Nerve

Oh so quietly do they go now, those who survived the first wave, or was it the steep decline, of the crisis years. Survivors, like people who made it out alive from a plane crash or shipwreck, pulling their own bodies out of carnage and heaps of shredded steel. Landed on an island in the middle of an empty sea with nothing but what was in their pockets and memories, libraries full, of dead people. Young dead people. Like the boy whose body wouldn’t stop shivering for the camera minutes after the nerve gas took hold in Damascus last month. Now, there’s a nun in Syria who claims it was a scam. She says they’re all actors working for the insurgency, working to discredit Assad, working for the demise of their culture. It’s always the nuns. But this time the Pope is at our defense, or so I’ve heard, haven’t seen that story on the news, myself. Nor this one, almost missed it, buried in the back pages of the LA Times, the obits section, not even the New York Times, hardly searchable. But I found it, the lone survivor, stranded on an island of contempt, died by his own hand, by survivor’s guilt, by virtue of his own forgetting. We forgot him, is what I mean to say, and that’s the tragedy. Worked so hard, didn’t we, to remember them all, all those who died of AIDS during the years of the crisis. But who is working to remember the dying survivors? The ACT UPpers who never could adjust to life after insurgency, fell prey to poppers and other chemicals, circuit parties, and obsolescence. The sole survivor in a pool of seventy corpses all lined up in neatly folded white linen. The sun bounced off their chests. I thought, must be beautiful in Syria, all those old, stony buildings. What a shame I’ll never see them. Should have gone when I had the chance.

“Stephen Chron dies at age 66; immune to HIV but not its tragedy,” Los Angeles Times