what the living do, by marie howe

I picked this up because one of the Rumpus bloggers read it in the Australian coffee shop in Brooklyn that Matt took me to – what? That’s cromulent! – but no one told me it was an AIDS memoir.

The Last Time

The last time we had dinner together in a restaurant
with white tablecloths, he leaned forward

and took my two hands in his hands and said,
I’m going to die soon. I want you to know that.

And I said, I think I do know.
And he said, What surprises me is that you don’t.

And I said, I do. And he said, What?
And I said, Know that you’re going to die.

And he said, No, I mean know that you are.

Oh, and also a love letter to her brother, two things which separately and together are bound to make me verklempt. I miss them, the AIDS dead. I imagine another mentor or two, acid-tongued, politically astute, fond of my children. The other books Paul Monette would have written, Kenny Everett’s late night talk show, Freddie Mercury’s kickass performance at the Olympic opening ceremony in London, the rest of Derek Jarman’s films. Fuck.

Nothing for it but my best Zen life hack: pretend you are travelling back from the future to see that person you loved one last time.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.