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A poem from the quilt



In San Francisco in 1997 I visited the Names Project, home of the AIDS Memorial Quilt which by then had over 32,000 panels. Each panel commemorates someone lost to the epidemic and is made by their partner, friends or family.

I copied down this poem from one of the panels.

Robert Gilmartin Jr.

Robert Gilmartin Jr. quilt panel

Now is my brother
A traveller, like all the bold men
He talked of endlessly
And with boundless admiration,
Over the supper table,
Or gazing up from his white pillow –
Book on his lap always, until
Even that grew too heavy to hold.

Now is my brother free of all binding fevers.
Now is my brother
Travelling where there is no road.

Finally, he could not lift a hand
To cover his eyes.
Now he climbs to the eye of the river,
He strides through the Dakotas,
He disappears into the mountains.
And though he looks cold and hungry
As any man at the end of a questing season,
He is one of them now:
He cannot be stopped

Now is my brother
Walking the wind,
Sniffing the deep Pacific
That begins at the end of the world.

Vanished from us utterly,
Now is my brother circling the deepest forest –
Then turning in to the last red campfire burning
In the final hills

Where chieftains, warriors and heroes
Rise and make him welcome,
Recognising, under the shambles of his body,
A brother who has walked his thousand miles.

This page last updated: 24 August 2009   Home | Performing | Travelling | Quizzing | Living  
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