‘An obscure knack – commemorating World AIDS Day

Despite the progress, so millions dead, including my uncle. Thom Gunn, one of the twentieth century’s great elegists, wrote some of the sharpest and most shattering poems about AIDS, many collected in the epochal The Man with Night Sweats. Here’s “Still Life”:

I shall not soon forget
The greyish-yellow skin
To which the face had set:
Lids tights: nothing of his,
No tremor from within,
Played on the surfaces.

He still found breath, and yet
It was an obscure knack.
I shall not soon forget
The angle of his head,
Arrested and reared back
On the crisp field of bed,

Back from what he could neither
Accept, as one opposed,
Nor, as a life-long breather,
Consentingly let go,
The tube his mouth enclosed
In an astonished O.

Raise a glass.

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