Comet

I’m 48 years old, alive and fairly healthy.
A statement of mundane facts.

As a younger man in Chicago I buried lovers, nursed friends, marched in the streets and skated the razor edge of risk, desire and disease.

I acted up
Fought back
Fought AIDS

I embraced my brothers in arms and screeched with my sisters in heels as we all formed and fabricated our fabulous selves.
Time appeared short and the arcs of our lives shot high and bright.
Some burst into opulent constellations that burn forever in a recollection of the night sky. Others peacefully dimmed and left this world alone, scared and forgotten.

And here I sit, stunned that I’ve been granted a middle age, stumbling with one foot still mired in the sticky penumbra of grief, guilt and gratitude.
Surprised at the continuing promise of tomorrow yet ashamed of how my yesterdays may have been wasted.

Luck has a wicked sense of humor.

I did not die young on the barricades of activism and leave a beautiful corpse.
I’m left here grasping at the glittered comet’s tail of those who burned so hot, fierce and fast.
The countless and uncounted beautiful who scorched a path through the darkness.

Desire arrives today and suspicion chaperones that first kiss.
My body recoils at being wanted.

I may not deserve this.
The work wasn’t done.
Did I shout loud enough?

If I surrender completely who will hold the abstinent guard over my dead lovers.
Who is left that knows the steps for my chaste widow’s walk?

They shake their ethereal heads and clasp tender hands in amusement,
“Love, David, that will mean we truly won”.