Keeping Watch


Keeping Watch
(for my own, own, brother)

All afternoon
I stare at your blood
sucked into that glass tube,
a red slash on the white wall.

AIDS is invisible

Doc said
not here anymore.”

He was wrong.

I shall wait.

Touching you,
singing to you,
never letting go of your hand,

I find you in a new way,

warm and alive
better than
not at all.


from some unseen longing,
strange sounds come from your throat.

Nurse says,

“Don’t feel insulted—
the dying make noises
like animals…”

I smile, welcoming
the gathering spirits
of fur and antler
to Mt. Sinai.

Somewhere in the distance

a red fox
runs across the snow,


looks back,

and vanishes into
blue violet.

—Jo Going

Fox in a Field of Light (detail), 2008, oil, acrylic and enamel paint on canvas on wood with electric lights and mixed media including rotating light ball, fox skull, ribbons, glitter, mylar, beads, birch saplings, 9 by 15 by 6 feet

Of her poem “Keeping Watch,” she says: “There have been so many voices in response to AIDS, but the sister/brother journey is one that is not often heard. Gustavo (we come from an Italian family) contracted AIDS in the early years, before the disease had enough accumulated medical knowledge….” Adds Going about her brother, Gustavo Motta: “He has been noted in several books, as he was professionally involved in theater and opera in New York and internationally. As I mentioned, he was, is, my best friend.”

Jo Going, now residing in a coastal Alaskan village, lived for many years in a wilderness homestead cabin in interior Alaska. Her book of poems and paintings, Wild Cranes, published by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, is also in the Franklin Furnace permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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