doors 

And expect a different reception? 

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