AIDS Walk 1996
It takes me fifteen minutes
to recite the names of this year’s
dead, surrender them into
the crisp chill of late September.
Cacophonous chatter as high school
girls crowd past before I complete my ritual,
wedge me against the rusty railing
of the wooden plank bridge where I stand
with long-stemmed carnations cradled
like a ballerina following a successful recital.
Vikings sent their dead
off to sea in a blazing boat,
all I have are pink flowers
to release one at a time into
the lazy river’s shallow water. Pungent
spice lingers as they drift downstream,
glide around a sharp bend,
A quarter-ton pick-up barrels
past my silver Hyundai, slides
on the icy interstate, loses traction,
glides across three lanes of traffic.
I hear a sharp crack, the sound
of a cue ball hitting the rack,
glance in my rear view mirror,
watch cars scatter like pool balls
with the break shot. Two compact
cars spin in place. I’ve tried
for years to master English, perfect
my shot. The truck careens
along the shoulder, bounces
when it hits a wide rut, sinks
with a sigh as two tires go flat.
“AIDS Walk 1996” previously appeared in The Smoking Poet, Issue #12, Fall 2009
Nina Bennett is the author of Forgotten Tears: A Grandmother’s Journey Through Grief. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals including Tipton Poetry Journal, San Pedro River Review, The Broadkill Review, and anthologies such as Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on HIV/AIDS. Nina is a healthcare professional by day and classic rock band chick by night.