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Pills

Nicholas Powers Jun 11, 2009

Before I knew
you reminded your body
to live, each day
with a pill;
we’d meet for breakfast
gossip about our hurts
and between bites
I saw the quick arc
of a pill to your mouth
pinched, as if it was
a hot coal
to be extinguished.
Your bashfulness, odd
for a woman whose laughter
rattles the table.

Years later I read an e-mail
you sent me by accident,
for money for an AIDS Walk
because, “I’m positive.”
And my throat fills
with an ocean of grief
as I stagger to the roof
seeing your body thin
before mine, old before mine,
weightless taken by the wind
of my screaming.

One night you tell me
of the first year, how the mind froze
until you knew the disease
was not death, just weary work
to remind the body to live.
Now when we meet
between swigs of coffee
you open a blue case
take a pill, hold it
finish your story
of travel and how unlike luggage
love never reaches its address
we laugh and then
you gulp it down
and I smile
because nothing is left unsaid.

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