It Seems

only three years ago
we began our goodbyes.

Pray for me you asked, and I

had no idea how, or if I did pray
what it might accomplish.

Instead I heard myself wish a good journey
as we both listened to the call
                                              of a cactus wren.

But it wasn’t three years ago.
Today marks thirty years

I walked that trail in Sabino Canyon,
insects buzzing their work ethic,

hawks bunting high against heaven,
and placed a granite nugget in my pocket

to lay beside the other miracles I collect;
nests, feathers, driftwood.

I will lay a stone on your stone
I had promised. Although I never said it.

I waited for you, while you slept virused,
fevered, as the hills went deep water blue,

the sky blood red, then turquoise.
You woke as the dessert gave up its heat.

In all these years, it’s that blue halo of Tucson sky
I remember most, as though that light we sat in,

and the memory of it, is the prayer
you asked for. The thing you sought.

—Joy Gaines-Friedler


Long time reader and contributor to A&U Magazine, award winning poet Joy Gaines-Friedler is the author of three books of poetry. A multiple Pushcart prize nominee, Joy teaches creative writing for a variety of non-profits in the Detroit area including literary arts programs, social justice programs, and the PCAP–Prison Creative Arts Project through the University of Michigan. Joy’s best friend Jim died from AIDS in September, 1990, five months after Ryan White. She keeps him alive through her poetry and looks forward to a new administration that will tackle another novel virus, COVID, a team which includes some members of the 1990s HIV team, including Dr. David Kessler and Dr. Anthony Fauci.