Every ninety days you will sit and you will wait
in a blank little room at the clinic by yourself,
while the doctors and the nurses pass by the door,
and the mumbling noise of their voices will fade under
the sound of your heartbeat in your head, like the sound
inside your pillow, a soft white whoosh and throb
that pulses on top of a high-pitched whine just past
the point of hearing so that you can’t be sure it’s there.
They will plot you with coordinates, sum you up
in numbers and in symbols; small markings
on the page will demonstrate the quantity of virus
in your blood. You’ll think: Arecibo.
You’ll think of hunched astronomers
bent over reports and readouts from their 1000 foot
ear. They study what comes back: the sight, the sound,
the image and the echo—connect the dots to draw an almost
straight line. And you will try to understand the markings:
letters, numbers, abbreviations. Doctors will enter
using words that sound like quasar names and pulsars,
and you will listen for what you hope to find
but are unprepared to hear.
After recovering from Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia five years ago, Noah Stetzer went back to school and last summer completed an MFA in poetry. He has been selected as a poetry fellow for the Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Writers, and has also been awarded a scholarship to the Bread Loa