HIV+ by Caroline Barr

You told me you were dying
only slowly, one cell at a time
so we couldn’t see it.
You told me four years ago that

only slowly, one cell at a time
you’ll smear into dust on my palms.
You told me four years ago and
I almost forgot

you’ll smear into dust on my palms.
More than you dying, this scares me:
I almost forgot
you didn’t feel my scorched screaming.

More than you dying, this scares me
because you didn’t cry,
you didn’t feel my scorched screaming
even when I hit you for hours

because you didn’t cry
tears, you bled paint and charcoal
when I hit you for hours
for one day leaving me with only

tears, your blood of paint and charcoal
hung on the wall above the sofa —
for one day leaving me with only,
was it worth it?

Hung on the wall above the sofa —
your red dust, my quiet purple asking,
was it worth it?
And you say, yes.

I almost forgot
you told me you were dying,
as it goes well with your soul
you’ll smear into dust on my palms.

Caroline Barr
Caroline_Barr-headshot_opt (1)Caroline Barr is a recent graduate of Auburn University’s undergraduate Creative Writing program. She currently serves as an editorial intern with BOA Editions, Ltd., as well as an assistant editor for Southern Humanities Review.