This is for Elsa, also known as Liz,
an ample-bosomed gospel singer: five
discrete malignancies in one full breast.
This is for auburn Jacqueline, who is celebrating fifty years alive, one since she finished chemotherapy.
with fireworks on the fifteenth of July.
This is for June, whose words are lean and mean as she is, elucidating our protest.
This is for Lucille, who shines a wide beam for us with her dark cadences.
This is for long-limbed Maxine, astride a horse like conscience.
This is for Aline who taught her lover how to caress the scar.
This is for Eve, who thought of AZT while hopeful poisons pumped into a vein.
This is for Nanette in the Midwest.
This is for Alicia, shaking back dark hair, dancing one-breasted with the Sabbath bride.
This is for Judy on a mountainside, plunging her gloved hands in a glistening hive.
Hilda, Patricia, Gaylord, Emilienne, Tania, Eunice: this is for everyone who marks the distance on a calendar from what's less likely each year to "recur.
" Our saved-for-now lives are life sentences -- which we prefer to the alternative.

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