Fact Sheet 484: HIV and Inflammation
Outside the doctor’s office a fuse will sparkle behind you and smudge
the sidewalk black at the bus stop. The time tables in your head will mix
with infection rates (both are ratcheting fast, your nine lives are almost up).
Right on time, eight wheels will stop in front: the heaving bus, sweating
metal and warm rubber will exhale in your face while seven floors up,
a file with your mistakes in it burns hot.
There won’t be five minutes to spare on who might worry or want or wait—
this bus goes east to the airport where you can go west, and fly back four hours,
to before results and diagnosis and days left and plans in order.
See, you’ve been busy tearing out seams as quickly as they’re sewn,
pulling at threads along the cuff of your shirt, chewing your fingernails
down to the quick, and twisting the skin of your eyebrows until you bruised.
Distracted by disrepair and deconstruction, you ask yourself what’s the point,
you’ve been at odds with what you hold in your hand: this pill, some medicine,
works like magic, maybe the opposite of ignition or maybe like a slow match fuse.
An empty nightly choice: either take on another day: keep the windows closed
and insulate the attic, store a transistor radio, have a flashlight, and forget
the black powder in the basement—or drop it down the toilet.
The bus door hangs open, steps up will take you out, the stuff ahead lighter than
what’s behind; with both your hands tight by your sides, one step up and Newton’s
Third Law ignites behind you.
Ten steps from the doctor’s office door you will have stopped on the sidewalk—
medicine or magic has failed and choice is off the table, infection has you burning
hot enough—and you say out loud, “at last.”
Noah Stetzer is a graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and also a scholarship recipient from the Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging LGBT Writers & from the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. His poems have appeared in various journals including: James Franco Review, A&U Magazine, The Collagist, The Volta, Tinderbox, & Phantom Press. His chapbook *Because I Can See Needing a Knife* (Red Bird) will be published in 2016.