Meredith and I sit over cocktails with Ben in the airport lounge before he flies off to his mother’s memorial. We amuse him. We laugh frequently. That doesn’t seem too peaceful to me. Mine is a Brandy Alexander. I wasn’t exactly sure what “died” meant, so I wondered why my sister was crying. Ben is the one man I spend time with who has never tried to sleep with me. Also, the whole eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth thing just “leaves everyone blind and hungry.” I remind him of her. I kept expecting him to kiss me and take me home to his loft bed. I walked over to him, and started to pet him. It didn’t happen. Human nature, at least in the way I have interpreted it, doesn’t seem to be entirely evil or entirely good. Okay. I know he lived over a gay bar but it was near the hospital. It had blacked out windows, was big as several warehouses (the bar, also the hospital). It is a mix of both, and usually for the better of the individual, and that varies depending on the situation. We ate pizza in a little place at the front and guys dressed like King Tut or Vegas kept picking up orders from a window to the other side. I remember my mom coming down to comfort me as well, but the rest is a blur. Sometimes it is within one’s nature to act “good,” and sometimes the opposite. So. I knew he volunteered at the Gay Men’s Clinic in the Fens, I knew he’d had a lot of STDs, he came to show me when he had pityriasis and shingles, and I worried a bit when he told me he was making money piercing nipples and pecs. As far as “inspiring” goes, it isn’t so much to me, because I have already figured it out on my own, but in death it keeps talking about how non-believers will be in endless suffering. I was jealous that he had a regular gig donating sperm: tall, high IQ, Ivy League graduate, $100 a pop and all he needed was a magazine and a toilet stall. I didn’t bother to ask what magazine. We are first given the almost lyrical and sweet episode. My new husband, the surgical resident, participates in a biopsy on a young homosexual to diagnose Pneumocystis pneumonia. It is a very interesting phenomenon.
Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.