Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Her Brother's Death, a Rebirth

Poet Marie Howe, whose brother died of AIDS in 1989, searches for paradoxical redemption and elusive meaning in death and suffering.

Howe, who helped many find their voice in poetry during the AIDS epidemic, will be inaugurated as New York's official State Poet tomorrow Sept. 20th at 8PM at Page Hall.

Here is a poem about her brother's death, one of many, from her bestselling collection, What the Living Do (1997):

By Marie Howe

I had no idea that the gate I would step through
to finally enter this world
would be the space my brother's body made. He was
a little taller than me: a young man
but grown, himself by then,
done at twenty-eight, having folded every sheet,
rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold
and running water.
This is what you have been waiting for, he used to say to me.
And I'd say, What?
And he'd say, This—holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich.
And I'd say, What?
And he'd say, This, sort of looking around.