From a Stranger by Linda Lerner

For Marvin Gordon

Thank you, he said when I moved well to the side
to ensure a safe enough social distance for
him to pass, what my ballet teacher did
in those early AIDS years by shaking his head
motioning with his hands to push me away
when I reached out to hug this teacher
I adored, just home from the hospital,
who’d assured me, all of us
he didn’t have AIDS, and
being naive and young…
but I wasn’t all that young
not to get a patronizing
if you say so look from
those I told what I needed
to be true, a stranger’s thank-you
now brought back words
I say posthumously

narrow hall with blue carpet
Long Halls by Alan Levine. CC license.

Linda Lerner
Linda Lerner is the author of nineteen collections including Takes Guts and Years Sometimes* and Yes, the Ducks Were Real, NYQ Books (2011 & 2015)

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