Sometimes when I look at them
I see big, happy, openmouthed kisses
that they will never give again the same.
I see Christmas presents opened
with awareness and memory
and joy regardless.
I see partners, friends and families
who touch and love and laugh
and a mother who won't go past the doorframe of her son's room.
I see beautiful women
richly gowned, stripped down
to be the men I know.
I hear fatback frying in the kitchen
and icecubes pop-popping in the freezer.
I touch skin, hair, clothing, latex,
and smell bleach, fried bacon and eggs
and flowers donated from the outside.
I feel their tears pull chords in my belly
so that I ache and grind my teeth at night.
I feel their anger pulse in my blood -
push me on to work
until there is a cure.
I feel their laughter rattle response in my throat
until my muscles ache
and I cry for sheer joy.
I guess they've gotten to me.